Overview / Main Features
What it is - Kindle Fire is a 7" touchscreen tablet offered at the very low retail price point of $199 USD which is what has made the product so notable. This low cost point is achieved through multiple means (see below for details), while still offering most of the basic features that tablet users want in terms of media consumption - which is what tablets are - media consumption devices. And that is certainly above all what Amazon intends the Kindle line for - for consumers to buy and consume media and products and services from Amazon - on the Kindle.
Display & Touchscreen - The 7" display module (16.7M Color IPS TFT LCD, 1024 x 600 Pixels) is from LG Display in the model we tore down. In fact the display is dual-sourced between LG Display and E Ink Holdings (fabbed for them by Chungwa Picture Tubes (CPT)). The iPad displays have also been from LG Display who licenses E Ink's FFS technology. So the display should represent "on par" performance with iPad's display.
Touchscreen - The display appears to be conventional capacitive glass on glass. The control IC on the touchscreen is from a previously unseen source (Ilitek). This is becoming increasingly common, and suggests that many new touch panel and IC suppliers have jumped into the fray to satisfy increasing demand. This trend to lesser known sources (at least for the control ICs includes recent models such as the Vizio tablet (which featured an EETI touch control IC), and the Lenovo A60 smartphone (which featured a FocalTech Systems touch control IC). Touchscreen suppliers are hard to identify from physical samples - and we don't know the supplier for the touch module on this teardown. The Ilitek chip features 3 die but little is known about the chip. It is possible that the 3 die are arranged a little like Atmel's master/slave solution with multiple chips).
Applications Processor - The OMAP4430 applications processor from Texas Instruments was expected. This OMAP4430 chip (also seen in the Droid Bionic XT875, LG Optimus 3D P920, and RIM PLayBook RDJ21WW) is a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9, 1GHz processor with IVA 3 Hardware Accelerator, SGX540 3D Graphic Core, 1080P 2D, 720P 3D, and is produced in 45nm process geometry.
8GB eMMC NAND Flash memory - this is exactly as expected. eMMC NAND Flash is fairly popular with most manufacturers other than Apple, as it includes memory management circuitry.
Some of the areas where actual Kindle Fire specs are a bit lighter than initially thought include:
DRAM - We had assumed originally, for the purposes of our preliminary estimate, that the Kindle Fire might have as much as 8Gbits of low power DDR2 DRAM memory - as this is increasingly common with newer handset and tablets (though typically with more processing power). In fact the Kindle Fire ships with only 4Gbits of low power DDR2.
WLAN "Combo" Module - The Kindle does not feature a combo module. "Combo modules" these days offer a combination of WLAN, Bluetooth, and FM radio functionality and are based on a few very common integrated circuits: Broadcom's BCM 4325, 4329, and 4330, or Texas Instruments" WL1271 or WL1285. Major vendors often buy modular solutions with these chips from well known vendors such as Murata. The Kindle Fire keeps things cheap and employs a module from a heretofore unheard of module supplier (Jorjin). The Jorjin module is based on Texas Instruments" WL1270 - a WLAN-only chip that we have only seen once before in the Barnes & Noble Color Nook teardown.
Battery - The battery was expected to have the same capacity, roughly, as the RIM PlayBook (3.7V/5400mAh - or about 20Wh), in fact the battery is 3.7V with 4400mAh capacity or about 16Wh.
Box Contents - Amazon has really streamlined this portion by shipping the Kindles in shipping boxes that double as the commercial "display" box. The materials are all recycled, and the only accessory included is a cheap, simple wall charger (5V/1.8A).
Texas Instruments Dominates this design. Not only do TI have the core OMAP processor - but many other component slots (see preliminary BOM). The TI print position dollar footprint identified was a little over $23 per unit - we are assuming that TI is offering aggressive pricing for this potentially high volume flagship device.
Pricing and Availability
Pricing - Currently $199 USD from Amazon, AND from 3rd party retailers such as Best Buy.
Availability - North America primarily
For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a 1 year production volume of approximately 20M units.
As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily 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). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.
Low cost specsmanship - in the Kindle Fire includes all of the below-mentioned items but also includes more obvious things like the 7" display, mostly plastic and stamped housing components (no aluminum unibody or magnesium housing), no cameras, and no 3G/4G wireless modules.
Our Public Estimates vs. Final Estimates - By the time we got the actual hardware, we saw no big surprises. Almost everything inside the Kindle Fire is was foreseen with respect to the preliminary estimate we performed back in late September 2011. Even as recently as a few days ago we still estimated in public that the Kindle Fire BOM costs with manufacturing (and margin for an EMS provider this time) were just around $201USD. Now that we have finalized our analysis, several of our budgetary placeholders for "other items" have turned out lower than we had budgeted for - and the whole unit now comes in below $190 USD for the same total costs. Part of this is just the nature of estimating without all the details accounted for, and part of this is by design as we do not always publish in the public domain our "best" knowledge of pricing - in order to protect ourselves from being reverse engineered by competitors (it has been seen to happen). Memory pricing and the display dipped a tad as a result of this latter effect. The rest of the deltas come down to there just being not much left to cost when we finally itemized the entire BOM.
Display & Touchscreen -The cost of these two display & touchscreen elements collectively still represent nearly half of the total BOM costs. Improved FFS production yields and efficiencies have assisted greatly in bringing down the price of FFS tablet displays, and similarly touchscreens have made big strides in pricing reduction for the same reasons over the course of 2011.
Low Costs - The Result of Many Factors - Most of the lower costs in this tablet are the result of spec-driven choices, but also because of the ongoing erosion of market pricing for key components, and Amazon's relative purchasing stature that has grown as other tablet launches have simply not lived up to suppliers" volume expectations. Suppliers are interested in finding the next "rockstar" tablet that will allow them to sell millions of widgets into a single or a handful of different SKUs and are likely willing to cut Amazon better deals as a result.
Refer to BOM (XLS file) for detailed analysis
Main Cost Drivers (~87% of Total Materials Cost)
$46.00 - Display Module - LG Display - LD070WS2-SL05 - 7.0" Diagonal, 16.7M Color IPS TFT LCD, 1024 x 600 Pixels, Wide Viewing Angle (Qty:1)
$39.00 - Touchscreen / Display Window - 7.0" Diagonal, Capacitive, Glass/Glass Overlay, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB (Qty:1)
$16.50 - Battery Pack - Li-Polymer, 2-Cell, 3.7V, 4400mAh (Qty:1)
$14.66 - Texas Instruments - OMAP4430FCBS - Application Processor - TI OMAP4, Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9, 1GHz, IVA 3 Hardware Accelerator, SGX540 3D Graphic Core, 1080P 2D, 720P 3D, 45nm Process, PoP (Qty:1)
$12.00 - Samsung - KLM8G2FEJA-A002 - Flash - eMMC NAND, 8GB, MLC (Qty:1)
$8.10 - Elpida - EDB4064B2PB-8D-F - SDRAM - Mobile DDR2, 4Gb, PoP (Qty:1)
$4.60 - Jorjin - WG7310-30 - WLAN Module Value Line Item - IEEE802.11b/g/n, Contains Texas Instruments WL1270B WLAN Single Chip Solution, Triquint WLAN / Bluetooth Transmit Module (Qty:1)
$3.75 - Main PCB / Battery Mounting Plate - Die-Cast Magnesium (Qty:1)
$3.45 - Enclosure, Main, Rear - Injection Molded Plastic, Printed, w/ ESD/EMI Coating & Rubberized Coating (Qty:1)
$2.80 - HannStar - Main PCB - 8-Layer - FR4/RCF HDI, 2+4+2, Lead-Free (Qty:1)
Direct Materials $173.24
Direct Materials + Manufacturing $187.56
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 with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual 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 in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.
EMS Providers / Partners
It is our understanding that Quanta (also the manufacturer of the RIM PlayBook)is the primary manufacturer of the Kindle Fire. It is interesting that the main PCB is labeled HannStar, who themselves have some basic tablets.
Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions
Based on device markings, we've based our analysis with the final assembly in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced 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 wall power charger), 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.
Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.
Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity
The Amazon Kindle Fire is one of the "lightest" tablet designs we have seen in terms of component count. In fact, at a total component count of 543 components (not including Box Contents), the Kindle Fire weighs in at roughly half the component count of most smartphones and many other tablet designs. Much of this boils down to less features, which always drive component counts. But beyond the raw component count - the Kindle Fire just offers simpler build features - such as the plastic housings. And is usually the case with tablets - it's kind of a "two-part" design for the enclosure (or in this case 3) - which is the display and touchscreen represent half of the enclosure - and the rest is often a rigid, single-piece back cover - but in this case, because of the plastic, there is also an internal magnesium frame to provide internal assembly mounting points and more structural strength to the tablet.
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.
The core of the Main PCB design, is of course the Texas Instruments OMAP4430 applications processor which is a TI OMAP4, Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9, 1GHz chip with an IVA 3 Hardware Accelerator, SGX540 3D Graphic Core, 1080P 2D, and 720P 3D graphics processing. But TI also has the majority of most other "high function" chips in the Kindle Fire design.
Here is a summary of the major components used in the Kindle Fire design:
Display / Touchscreen
Display - LG Display - LD070WS2-SL05 - 7.0" Diagonal, 16.7M Color IPS TFT LCD, 1024 x 600 Pixels, Wide Viewing Angle
Touchscreen / Display Window - 7.0" Diagonal, Capacitive, Glass/Glass Overlay, Painted, w/ Integral Flex PCB
Applications Processor - Texas Instruments - OMAP4430FCBS - TI OMAP4, Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9, 1GHz, IVA 3 Hardware Accelerator, SGX540 3D Graphic Core, 1080P 2D, 720P 3D, 45nm Process, PoP
NAND Flash - Samsung - KLM8G2FEJA-A002 - eMMC NAND, 8GB, MLC
SDRAM - Elpida - EDB4064B2PB-8D-F - Mobile DDR2, 4Gb, PoP
Module - Jorjin - WG7310-30 - IEEE802.11b/g/n, Contains Texas Instruments WL1270B WLAN Single Chip Solution, Triquint WLAN / Bluetooth Transmit Module
PMIC - Texas Instruments - TWL6030B107CMR - w/ USB OTG Module and Switch Mode Battery Charger
User Interface and Sensors
LVDS Transmitter - Texas Instruments - SN75LVDS83BZQLR - 4 7-Bit Parallel-Load Serial-Out Shift Registers, 1 7x Clock Synthesizer, 5 LVDS Line Drivers
Audio Codec - Texas Instruments - TLV320AIC3110IRHB - 24-Bit, Stereo 95dB SNR DAC, Mono 91dB SNR ADC, w/ Stereo Class-D Speaker Amplifier
Accelerometer - Bosch Sensortec - BMA250 - 3-Axis, 2g/4g/8g/16g, Digital Output