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Under the Hood - Update: Apple iPhone 3G exposed
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.
Under the Hood: Intel and TriQuint surprise with iPhone 3G wins
7/10/2008   Post a comment
A first look inside the Apple iPhone 3G shows TriQuint Semiconductor and Intel to be surprise winners, while Samsung, ARM, SST and old reliable Skyworks fill primary roles in the new design.
Safe bet: tire pressure sensors
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
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
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.
Silicon TV tuners kick the CAN
6/17/2008   Post a comment
A new XCeive tuner makes good use of silicon area to outpace not only other digital tuners but traditional CAN tuners as well.
Mobile apps, media processors on the wane
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: Universal remote gets on grid
5/20/2008   Post a comment
The Acoustic Research ARRU449 is an LCD-screen-based universal remote control with the twist of Wi-Fi connectivity to link the remote to online resources intended to ease setup and provide programming resources.
Under the Hood: Mature devices get Rolly rocking
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
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: Designers boost DRAM efficiency
4/15/2008   Post a comment
Recent analysis of some of the latest DDR2 and DDR3 DRAM devices from leading manufacturers has revealed a couple of interesting trends.
Under the Hood: GPS Special - Garmin nuvi 750 vs. HP iPaq 310
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: Spec revision's cost is in the cards
3/26/2008   Post a comment
As cdma2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A phones roll out in 2008, what impact will the new, higher-speed network have on the underlying platforms found in these handsets?
Under the Hood: Sonos brings multi-zone digital audio to life
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
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
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
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: DRAM architectures: 8F2 vs. 6F2
2/22/2008   Post a comment
As DRAM prices continue to fall and most manufacturers experience financial hardships, only innovation and aggressive scaling will ensure a company's success.
Under the Hood: Flip Ultra camcorder - An ode to clean design
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?
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: Guitar Hero jams go wireless
2/11/2008   Post a comment
Activision's Guitar Hero series has been big. Really big. Reports peg total sales of the Guitar Hero lineup at about $1 billion as of the start of 2008.
Under the Hood: Cordless phone's next phase
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: CSR evolves along with Bluetooth
1/28/2008   Post a comment
Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) has a reputation in the industry as a strong provider of Bluetooth solutions.
Under the Hood: 45 nm: What Intel didn't tell you
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
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
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: Sony adds Wi-Fi to place-shifting A/V controller line
12/10/2007   Post a comment
It's a media junkie's dream: watch your real-time or time-shifted video with a suitably fast Internet connection whether across the house or across the world.
Under the Hood: iPod video, up close and personal
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
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
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
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
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
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: Hot 3G phone owes debt to analog
11/5/2007   Post a comment
The N95 gets anointed in Nokia's marketing as a "multimedia computer," but in one view it's still the analog IC that sets it apart.
Under the Hood--Extreme: Monitoring Gas Extraction in the Norwegian Sea
11/2/2007   Post a comment
Keeping the Ormen Lange gas field operating is an extreme engineering challenge that pushes the limits of vibration and event monitoring, wireless acoustic communications and embedded software design.
Under the Hood: Uncovering hidden chip costs
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.
Under the Hood: Gap narrows between plasma, LCD
10/9/2007   Post a comment
A comparison of LCD versus plasma 720p and 1080p high-definition TVs shows that the only real differences come in the display format, contrast ratio and brightness.
Under the Hood Special: Counterfeit parts Part 2 -- Baiting the trap
10/8/2007   2 comments
Many readers commented on the Semiconductor Insights article "Counterfeit parts, legitimate woes," so the authors took time out to explain how designers can so easily get caught in the counterfeit trap and how independent brokers play a role in catching unwary online parts shoppers.
Body fat meter is thinly priced
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
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
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: Sensor, processing at heart of DSLR
9/26/2007   Post a comment
While digital SLR cameras have drastically improved, a look inside the Sigma SD14 shows what can be done through the blending of advanced image-sensor technology with high-performance, low-power digital signal processing.
Under the Hood: Full-featured phones are ultrathin
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: 1-Gbit DDR3 SDRAMs square off
9/3/2007   Post a comment
With the launch of Intel's P35 chip sets, the growing list of validated devices and AMD's planned support, DDR3 SDRAMs have become a reality.
Under the Hood--Video: iPhone clones surpassing original
8/31/2007   1 comment
Semiconductor Insights took its video cameras inside some Apple iPhone clones and concluded that while initial attempts were laughable, the more recent counterfeits are close to surpassing the original.
Under the Hood: Gauging standard-cell performance
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.
Under the Hood: Inside Kawasaki's Moto-GP racing bike
8/20/2007   Post a comment
It's race time! Fresh from the racetrack, teardown specialist Portelligent provides a guided tour of the electronics and subsystems inside the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP race motorcycle.
Under the Hood: A/V receiver nails cost/performance trade-off
8/13/2007   Post a comment
The designers of the Pioneer VSX-1016-TXV receiver used advanced design techniques and heavy optimization at every stage to realize a mid-range audio/video receiver's quality at the cost of an entry-level system. Find out how.
Under the Hood Special Report: Counterfeit parts, legitimate woes
8/6/2007   Post a comment
In an alarming trend, counterfeit parts are on the rise and can seriously impact the semiconductor industry. Semiconductor Insights uncovered the latest batch of counterfeit chips and discusses the methodologies used and how to protect against it.
System and IC teardowns become critical 'business intelligence'
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'.
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