Acquired Electronics360

Consumer Peripherals

OnLive Game System Teardown

30 November 2012
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Technology Teardown Services.

Overview / Main Features

The Onlive micro console is essentially a "thin-client" gaming console that relies on server-side computing and broadband connectivity to produce a gaming experience one would expect from a PC or regular gaming console. As such, the Onlive micro console is less encumbered with the need to have computing and graphics process horsepower resident on the client/device side [as with the case in PCs or traditional gaming consoles], thus reducing the overall BOM cost. While this business model lowers the cost of entry for causal gamers looking for a home console, Onlive is still responsible for the content delivery as well as graphical computational that adds cost to their operations.

OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Device View 1OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Device View 1
Looking at the device itself, the Onlive micro console is little more than an internet appliance with ethernet input, wireless outputs for controller and Bluetooth headsets as well as a core piece of silicon from Marvell that performs the command and controls of connecting the player with Onlive's remote game servers.

OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Console View 1OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Console View 1
The system we have under analysis consist of the main micro console and a single wireless game controller. Our BOM analysis suggests that the hardware cost of the Onlive system comes to over 75% of retail cost. Typically, this pricing differential suggests that the manufacturer is likely producing the hardware at cost (i.e. break-even) when other cost such as licensing and marketing cost are considered. In comparison, some advance gaming consoles such as Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 is near or even slight over retail price. This business model is typical in the gaming industry where most of the profits are made on the fees associated with game titles that the customer subsequently purchases.

Target Market

General Consumers / Gamers


June 2010

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The Onlive micro-console and the single wireless controller kit sells for $99. However, the Onlive gaming service requires a broadband service connection and also, as expected, games are sold separately

Availability - Global (assumed)

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a lifetime production volume of approximately 1.5M 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.

OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Controller View 1OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Controller View 1
Cost Notes

Refer to BOM (XLS file) for detailed analysis

Main Cost Drivers (~60% of Total Materials Cost)

$15.13 - Marvell Technology - 88DE3010 - HD Media Processor - SoC, Dual 1GHz Sheeva Processors, 1 Qdeo Video Post Processor, Dual Channel Multi-Format Decoder, w/ Audio DSP, GFX Engine, HDMI v1.3 Transmitter, Video Encoder, & 6 HD DAC

$5.20 - Elpida - EDE1116AEBG-8E-F - SDRAM - DDR2-800, 1Gb (64Mx16), 1.8V (Qty:4)

$4.25 - Sunny Electronics Corp. - SYS1308-2412-W2 - AC Adapter - 12V, 1.5A, 18W, w/ 6ft Cord

$3.80 - Gul Technologies - 8-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free

$2.40 - McNair - Battery - NiMH, 2.4V, 2400mAh

$2.10 - Samsung Semiconductor - K9F2G08U0B-PCB00 - Flash - NAND, SLC, 2Gb, 2.7-3.6V

$1.90 - Linear Technology - LTC3589EUJ - Power Management IC - 3 Buck DC-DC Converters, 1 Buck-Boost & 3 LDO Regulators, Synchronous, I2C Serial Interface

$1.89 - ST Microelectronics - STM32F103VB - Microcontroller - 32-Bit, 128KB Flash, ARM Cortex, 72MHz, 2.0V-3.6V, 80 GPIOs

$1.40 - CSR - BC57E687C-GITB-E4 - BlueCore5ROM - Single Chip Solution, V3.0 Compliant

$1.35 - ST Microelectronics - STM32F103C8 - Microcontroller - 32-Bit, 64KB Flash, ARM Cortex, 72MHz, 2.0V-3.6V, 37 GPIOs

$1.20 - HDMI Cable

$1.18 - Alps - RKJXP1224002 - Potentiometer - Vertical, Stick Controller, w/ Center Push Switch (Qty:2)

$1.12 - Jiangmen Glory Faith PCB Co., Ltd. - 4-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free

Direct Materials $76.18

Direct Materials + Manufacturing$80.55

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 exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, we made the assumption that the unit was assembled 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 HDMI connectors), 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 Onlive micro console analysis here has an overall component count of 992 (excluding box contents), of which, 766 reside on the console and 226 on the wireless controller. In comparison, thin client PCs typically have complexities of 500 to 1000 parts.

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. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China.

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

Nearly half the cost within the "console" assembly of the Onlive system is comprised of the Marvell HD media processor and the accompanying memory packages (the 512MB of Elpida SDRAM and 256MB of NAND flash storage). The power management function are populated with Linear Tech power management IC and regulators. Also, Onlive uses an Atmel RF transceiver along with a ST Micro microcontroller IC to manage the wireless connection to and from the separate wireless game controller. This pairing is also seen on the controller assembly.

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Onlive micro console design:



  • HD Media Processor - Marvell Technology - 88DE3010, SoC, Dual 1GHz Sheeva Processors, 1 Qdeo Video Post Processor, Dual Channel Multi-Format Decoder, w/ Audio DSP, GFX Engine, HDMI v1.3 Transmitter, Video Encoder, & 6 HD DAC


  • SDRAM - Elpida - EDE1116AEBG-8E-F, DDR2-800, 1Gb (64Mx16), 1.8V (Qty. 4)
  • Flash - Samsung Semiconductor - K9F2G08U0B-PCB00, NAND, SLC, 2Gb, 2.7-3.6V

Power Management

  • Power Management IC - Linear Technology - LTC3589EUJ, 3 Buck DC-DC Converters, 1 Buck-Boost & 3 LDO Regulators, Synchronous, I2C Serial Interface
  • Regulator - Linear Technology - LTC3850EUF, DC-DC Controller, Dual, Step-Down, 2-Phase, Synchronous


  • Bluetooth - CSR - BC57E687C-GITB-E4, BlueCore5ROM, Single Chip Solution, V3.0 Compliant
  • RF Transceiver - Atmel - AT86RF231-ZU, 2.4GHz, IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, RF4CE, SP100, WirelessHART, & ISM Applications


Microcontroller - ST Microelectronics - STM32F103C8, 32-Bit, 64KB Flash, ARM Cortex, 72MHz, 2.0V-3.6V, 37 GPIOs


User Interface

  • Microcontroller - ST Microelectronics - STM32F103VB, 32-Bit, 128KB Flash, ARM Cortex, 72MHz, 2.0V-3.6V, 80 GPIOs
  • RF Transceiver - Atmel - AT86RF231-ZU - 2.4GHz, IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, RF4CE, SP100, WirelessHART, & ISM Applications


  • Potentiometer - Alps - RKJXP1224002, Vertical, Stick Controller, w/ Center Push Switch (Qty.2)

OnLive Game System_(iSi) - Box ContentsOnLive Game System_(iSi) - Box Contents

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