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Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer Teardown

18 June 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

Main Features / Overview

All-in-one PC from Sony, the Vaio VGC-LT18E is part of a line of Sony Vaio all-in-ones designed to compete more head-on with Apple's hardware approach (and follows the trend of other PC manufacturers to enter this 'space'). The Sony, the Vaio VGC-LT18E features a 22 inch LCD widescreen (larger than competing non-Mac models which don't surpass the 20 inch mark - note that Apple now has a line of 24 iMacs), an Intel® Core™2 Duo T7500 processor with the Mobile Intel® PM965 Express Chipset, 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a 320GB 7200rpm Serial ATA hard drive, and Nvidia GeForce 8400 M GT GPU.

This Sony all-in-one does a good job of competing with not only Apple's hardware specs, but also the Dell XPS one and Gateway One models analyzed by iSuppli. The integrated TV tuner (also in the Dell XPS One) is a lacking feature from Apple iMac units - but seems to be the trend for PC makers entering this space. Also, one area Apple falls short, it seems, is in providing a conduit for HD content - there's none in the store and no strategy it seems to integrate Blu-Ray into it's systems. Note that while this particular Vaio all-in-one (18E) does not feature it, the next model up (19U) does.

Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer Main ImageSony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer Main Image

Target Market

High-end consumer.

Released

August 27, 2007

Pricing and Availability

Sony's Vaio VGC-LT18E sells, from various e-tailer websites at the time of writing (April 2008) for as low as $1499.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis we have assumed that the production volume of the Sony VGC-LT18E is 1 million units for the lifetime (2 - 2.5 yrs) of the product.

As a reminder, volume production assumptions are meant primarily to be used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially), and not necessarily as a market accurate estimate for a specific model. Our estimations are based on iSuppli market research and we derive rational estimates based on overall market shares of the manufacturer in question, as well as the number of products in a given portfolio and the relative popularity of certain lines of products.

Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Motherboard TopSony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Motherboard Top

Market Sector / Performance

Per iSuppli's Compute Platforms Market Tracker - Q1 2008, in 2007 Sony maintained, per iSuppli research, the number eight slot in terms of PC overall shipments, at a level of nearly 5 million units, which represented an approximate market share of just under 2%. In 2008, we expect the desktop PC market to grow unit shipments to 163 million units, representing year on year unit shipment growth of 3.2 percent.

We have yet to forecast the all-in-one desktop PC as a separate category, but it should be expected to grow at a healthy rate as it represents an aesthetic evolution for PCs taking them out of the home office and re-purposing them to a more prominent position within the household.

Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer Cost AnalysisSony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer Cost Analysis
What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing and test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of Intel®lectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Function / Performance

No performance testing was performed on the Sony VGC-LT18E.

Manufacturing Notes

Sony Partners and Manufacturing

Sony used manufacturing partners, Foxconn, Quanta, and a small amount with Asustek in 2006 for manufacturing their notebook systems (which are assumed to be the most likely partners to use for this all-in-one system.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

As with all computer systems, this system has a number of various sub-assemblies built in various countries - see the 'Overview' section on the online presentation for a list of countries of origin for the major sub-assemblies such as display, hard drive, etc. It is assumed, when not otherwise labeled, that all other unlabeled components and systems were produced by suppliers in areas of the lowest possible regional cost: China. Final assembly here is confirmed as China - and for the Accessory PCBs, we have simplified, (out of spreadsheet necessity and as this is an amalgam of small PCBs) our calculations to assume that all were made in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as chargers), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Motherboard BottomSony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Motherboard Bottom

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

All in one systems are typically built more like upright laptops than desktops in their architecture and design choices. They are built in this way in order to take advantage of smaller, more compact components, to allow for a sleeker envelope for the product. The end result is not only more expensive than a conventional desktop design because of the components used, but is more complicated to manufacture as the working spaces are tighter, more tightly packed, and less modular. This inevitably adds some cycle time and cost for hand assembly.

Also, in terms of interconnect: dense designs often implement expensive flex circuitry to help interconnect various ports. Flex circuits are always more costly than basic rigid PCBAs or desktop-style super-standard ribbon cables / cable harnesses.

In terms of the component count in the Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L), the component count is well above average - pushing the upper limits of complexity when compared with other all-in-one computers at a total of 3717 components (not including box contents, external components, systems and accessories) of which 496 are mechanical components.

One important note: modular assemblies, such as hard drives, optical drives and purchased items such as the WLAN modules, are counted as a single unit in this analysis - refer to BOM for details on which items are fully broken down and itemized to the sub-component level. In most cases where we assume the OEM or their ODM are building the unit 'in-house' we will break down to the lowest level discrete component.

These all-in-one systems, are definitely complex by all metrics and entail a high number of discrete sub-assemblies which inevitably adds cycle time in manufacturing, but also affects yields, rework and ultimately returns, as more complex systems present more opportunities for system failures and defects.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

Motherboard

CPU

CPU - Intel® Core™2 Duo Mobile Processor, 2.20GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB, 65nm Process - Intel® - LF80537GG0494M (Core™2 Duo T7500 OEM)

Northbridge

Northbridge - Memory and Graphics Controller Hub - Intel® - LE82PM965SLA5U (PM965)

Southbridge

Southbridge - I/O Controller Hub - Intel® - NH82801HBMSLA5Q (ICH8M)

I/O & Interface

Ethernet Controller - PCI-E, Gigabit LAN - Marvell Technology - 88E8055-NNC1

PC Card Power-Interface Switch - Single Slot, for Parallel PCMCIA Controllers - Texas Instruments - TPS2220BPWP

FlashMedia PC Controller and IEEE1394 Open HCI Host - Texas Instruments - PCI8412ZHK

Audio Codec - HD - Sony (Sigmatel) - CXD9872

GPU - 450MHz, Supports DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 & High Dynamic Range (HDR) - Nvidia - GeForce 8400M GT

Clock

Clock Generator - IDT - ICS9LPR358AGLF

Memory

Flash - NOR, 8Mb, SPI - Spansion - S29AL008D70TFI02

SODIMM

SODIMM DDR2 - 1GB, 667MHz - Hynix - HYMP512S64CP8-Y5

Camera PCB

Video Interface Controller - USB 2.0 - Ricoh - R5U870

Wireless USB PCB

RF Transceiver - Wireless USB, 2.4GHz - Cypress Semiconductor - CYWUSB6934-48LFXC

Modem PCB

V.92/V.90 Host-Processed High Definition Audio Modem - Conexant - CX11270-A

Display

22' TFT LCD - 16.7M Color, 1680x1050 (WSXGA+), 473.76mm x 296.13mm Viewable Area, 16:10 Aspect Ratio, 0.282mm Pixel Size, 300Cd/m2, 1000:1 Contrast Ratio, 5ms Response Time - AU Optronics - M220EW01V2

Storage Device

Optical Drive

CD/DVD RW Drive - Slim Internal Type - Panasonic - UJ-85J-B

Hard Drive

3.5' 320 GB 7200 rpm - Western Digital - WD3200AAJS

Mini PCIe WLAN Card

Mini PCIe WLAN Card - Intel® - 4965AGN

Baseband Processor - 802.11n - Intel - PC82535MDE

WLAN Radio - 802.11n - Intel - JC82535RDE

Mini PCI TV Tuner

Avermedia

TV Tuner IC - Hybrid Digital & Analog, w/ Integrated Analog Demodulator - Xceive - XC3028ACQ

ATSC Demodulator - VSB/QAM - LG Electronics - LGDT3303

DTV Video Decoder - PCI - NXP Semiconductors - SAA7130HL

Mini PCI MPEG Encoder Card

MPEG Encoder - Fujitsu - MB86397

FM / VIF PLL Demodulator - Multi-standard, PAL/NTSC/PLL - NXP Semiconductors - TDA9881HN

Sony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Enclosure DisassemblySony VGC-LT18E (PCG-281L) Computer - Enclosure Disassembly



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