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.