SAN FRANCISCO--Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Series 5 Chromebook--the first of a new class of computers that use only Web-based apps and services--carries a bill of materials (BOM) of $322.12 and features hardware commonly found in a notebook computer, according to a teardown analysis performed by market research firm IHS iSuppli. Intel Corp., Infineon Technologies AG, SMSC Corp., Texas Instruments Inc. and others supply chips for the system, according to the analysis.
Google Inc. announced at its annual development conference last month that Samsung and Acer Inc. would begin shipping this month Chromebooks, named for Google’s Chrome Web browser and operating system. The new class of thin-client network computer is expected to challenge netbooks and low-end notebooks. The Chromebook resembles a value notebook or 3G netbook in terms of features and connectivity, according to the firm.
According to the IHS teardown analysis, Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebook sports attributes commonly found in a full-featured notebook, including a high-quality 12.1-inch display, a full day (8.5 hours) of battery life, a new dual-core Atom processor, 2 gigabytes (GB) of memory and a 16-GB solid state drive.
The $322.12 BOM, plus $12.20 for manufacturing costs, brings the total price to produce each Samsung Chromebook to $344.32, according to IHS. Samsung has been retailing its first Chromebooks for around $500.
“The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is every bit a full-sized notebook PC—just don’t call it that,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, competitive analysis, at IHS, in a statement.
Lam said the Chromebook—which features Google’s Chrome OS—represent the search engine giant’s first commercial implementation of its web-centric vision designed to entice users to move away from standalone computers to the cloud network storage medium. “But as much as Google would like to de-emphasize the role of user hardware, it is the hardware, in fact, that defines the Chromebook and will determine the success of the platform,” Lam said.
The Chromebookboots up within eight seconds, connects effortlessly to the web via Wi-Fi or 3G, and stores all its data in the cloud, according to IHS. But the Chromebook’s focus on providing a compelling user experience has resulted in the inclusion of some advanced hardware features not typically found in low-cost notebooks, according to the firm.
According to the teardown analysis, Samsung chose to trim spending on certain items while increasing its outlay on other items, such as the display, battery pack and enclosure, Key to this effort was Samsung’s vertical integration, which allows it to source components like the memory, battery and display in-house, enabling Samsugn to reduce costs in some areas and also to differentiate the product from devices from competing manufacturers, according to IHS.
The motherboard is the most expensive subsystem of the Chromebook, at $86.37, or 26 percent of the device’s total BOM, IHS said. The major cost driver for the motherboard is the main memory supplied by Samsung, consisting of a 2 GB Double Data Rate 3 (DDR) SDRAM, the firm said.
The motherboard also features a dual-core Atom N570 processor from Intel and a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for computing security from Infineon—a component seen more often in enterprise-level computers, but not so much on value computing devices, IHS said.
The Chromebook features a high-quality 12.1-inch LCD with improved LED backlight technology that achieves 300nit brightness, IHS said. The display is made. in-house by Samsung, has a pixel format of 1280 by 800 pixels and a 16 by 10 aspect ratio and costs $58, about 17.5 percent of the Chromebook’s total BOM, IHS said.
As part of enhancing the user experiencing, Samsung also chose to invest on an all-day, 6-prismatic cell battery pack—a component that takes up nearly two-thirds of the total volume of the Chromebook, IHS said. The 7.4-volt lithium ion polymer battery is sourced from Samsung SDI and carries a cost of $48.20, or 14.5 percent of the overall BOM, IHS said.
The fourth most expensive subsystem in the Chromebook is the global 3G wireless wide area network module from Hon Hai Precision Technology of Taiwan, consisting of a quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM, a quad-band HSPA/UTMS and a dual-band CDMA, IHS said. To keep its costs down, Samsung elected to use an older Gobi 2000 baseband platform from Qualcomm, the IHS iSuppli Teardown reveals. All told, the 3G WWAN module comes to a cost of $42.85, or 12.9 percent of the total BOM, according to IHS.
There is an old principle in the consulting business: If they are centralized, then recommend decentralization; If they are decentralized, recommend centralization. There is some of that in this concept. Cynicism aside for the moment, there is some value in taking computer management out of the hands of many users. I still see them doing things they shouldn't ought to and I am still being asked to fix the resulting problems. The question is whether putting their trust in Google to take care of them will be smart in the long run.
Chromebook may be novel alternative. But if one is on the go, he/she needs 3G/4G connectivity and data usage. Will not this be very costly affair? In Canada, 1GB of data on 3G costs around $20. Google also has to resolve this issue to make Chromebook popular.
As a member of the Google Pilot program, see my post below, I have grown to enjoy using it. Fast to boot up, long battery life, sometimes I go for days without charging it, even though I us it on a daily basis. I would recommend it because it does not need all of the baggage that is necessary with any conventional computer (spyware, additional programs, lugging battery charger, etc.)
Well, I think one of the most creative things Google has done with the Chromebook is on the business side. They will be leasing Chromebooks to students for $20/month and business for $28/month that include the Google application as a replacement for Microsoft Office. I'm not sure if huge companies will jump on board, but I'm sure that a large number of schools and small to mid-sized business will take advantage of of it. That may the true Ah Ha, no technical but business.
As someone who participated in the Chrome OS Pilot program, I've been using a Chrome OS (called CR-48) since late January. I was very skeptical of the concept. But the fast boot, long battery life and the combination of WiFi and built-in cellular has been a breeze to use. I have also found that using web only applications has not been a major impediment, using Microsoft Live.com, you can even create and edit Microsoft Office documents.
Current computers get slower and slower as increasingly bloated software puts greater and greater demands on old systems. If in the future, Google's cloud recognizes the model of computer that is connecting and provides slimmed down versions of the software to older, slower systems then they'll have a winning application. The cloud based software can also avoid the problems associated with computers slowing down with age as the installed software gets patched and repatched until it is nearly unusable. If only WiFi access were ubiquitous and the cloud were completely reliable...
I personally don't like the cloud computing concept very much. The firs problem is security. Just look at bank. I don't think ever dare to put their database at cloud, why? Answer is simply security. The other problem is the internet access. In Asia where I live and work, the internet speed is just something luxury so I just can't imagine what will happen to the Chrombook if the internet speed is just a little bit better than 10kbps (don't believe it, come to China and we can easily experience it). Internet access cost is also a great concern, especially mobile internet access. So, even if this product is very cheap (or totally free), I won't take it serious to try.
The real potential with the Chromebook is in lifetime issues. The power won't be spectacular. The functionality won't be either. Nor is the price. If this were another Win7 notebook, it would fit right in the middle of mediocre.
I don't think the ease of use is at its potential yet, but the idea of a turn it on and not worry about anything computer has a lot of appeal to a lot of people.
I don't have any problem managing my data, keeping good backups and migrating when I upgrade, but there is a large segment of the computing public for whom those are mountainous issues. Just the "simple" act of getting a new computer is traumatic for a lot of people.
If the old one dies, then pay hundreds of dollars to "possibly" reclaim all the family pictures, or just lose them. Email addresses and messages are gone. Letters, Christmas address lists, school work; all are at risk of disappearing. Even if the computer just needs a repair, the likelihood of an HD wipe is way too great for comfort, not to mention the days to weeks of time without the machine.
With a Chromebook, if it breaks, just go get another one and turn it on. If you're in a distant city, need a laptop, but have left your behind, just go rent or borrow one, turn it on and go.
Yes, there is still too much risk of data theft in the cloud and your recourse for data loss are almost non-existent, but once those problems are ironed out, such a device will have the potential to solve a large number of consumer PC difficulties that have been around since consumers have been using PCs.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.