Teardown experts crack open Apple’s new iPad

March 15, 2012

The electronics hardware experts at iFixit find themselves again in the spotlight as they crack open the latest iPad to see what chips, display and other components make it tick. Teardowns, as they’re called, are closely followed by investors betting on which companies supply components for consumer electronics devices like Apple’s massively iPads and iPhones.

iFixit sent its engineers to Australia, where they managed to buy one of the first new iPads to be sold, and — fueled by cans of Red Bull –  proceeded to crack it open with tools ranging from guitar picks (to pry open the cover) to “spudgers” (for poking and prodding at wires).

They’re live-blogging the entire affair, but so many people appear to be watching that iFixit’s webpage is responding very slowly.

UPDATE – Photos from the teardown appear to show a Broadcom chip, which iFixit says is a baseband/WiFi/Bluetooth component. You can also see silicon from Avago, which specializes in semiconductors used to keep different kinds of radio frequency chips from interfering with each other, and another chip from Texas Instruments.

Being chosen for an Apple product may be a double-edged sword for chip companies. On one hand, inclusion in an iPad or iPhone suggests a company’s chips must be top-notch. But on the other hand, with Apple’s reputation for squeezing its suppliers to get the lowest price possible – these companies might not be making a ton of profit. 

UPDATE – They have now identified an i/o controller from Broadcom, as well as a Qualcomm RF transceiver that supports LTE.

iFixit also said a model number on the iPad’s display suggests it is made by Samsung. That fits with a recent report by market research firm IHS iSuppli saying it believes Apple has chosen Samsung, LG Display and Sharp to supply displays for the iPad, but that volume shipments right now are coming from Samsung.

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