With tablets taking a turn toward ever-tighter form factors and packaging — witness the excitement surrounding the just-launched Amazon Kindle Fire — we thought it would be interesting to go back and look at a recent teardown of the sector’s still-champion, the Apple iPad 2.
UBM TechInsights, our sister organization, conducted a teardown of the Apple iPad 2 3G version just before it was launched in March. In terms of its main chip, the 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor that powers the iPad has specifications comparable to those of NVidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core processor studied in the Motorola Xoom. So we assume that CPU costs are comparable in pricing for each manufacturer (approximately $15-$20 per processor).
The A5 is a very big integrated circuit, with a processor die size of 12.1mm x 10.1mm. You’ll recall that the Apple A4 used in the original iPad was a package-on-package with the processor and its supporting memory stacked one capsule atop another, and it had a processor die size of 7.3mm x 7.3mm.
Click the image below to view a slideshow of the iPad 2 3G in various stages of disassembly:
The white version — it also comes in black — of the Apple iPad 2 3G.
Based on analysis performed by our UBM TechInsights Lab and Process Analysis personnel, we can say that the A5 in the iPad 2 is definitely manufactured by Samsung using its 45nm process. UBM TechInsights used optical die and SEM cross-section images to analyse important features such as die edge seal, metal 1 pitch, and logic gate and SRAM transistor gate measurements. These features were then compared to other manufacturers in our database, including other Samsung 45nm parts. The previous generation Apple A4 processor was also fabricated using Samsung’s 45nm process.
We were able to estimate the cost of manufacturing an iPad 2 by using part component pricing and past manufacturing history to speculate and estimate component costs. From that, we were able to estimate that the iPad 2 has an approximate $270 cost for bill of materials (BOM). Apple’s volumes and platforming will certainly factor in keeping BOM costs competitive to their tablet competition.
Whereas products such as the Motorola Xoom were designed to challenge the iPad by improving on the processor (such as utilizing the NVidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor), Apple is responding by introducing the Apple A5 dual-core processor in use in the iPad 2. Essentially, Apple is telling the tablet market that if dual-core is what you want, then dual-core is what you will get.
On the 3G front, before the iPad 2 was released, we speculated that Apple might take a design cue from the Verizon iPhone 4 (and Motorola Xoom) by selecting a Qualcomm multi-mode-ready radio. Our suspicions proved to be correct in that it turned out be the exact same radio as found in the iPhone 4 and Motorola Xoom, operating on the Verizon network in the CDMA band.
Here’s a list of iPad 2 technical specs:
Processor: A5 – 1GHz dual-core processor.
Display size: 9.7 inches.
Resolution: 1024 x 768.
Front and rear camera: VGA (front), 720/30p video (back).
Cellular band: Quadband HSPA or CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A.
WiFi/Bluetooth: 802.11a/b/g/n & 2.1 + EDR.
Three-axis acceler ***a***ometer.
For further reading:
UBM TechInsights’ complete teardown report on the Apple iPad 2 can be purchased here.
Information on UBM TechInsights’ subscription service for tablet product teardowns can be accessed here.
UBM TechInsights’ teardown report on the RIM PlayBook tablet can be accessed for free here.
The Samsung Galaxy teardown from DesignCon is posted here.
The HP TouchPad Tablet teardown is posted here.
(Portions of this slideshow previously appeared in EE Times.)