iFixit completes seventh-gen iPod nano teardowns, finds additional NAND Flash memory, Bluetooth, assorted mystery chips

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:57
Category: Hardware, iPod, iPod Nano, News

It’s the teardowns that make things interesting.

Per iFixit, the teardown of the seventh-gen iPod nano revealed the following interesting components:

– The Toshiba THGBX2G7D2JLA01, which includes 16 gigabytes of NAND flash. The Broadcom BCM2078KUBG also includes both the Bluetooth and FM radios.

– A touchscreen controller from Texas Instruments identified as 343S0538.

– A chip from NXP Semiconductors labeled “1609A1”.

The device also contained the following mystery chips which have yet to be identified:
– 75203 23017

– 75292 98820

– 339S0193

– Apple 338S1099

– Apple 338S1146

iFixit also found that the battery in the new iPod nano is soldered directly to the logic board and adhered to the back of the display. They did find a plastic pull tab presumed to be in place for removing the battery, however they found the adhesive holding the battery in place was too strong.

The new 3.7V, 0.8Wh, 220 mAh battery is more than twice that of the 0.39 Wh rating of the sixth-generation iPod nano. The solutions provider also found that the LCD and digitizer glass are not fused together, which means each component could be replaced separately.

The same could not be said for the battery, Lightning connector, or volume controls, all of which are soldered to the logic board. Pulling out the logic board also removes the battery, button cable, Lightning connector, and headphone jack.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve snagged a new seventh-generation iPod nano and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Initial iSuppli report estimates production cost of 16GB iPhone 5 for $207

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Date: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The exact cost of an iPhone 5 is still under wraps until the handset’s release on Friday, but there’s still a pretty good guess in the meantime.

Per a report released by iSuppli on Tuesday, Apple apparently pays an estimated US$207 to build the base model 16GB iPhone 5, a cost slightly higher than last year’s iPhone 4S.

The market research company noted in its report that while previously-expensive NAND flash memory prices have dropped, the iPhone 5’s display technology and 4G LTE wireless components brings the build cost up to US$207, or US$8 more than consumer pricing after wireless carrier subsidies. In comparison, the bill of materials, or price without labor costs, for last year’s iPhone 4S was estimated to be $188.

In total, the iPhone 5 is estimated to have a BOM of US$199, while the 32GB model rises to US$209 and the 64GB version jumps to US$230. With a manufacturing cost of US$8 across the line, the final cost comes out to US$208, US$217 and US$238 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively.

A report last Friday from UBM TechInsights pegged the 16GB iPhone 5′ BOM to be around US$168, substantially lower than the IHS estimate.

The most expensive part in the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch display which comes in at US$44. Apple is sourcing its screens from multiple suppliers, including LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp, as manufacturing the cutting-edge in-cell displays is complex and results in relatively low yield rates.

“The iPhone 5 makes a big evolutionary step in technology that we have not seen elsewhere with the use of in-cell touch sensing,” said IHS Senior Principal Analyst, Teardown Services, Andrew Rassweiler. “Most other smartphones LCDs use a completely distinct capacitive touchscreen assembly that is physically separate and placed on top of the display. The iPhone 5 partially integrates the touch layers into the display glass, making the product thinner and reducing the number of parts required to build display that senses touch without the need for a separate capacitive touch layer.”

Instead of sandwiching the touch sensing layer between glass substrates, Apple’s in-cell technology integrates the capacitive components with the LCD array, thus doing away with at least one layer of glass.

The company is expected to be using a US$34, LTE-capable wireless system from Qualcomm similar to the one found in the iPad 3. However, the new iPhone’s subsystem swaps out the first-generation MDM9600 baseband processor for the more advanced and power efficient second-generation MDM9615.

In previous years, NAND flash memory was one of the more costly components, however current prices have nearly halved in less than one year.

“NAND flash continues to come down in price as manufacturing processes for these memory chips become more advanced,” Rassweiler said. “And because it is the world’s largest buyer of NAND flash, Apple gets preferential pricing. Apple’s massive leverage in this market is reflected in our price estimate.”

Finally, the firm is estimating Apple’s new A6 processor is a bit more expensive at US$17.50 than the A5 found in the iPhone 4S, which cost US$15 in 2011.

A more comprehensive analysis of the new handset’s internal parts is expected to be completed later this week, when the iPhone 5 hits store shelves on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Samsung begins fabricating 128GB storage modules for mobile devices

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Date: Monday, September 17th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Hardware, News

Samsung may have a stinging legal bill after the Apple fiasco, but this isn’t to say they don’t have some damn cool stuff coming down the line.

Per Electronista, the company’s semiconductor wing has started fabricating 128GB flash storage chips and 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules for mobile devices. Currently, most high-end smartphones are shipping with a maximum of 64GB of internal storage, leaving users with media-heavy libraries unable to take their music collections with them. The introduction of the new modules should go a long way to alleviating this problem, although pricing will remain a key factor in adoption.

Its new 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM modules are built on Samsung’s new 30nm process, enabling 2GB modules to be made on the one package for the first time. The new chips run at 1600 Mbps, which is a 50 percent speed boost over LPDDR2 DRAM packages. Samsung claims that it will enable real-time decoding of 1080p content on smartphones and tablets.

With manufacturing ramping of both memory modules ramping up now, it could align perfectly for the rumored appearance of a Galaxy S III successor, which it is suggested may show as soon as February 2013 at the Mobile World Congress.

In short…imagine a 128GB iOS device somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple drops Samsung as NAND, DRAM supplier for initial batch of next-gen iPhone handsets

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Date: Friday, September 7th, 2012, 06:40
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to say what the specific reason behind this is, but there are definitely a few guesses.

Per Reuters, Industry sources claim Apple has cut orders for Samsung memory modules to be used in its upcoming next-generation iPhone, saying the first batch of handsets widely expected to launch on Sept. 21 following a Sept. 12 debut, will not carry chips made by the South Korean company.

While Apple will continue to use Samsung-made DRAM and NAND flash modules in future products, the Cupertino tech giant is tapering orders made to its smartphone rival, an unnamed supply chain source told Reuters on Friday, Korean local time.

A separate report from The Korean Economic Daily cites another person familiar with the matter who said Apple dropped Samsung memory completely for initial iPhone rollout. Taking the place of Samsung’s units will be parts made by Toshiba, Elpida Memory and SK Hynix.

“Samsung is still in the list of initial memory chip suppliers (for new iPhones),” said the Reuters source. “But Apple orders have been trending down and Samsung is making up for the reduced order from others, notably Samsung’s handset business.”

The person went on to say the move away from Samsung is in line with Apple’s plan to diversify its supply chain, and is not in response to the two companies’ worldwide patent dispute. The iPhone maker has been attempting to reduce its reliance on Samsung parts for months, the most recent move prompting the Korean electronics giant’s value to fall over concern that it would be shut out as an Apple supplier.

The high demand for Apple products frequently outweighs supply, especially at big launches like the upcoming next-generation iPhone, and the company is looking to spread out its supply chain to combat possible component shortages that would cause a production slowdown.

Samsung is the sole supplier of the Retina displays used in the third-generation iPad, and fabricates the A-series SoCs found in Apple’s iDevice line, as well as a number of other integral components.

Apple is expected to debut the sixth-generation iPhone at a Sept. 12 special event, which will be followed by a rollout on Sept. 21.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 21.0.1180.89

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Date: Thursday, August 30th, 2012, 16:35
Category: News, Software

google-chrome-logo

Hey, a web browser update is still a web browser update.

On Thursday, Google released a beta of version 21.0.1180.89 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 43.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Several Pepper Flash fixes (Issue 140577, 144107, 140498, 142479)..

– Microphone issues with tinychat.com (Issue: 143192).

– Devtools regression with “save as” of edited source (issue: 141180).

– Mini ninjas shaders fails (Issue: 142705).

– Page randomly turns red/green gradient boxes (Issue: 110343).

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.89 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla to discontinue support for Firefox under Leopard this October

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 09:22
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Ya gotta upgrade sometime.

Per Macworld, Mozilla will drop support for Apple’s OS X 10.5, or Leopard, after it ships Firefox 16 in October, according to company developers.

“We are not planning to support Mac OS X 10.5 with Firefox 17,” said Josh Aas, who works on the Firefox platform group, in a message last month on Bugzilla. “The builds will fail to run on anything less than Mac OS X 10.6.”

OS X 10.6 is Snow Leopard, the 2009 follow-up to Leopard, which shipped in October 2007.

By Mozilla’s release calendar, Firefox 16 is to debut Oct. 9. Firefox 17, the first that will not to pushed to Leopard users, is slated for a Nov. 20 launch.

Mozilla is following Google’s lead in dropping Leopard; Google released its last browser for OS X 10.5, Chrome 21, on July 31.

Although Mozilla talked about ditching OS X 10.5 support in December 2011, it decided then to keep Apple’s OS on the list. Discussions among engineers, managers and contributors restarted in late June.

According to Mozilla, Leopard’s importance is diminishing. “Mac OS X 10.5 users have been declining by 1% per month, as a share of our total Mac OS X users,” said Aas. “This, combined with the impact of the release of Mac OS X 10.8 [Mountain Lion], means that Mac OS X 10.5 users will likely make up around 10% of Mac OS X users when Firefox 17 ships.”

As of June 21, 17% of Firefox 13’s Mac users were running Leopard, with larger shares on Snow Leopard (35%) and Lion (48%), Aas said. Only 4.6% of all Firefox 13 users were running it on a Mac.

Like Google, another reason Mozilla cited for dumping Leopard was that Apple has also ended support.

The last time Apple patched bugs in Leopard was November 2011, and its most recent security update, in May 2012, disabled older copies of Flash Player to stymie Flashback rather than fix specific security flaws. Nor has Apple maintained Safari on OS X 10.5. The final update was issued over a year ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.4.402.265 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 06:06
Category: News, Software

adobelogo

Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.4.402.265 for Mac OS X, a 11.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

Fixed Issues:
– Netstream crashes intermittently on disconnect(3193417).

– Mouse Lock feature disabled after entering Full Screen Interactive mode(3174344).

– First frame of some live streaming contents freezes(3207896).

– Issue with CameraRoll.browseForImage() causes transparency loss resulting in white color(3291312) To the top.

New Features:
– ActionScript Workers.

– Sandbox Bridge support.

– Licensing support: Flash Player Premium Features for Gaming.

– Stage3D “constrained” profile for increased GPU reach.

– LZMA support for ByteArray.

– StageVideo attachCamera/Camera improvements.

– Compressed texture with alpha support for Stage3D.

Flash Player 11.4.402.265 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 21.0.1180.81

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Date: Friday, August 17th, 2012, 16:42
Category: News, Software

google-chrome-logo

You can’t knock frequent updates.

On Friday, Google released a beta of version 21.0.1180.81 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 43.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Duplex Printing defaults to Yes, which prints extra pages even for a 1 page print out (Issue 138312).

– Print preview takes forever on Win XP (issue: 140044).

– Anti-DDoS inversion of logic (Issues: 141643, 141081).

– Pepper Flash: in file uploads, treats HTTP status != 200 as failure, breaking (e.g.) uploads to Amazon S3 (Issue: 140468).

– Projectmanager.com application causes Flash to hang (Issue: 141018)
Turn off TLS 1.1 in Chrome 21 Stable (Issue: 142172).

– An additional scroll bar appears at the right on many sites (issue: 140239).

– Setting and unsetting display:none obliterates current scroll position (issue: 140101).

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.81 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.271 update

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 15:39
Category: News, security, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.271 for Mac OS X, a 11.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds a slew of security fixes outlined here.

Flash Player 11.3.300.271 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Rumor: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion resource files hint at possible next-gen iMac, Mac Pro models without optical drives

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iMac, Mac Pro, Rumor

It’s the internal files that hint at the upcoming cool stuff.

Per AppleInsider, internal configuration files in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion make apparent references to yet-unreleased new generations of Apple’s iMac (iMac13,0) and Mac Pro (MacPro6,0), both in the context of USB booting options that indicate the new Mac desktops could, for the first time in nearly 20 years, lack built-in optical drives.

The discovery, made by a source close to the story, appears in a configuration plist file used by Boot Camp Assistant to designate the Mac model versions capable of supporting either a optical boot disc, or alternatively, a USB flash drive volume capable of installing Windows to a Boot Camp partition.

While all modern Macs can boot OS X from a USB drive, Apple’s Boot Camp Assistant references the plist to display a listing of newer Mac models with EFI-level support for booting a legacy operating system from a USB flash drive. The primary advantage to using a USB flash drive to create a bootable Windows 7 volume from an ISO (disc image file) is if you lack an optical drive burner.

The file lists a series of Mac models that support USB flash drive booting, referring to each model by its initials and its internal architectural version number. While it includes MacBook and MacBook Pro models with optical drives, most of the Macs in the supported list are optical free.

The list of models (below) include the “MM50” (the Mac mini 5,x series, also known as the “Mid 2011 Mac mini”, which is the first non-Server version of the Mac mini to lack an optical drive), along with other optical-free models including the MacBook Air.

Two of the models in the USB-boot support listing refer to Macs that haven’t been released yet: the MP60 (the six generation Mac Pro, or MacPro6,x) and IM130 (pointing to the 13th generation iMac, or iMac13,x).

The current Mac Pro, updated only slightly in June during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, hasn’t changed enough over the previous model for Apple to assign it a new architecture designation; it is still internally referred to as the “Mac Pro 5,1” just like the Mac Pros that originally shipped back in August 2010.

Apple’s conspicuous lack of timely updates for the Mac Pro (and its relatively small and shrinking proportion of Apple’s Mac sales mix) has created the expectation that the company might eventually discontinue its full sized desktop the same way it terminated its rack mounted Xserve, an idea Apple reportedly evaluated as an option.

However, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook confirmed in June that Apple would not be killing the Mac Pro, stating instead in an email to a concerned customer, “Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s [WWDC] event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year. We also updated the current model today.”

Cook’s choice of the words “working on something really great,” indicates Apple plans to significantly update its Mac Pro model, which has carried forward the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

While removing its optical drive would do much less to save space and thickness compared to Apple’s notebook designs, it’s likely that an all new Apple desktop aimed at professionals would rethink its use of slow, bulky and essentially obsolete optical drive devices and perhaps instead incorporate high performance SSD RAID options for a reduced profile.

Apple’s current iMac (referred to internally as the iMac 12) was last refreshed in May 2011, indicating that it’s overdue for a refresh. A new 13th generation iMac generation identified as “iMac 13,2” has already appeared in Geekbench benchmarks.

Similarly, patent filings reveal Apple has also been working to once again slim down the peripherals that ship with its industry-leading all-in-one desktop, with the designs referenced in those filings having the potential to accompany the next iMac update.

The appearance of new Mac Pro and iMac models in the USB booting support list doesn’t definitively mean the models won’t have optical drives, as it also lists MacBook and MacBook Pro models that do incorporate an optical drive.

At the same time, Apple has clearly indicated in the newest Mac mini and Retina Display MacBook Pro that it plans to get rid of optical disc drives as soon as possible across the board, providing an external USB drive as an option for users who need one.

Users increasingly have fewer opportunities to use optical drives, as the bulk of third party software is now available as a digital download either directly from the vendor or through Apple’s App Store. Apple also sees digital distribution as the future of music and movies, as exemplified in Apple TV, which has never included an optical drive.

The company has never supported any new HD optical disc formats on its products, including Microsoft’s ill fated HD-DVD or Sony’s Blu-ray format, despite initially being involved in the Blu-ray standardization process. Instead, Apple has put its resources behind developing increasingly higher definition audio and video formats that it can distribute electronically through its own iTunes Store.

Apple even developed an alternative iTunes Extras web based multimedia format to deliver the same kind of interactive menus supported on DVDs, with a parallel solution for albums it called iTunes LP.

In addition, Apple introduced technologies intended to wean its Mac platform from optical disc dependance with the MacBook Air, which was designed to remotely share disc drives available on the local network (even remotely install OS X) via Remote Disc and handle Migration Assistant tasks over a wireless network connection.

Modern Mac models can now apply system updates, such as OS X Mountain Lion, entirely via digital downloads, while Apple’s newest Mac models can boot legacy operating systems from USB flash drives.

By ditching the need for a built in optical drive, Apple can not only make new Macs smaller, thinner and more energy efficient, but will also increase their overall reliability, as optical drives become one of the last complex physical mechanisms inside computers.

Apple has similarly helped to pioneer the mainstream adoption of Solid State Drives as an alternative to the more fragile mechanical design inherent in conventional Hard Disk Drives. Its most popular general computing device, the iPad, makes no use of either optical drives or HDD mechanisms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.