Editor's Note: For a closer look at the insides of the nuvi 750 and iPaq 310, view the related Teardown TV episode by clicking here.
GPS systems are estimated to be one of the top growth areas for consumer products in 2008, as they were in 2007. There are a number of different manufacturers for GPS systems, including but definitely not limited to, Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Trimble, and HP. Each company has a different approach to a GPS solution but at the end of the day they all fit into a relatively similar form factor.
The two GPS systems that were specifically analyzed for this teardown were the Garmin nuvi 750 and HP iPaq 310, two relatively new GPS systems.
Garmin nuvi 750
First, let's look at the Garmin nuvi. This has a 4.3-inch screen with a resolution of 480 by 272 pixels. It weighs about 176 grams and has a 1,250-mAh lithium ion battery. Now the 750 model does not have Bluetooth capabilities like others such as the 760 and 770. It does offer an FM transmitter so that you can hear the directions over the stereo instead of the internal speaker. One neat feature that is offered is the route planning, where you can enter in up to 10 different places you want to go on your trip and it will take you to each instead of having to program in your destination at each stop. Of course, during you travels you can also listen to MP3s or audio books, or have a picture slide show going on.
For the components inside, the heart of the system is a Garmin- and OMAP-branded processor. While the exact part number is not possible to discern based on package markings, a decap of the device reveals that it is the Texas Instruments OMAP1623. This is the same as the OMAP1621, but with 512 Mbits of mobile DRAM. It's based on an ARM9 core and a TI DSP. The same device has been used in a few of Garmin's previous products, like the 200W and 350.
The GPS functions are controlled by the SiRF StarIII. This combines digital and RF functions in a single package, and runs a 50-MHz ARM7 core. Storage relies on 2 gigabits of SanDisk iNAND, which is a combination of the NAND flash controller, DRAM, and NAND flash. In conjunction with the iNAND there is 512 Mbits of DDR mobile RAM from Qimonda. The Wolfson WM8753 is a voice and audio codec for the speaker. (For a full Semiconductor Insights analysis of related Wolfson codecs, click here.)
For the battery Linear Technology puts up its LTC3557 USB power manager and lithium ion charger and three step-down regulators. There is also a National Semiconductor LP3990 150-mA linear voltage regulator, providing an accurate output voltage, low noise, and low current. The part offers preset output voltages between 0.8 and 3.3 V. It works without a reference bypass capacitor, thereby reducing the parts count.
HP iPaq 310
Now let's take a look at the HP iPaq 310. The physical dimensions are quite comparable between the two GPS systems. The iPaq is about 11 grams heavier at 187 grams. The screen is also the same size at 4.3 inches, but it has a higher resolution at 800 x 480 pixels. The battery offers a bit more punch with a 1,700-mAh lithium ion battery. As opposed to the nuvi 750, the iPaq does have Bluetooth 2.0, but as I mentioned, some of the other nuvi models offer Bluetooth as well.
A glance at the board inside the iPaq quickly shows that it is a bit more complex than the nuvi. First off, we can see a Centrality processor. Centrality was actually acquired by SiRF last year. The one used here is the Titan Dual Core running at 600 MHz with an ARM 11 core.
In conjunction with the GPS capabilities of the Titan comes the 4110L GPS receiver IC from SiGe Semiconductor. This provides an on-chip LNA and a low-IF receiver with a linear AGC and 2-bit ADC. Two gigabytes of memory is provided by Samsung's 4-die SLC in a single package while Micron provides 128 megabits of SDRAM.
Also on board, the Wolfson WM9712 codec controls the I/Os for the touch screen and speaker while ForteMedia's FM1182 takes care of voice processing and includes echo cancellation and noise suppression. Finally, for Bluetooth connectivity, it's got the Cambridge Silicon Radio BlueCore 4 (for a full reverse-engineered analysis of the BlueCore 4, click here).
And with that we have taken a look at two GPS systems and identified some of the major components. Really, the only similarity we saw was a design win in both GPS systems from Wolfson, although they were for different functionality. I guess you could say they both have SiRF parts, since Centrality was acquired. Other than that, both companies have really come up with their own spin on how to design a GPS system while still maintaining a relatively similar form factor.
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View a full reverse-engineered analysis of CSR's Bluecore 4 IC