Under the Hood - Update: Apple iPhone 3G exposed Teardown 7/12/2008 7 comments A close analysis of iPhone 3G's insides shows major wins for Infineon and TriQuint, though it's clear that much of the emphasis this time around less on reinventing the wheel and more on user experience and applications development.
Safe bet: tire pressure sensors Teardown 6/26/2008 Post a comment One of Portelligent's analysts had the presence of mind to gather up the damaged tire pressure monitor (TPM) from his Toyota during a recent service center visit.
Extreme design: SuitSat pushes engineers' limits Teardown 6/26/2008 1 comment When engineers from Microchip Technology took a routine microcontroller inquiry, little did they know they'd be embarking on a multiyear space mission that would challenge every aspect of their earthbound engineering experience, while reconnecting them with the excitement and sense of exploration that led them to choose engineering to begin with.
Next NAND flash point: performance Teardown 6/17/2008 Post a comment New trends in NAND flash memory development include changes in architecture, performance improvement, design challenges for 3-bit-per-cell NAND development, and process technology-dependent requirements.
Mobile apps, media processors on the wane Teardown 6/2/2008 Post a comment With no big new features on the immediate horizon for cellphones, mobile application processors and media accelerators are on the decline, according to a new report on trends in cellphone design by teardown specialist Portelligent.
Under the Hood: Mature devices get Rolly rocking Teardown 5/13/2008 Post a comment The Sony Rolly, shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, is a "dancing" MP3 player: When songs are loaded or streamed via Bluetooth, the Rolly can roll around and flap its speaker coverings in time with the music. The speaker flaps can also muffle the sound and give it a bit more flare when noise is channeled through one side or the other.
Under the Hood: Inside the Sony OLED TV Teardown 4/29/2008 1 comment For its XEL-1, the first commercial OLED TV, Sony made some interesting design and component choices to realize an 11-inch-diagonal screen that is only 3 mm thick. See what devices make up this ground-breaking display that is a harbinger of exciting times ahead.
Under the Hood: GPS Special - Garmin nuvi 750 vs. HP iPaq 310 Teardown 4/14/2008 2 comments TechOnline's Greg Quirk went inside the Garmin nuvi 750 and HP iPaq 310 GPS navigation systems to find that while they did have some crossover in terms of components, such as the use of chips from SiRF and Wolfson, they both came up with their own distinct approach to how a GPS navigation system should be designed.
Under the Hood: Sonos brings multi-zone digital audio to life Teardown 3/18/2008 Post a comment The designers of the Sonos Digital Music System made four inspired design decisions early on to realize its ground-breaking, multi-room digital audio system, but deep into the design process, even they were humbled by the intricacies of effective wireless system design. See why.
Under the Hood: Next steps in NAND flash evolution Teardown 3/18/2008 Post a comment As 40-nanometer NAND flash products are prepared for mass production, and as technologies emerge to achieve densities beyond 2 bits per cell (multilevel-cell technology), with 3- and 4-bit/cell technology in sight, reviewing the first four generations of NAND flash technologies can provide a clearer view of the how the industry might evolve over the next few years.
Under the Hood: The next gold rush - solar power Teardown 3/10/2008 3 comments In December 2007, more than 1,500 participants from industry, academia, and military and government institutions converged on Fukuoka, Japan, to attend the Seventeenth Annual Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference (PVSEC).
Under the Hood: Evolution of the smart phone Teardown 3/3/2008 1 comment It is interesting to look at the different ways that HTC and Nokia, two companies that have very competitive and successful smart-phone offerings, arrived at their latest products. HTC used its background as a PDA manufacturer to create the TyTN 2, essentially incorporating phone functionality into a PDA. Nokia came into the smart-phone market from cell phones, so it needed to find ways to increase functionality without substantially increasing the size of its latest phone, the N95.
Under the Hood: Flip Ultra camcorder - An ode to clean design Teardown 2/18/2008 2 comments The designers of the Flip Ultra digital camcorder turned ease of use into a fine art in this high-quality, user-friendly, low-cost digital video recorder that makes video sharing with sites such as YouTube and MySpace a snap. See how they did it in this feature and accompanying TeardownTV video.
Under the Hood: When is a chip not a chip? Teardown 2/14/2008 1 comment There are many reasons why a semiconductor component might be branded with markings that differ from those of its actual manufacturer. A case in point is the Apple iPhone, which includes multiple devices from large companies (such as Broadcom, Philips, Samsung and Texas Instruments); all the devices carry Apple package markings.
Under the Hood: Cordless phone's next phase Teardown 2/4/2008 1 comment The high-volume, low-status cordless phone is a fixture in most households, garnering little mindshare in the milieu of modern gadgetry. But the product category continues to present a picture of selective integration, design-for-cost and standards advancement that is worth examining.
Under the Hood: 45 nm: What Intel didn't tell you Teardown 1/21/2008 1 comment As noted in EE Times almost one month prior to the December 2007 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), the main features of Intel's 45-nanometer process technology are the incorporation of high-k hafnium-based dielectric material, titanium nitride (TiN) for the PFET replacement gate and a TiN barrier alloyed with a work function tuning metal for the NFET replacement gate.
Under the Hood: Low-cost phone is rich in features Teardown 1/7/2008 Post a comment At an estimated total cost to manufacture of less than $45 based on a Portelligent teardown analysis, the Tianyu B811 finds itself positioned just above the ultralow-cost voice-only phones, where bill-of-material costs have now dropped below $30.
Under the Hood: Silicon TV tuners clearing hurdles Teardown 12/24/2007 Post a comment Although mobile phone and WLAN transceivers made the transition to silicon ICs years ago, solid-state TV tuners have been slower off the starting block. Semiconductor Insights takes a look at offerings from several companies that have started to offer IC-based TV receivers that will replace the traditional "can tuner."
Under the Hood: iPod video, up close and personal Teardown 12/3/2007 1 comment Virtual display glasses aren't new, but MyVu uses Kopin's on-glass LCD technology and advanced packaging, materials and integration to bring the cost, size, power and weight down to a usable format for consumers.
Under the Hood: Blackberry wins handset data-rate bakeoff Teardown 11/26/2007 2 comments In recent years, the consumer electronics industry has seen a steady trend toward convergence. In the past, users carried several separate devices--from cell phones to portable music players, PDAs, video players and cameras--in order to meet all their communications and media needs.
Under the Hood: Sony Playstation Portable slims down Teardown 11/20/2007 1 comment Sony has done much to lower the size and weight of the new Playstation Portable, but aside from increased memory, Wi-Fi access and the removal of infrared communications capability, the question arises: Has it changed enough to entice users re-ante up for the newest platform? Take a look inside to find out.
Under the Hood: Intel's 45-nm high-k metal-gate process Teardown 11/14/2007 2 comments On Nov. 12, Intel shipped the first 45-nanometer microprocessors using high-k metal-gate technology. Whether to underscore the significance of the event or to reinforce that his famous law remains on track, Gordon Moore has become a central figure in the marketing of Intel's 45-nm technology.
Under the Hood: First 45-nm chip forms heart of Panasonic Blu-Ray DVD player Teardown 11/13/2007 Post a comment It's hard to choose a DVD player given the war going on between the Blu-Ray and HD DVD formats, but the Panasonic DMR-XW200V Blu-Ray player stands out given its use of the first true 45-nm device available on the market: the Matsushita UniPhier LSI. The chip allows two high-definition screens to be processed at the same time, in this case at resolutions of 1080P.
Under the Hood: XM radio receiver makes waves Teardown 11/12/2007 Post a comment Delphi's latest XpressRC satellite radio receiver adds color and light to its lineup of XM radios but still builds around a fairly long-lived chip set (at least in silicon years) with some modest tweaks to the platform.
Under the Hood: Uncovering hidden chip costs Teardown 10/22/2007 Post a comment The proportion of semiconductor content is increasing in almost everything we own. For some large manufacturers of consumer electronics, semiconductors are the single largest contributor to finished-goods costs.
Body fat meter is thinly priced Teardown 10/8/2007 1 comment There always seems to be some medical widget at David Carey's local Walgreen's that get the wheels of his curiosity turning. This time it was Omron's $50 (or less) HBF-306 personal body fat meter that drew the Portelligent teardown specialist's eye.
Electronics hone racer's edge Teardown 9/26/2007 Post a comment A teardown by Portelligent of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP racing motorcycle shows a system that melds cutting-edge electronics and communications technology human skill and instinct to both man and machine in good stead at track speeds in excess of 200 MPH.
Electric motorbike teardown Teardown 9/26/2007 6 comments Vectrix designed its battery-powered VX1 motor scooter to go up against motorbikes from the likes of Honda and Yamaha. A teardown of the system shows how successful the company was at balancing performance with economy and low emissions.
Under the Hood: Full-featured phones are ultrathin Teardown 9/10/2007 Post a comment Recent teardowns by Portelligent--most notably the 10-mm-thick UMTS Sony Ericsson W880i--reveal a trimming of the display module waistline to enable a class of highly functional, ultrathin candy-bar cell phones. We go under the glassy surface of the 46-mm-diagonal QVGA LCD found in the W880i to highlight some of the methods used to achieve an overall LCD module thickness of just 1.6 mm.
Under the Hood: Gauging standard-cell performance Teardown 8/27/2007 Post a comment Standard-cell-based design has become the mainstream methodology for designing the digital-logic sections of ASICs. Semiconductor Insights shows how it used advanced imaging and algorithms to go deep inside the structure of TI's OMAP2420 SoC.
System and IC teardowns become critical 'business intelligence' Teardown 8/2/2007 Post a comment In a competitive landscape with accelerated time to market pressures, increasing cost and performance requirements and global patent-protection concerns, teardowns of ICs and systems have moved from being a hobby or a back-room skunks works activity to being a critical part of the electronics company's 'business intelligence'.