Once our teardown specialists were able to open the device, our suspicions were confirmed. MediaTek products were amongst the primary components of the device. On one side of the printed circuit board (PCB) manufactured by Yuan-Guang PCB Technology LTD of Taiwan we found:
MediaTek MT3351 application processor,
Samsung K4T51163QG 512 Mb DDR2 SDRAM,
Hynix HY27US08121B 512 Mb SLC NAND,
KT Micro KT0801A FM transmitter,
MediaTek MT6611 single-chip Bluetooth transceiver,
A GPS antenna from INPAQ Technology Co., which is found on the upper right corner of the PCB, and
A small Bluetooth chip antenna in the bottom right corner of the PCB.
On the other side of the board, the most notable component is the GPS receiver, made by MediaTek, with the part number MT3328.
Of particular note on this teardown are the MediaTek components. The MT3351 applications processor is one that is not mentioned on the MediaTek website, but from our preliminary review of the platform architecture of the GPS unit and the package markings of the processor, in comparison to our library of MediaTek and application processors, we were able to speculate that the MT3351 is a highly integrated processor and includes an ARM core, I/O, audio processing capability and a touchscreen interface. This isn't the first time that we've seen this particular processor, however; we have seen it in other GPS units from major manufacturers.
Click on image to enlarge.
Click on image to enlarge.
Also in this product from MediaTek is the MT6611 single-chip Bluetooth transceiver. Unlike the MT3351, the MT6611 is featured on MediaTek's website and is described as a monolithic Bluetooth single chip that is fully compliant with Bluetooth specification 2.1 + EDR. As a device within Shan Zhai technology, we have found the MT6611 in several Chinese handsets recently analyzed as part of our forthcoming "The Dragon Dissected: An Analysis of Cellular Handsets in the China Market" study.
Lastly, the MT3328 from MediaTek is the GPS receiver. Also featured on MediaTek's website, the MT3328 is described as a host-based GPS receiver designed to interface with processors in navigation or mobile platforms. Like the MT3351, we have seen the MT3328 in a recently analyzed GPS unit from a major manufacturer.
With evidence of MediaTek's strong position in this design, it is interesting to reflect upon the evolving relationship between Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers and Chinese OEMs. With a strong partnership approach, low cost, and faster time-to-market offerings, these semiconductor manufacturers have been able to spur China's electronics industry while increasing their own market share over their European and North American competitors. As the Chinese electronics industry reaches its apex in their own country, the OEMs, on the other hand, shift their focus from their own domestic market to more lucrative markets like North America, while continuing to rely on their Taiwanese partners. We are already beginning to see Shan Zhai products in the hands of western consumers, and Shan Zhai OEMs are doing it primarily through wholesalers (who sometimes sell direct through sites like eBay or DH Gate). As well, we are seeing more and more of their products enter "super stores" like Walmart or Target as low-cost alternatives to more popular, recognized brands, and these low-cost alternatives already reveal the collaboration between Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers and the OEM. For example, we've previously discovered MediaTek components in low-cost products (like the MT1888E DVD R/RW controller in a CyberHome DVD Recorder) that are sold at a price point much cheaper than those by brands like Sony or LG Electronics. MediaTek is clearly becoming a global semiconductor powerhouse through the back-door! For more insights about MediaTek you may be interested in checking out "UBM TechInsights Competitive Landscape Report on MediaTek".
Gordon Holstead is senior analyst in the Business Intelligence group at UBM TechInsights. He holds a bachelor of science, electrical engineering from University of Waterloo and is a licensed member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO).