Consumer Peripherals

Nintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers Teardown

21 November 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Nintendo Wii is designed and marketed as the next generation video gaming console intended not just for the hard-core gaming demographic but for the general public. And by all metrics, Nintendo has done just that by claiming its coveted place in living rooms across the globe and outpacing the sales of more powerful gaming consoles from both Sony and Microsoft.

Nintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers Main ImageNintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers Main Image

Most obvious and notable aspect of the Wii game-play is the motion sensing wireless controllers which allows for a richer and more immersive gaming experience. The remote controllers consist of a primary multi-function "Wii Remote controller and an auxiliary ""Nunchuk" controller with analog joy-stick and provisions to be connected to the primary Wii Remote via a proprietary port. The primary Wii Remote uses both the built-in accelerometer and infrared technology to position itself in 3-D space relative to a stationary sensor bar located at or near the display/TV. Nintendo uses Bluetooth 2.0 as the data connection layer between the primary controller and video console.

As for the console itself, the Wii is powered by a custom IBM Power-PC based ""Broadway" processor and AMD (ATI) ""Hollywood" graphics processor featuring 24MB of integrated PSRAM. The compact console features a slot loading optical disk drive and SD card reader. Unlike, it more powerful competitors, the Nintendo Wii lacks a built in hard drive and relies on onboard flash memory or external memory modules for storage.

The Wii is the 5th generation home gaming console from Nintendo and supports backward compatible with official GameCube game titles.

Target Market

Mainstream consumers.


Per press releases, first release in the US on November 19, 2006.

Nintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers - Enclosure DisassemblyNintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers - Enclosure Disassembly

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The base console package (with controllers) retails for $250. However, typically the Nintendo Wii console is bundled with various games and therefore can have several price points depending on the permutation of included games and accessories which can drive prices to $400 or more.

Availability - global (although console has been in short supply in many markets)

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime (~5 years) production volume of 45M 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 increment by an order of magnitude. Minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis.

Market / Sector Performance

According to iSuppli's Topical Report titled, ""Video Game Consoles - Battle for the Living Room; Q3 2008", only 3 major brands dominate the video game console industry. In terms of existing market share, Sony maintains the lead with nearly 49% of the hardware shipment metric with both PlayStation 2 and 3 consoles. Nintendo comes in a strong second with about 35% of the existing hardware. In fact, the Nintendo Wii had the strongest sales in all of 2007, beating out Sony and Microsoft in absolute unit sales.

Overall, the gaming console hardware market grew to about 47 Million shipments in 2007. iSuppli predicts that this growth trend will sustain at an 11% growth rate through to 2009. Further, the integration of broadband connectivity in these gaming consoles will very likely fuel the expansion of the revenue business models of Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and other 3rd parties as these consoles begin to provide compelling content to the coveted living room audience.

Nintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers Cost AnalysisNintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Top Cost Drivers (Representing 60% of Direct Materials Costs)

AMD - GPU & I/O Controller - ARM Core - Hollywood

BWL2N01KA - Matsushita - Panasonic - Optical Drive - Slot Loading, Slim-Line, DVD-ROM, Single-Side

AC Adapter - Input: 120V, 52W, 60Hz, Output: 12V, 3.7A

IBM - CPU - Broadway

BCM4318EKFBG - Broadcom - WLAN - Single Chip, IEEE802.11b/g

Pan-International Industrial Corp - 6-Layer - FR4

HY27UF084G2MTPCB - Hynix - Flash - NAND, SLC, 4Gb (512M x 8bit), 3.3V

Ceramic Multilayer - X5R/X7R (Qty:330)

Console Stand

Multi-Object Tracking Module Value Line Item

Materials and Manufacturing $154.92

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

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

According to iSuppli EMS/ODM analysts, Nintendo utilizes Foxconn as the primary EMS provider for the Wii gaming console. Furthermore, one can see the Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision) presence within the device from top to bottom including the Bluetooth and WLAN modules. By using Foxconn across the board, and not outside 3rd parties for such modules, too, Nintendo can gain cost advantages by eliminating margin stack-up.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, 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 USB 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 pin-count of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

Compared with the Xbox 360 and the SonyPlaystation 3, the Wii is, by far, the least complex, with the lowest component count, material and manufacturing costs. Our recent analysis of the re-spun 2008 Xbox, for example, revealed a total console component count and cost much greater than the Wii - and came in at ~1660 components, and our recent analysis of the 2008 Playstation 3 (not a complete teardown) revealed an estimate of ~2600 components for the console - but the Wii comes in at a very lightweight 834 components in the console itself. Everything seems simpler in the Wii when compared with the other consoles, but mostly it comes down to the electronic design - it's well-integrated with really only 2 major core pieces of silicon, and a very reduced set of electronic components, with no really exotic components.

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

As mentioned in the complexity section - the Wii is far simpler electronically than the Xbox and PS3. It has, in fairness, a reduced feature-set and power, of course, but at the end of the day - this is simply far less complicated with far fewer components, making the design better integrated, and of course, cheaper ultimately. There's no HD, no Blu-Ray, no hard drive, no big pieces of GDDR or XDR memory, etc. It's missing a lot of expensive components, therefore.

And what it does have, boils down to two main ICs (the rest are hardly worth mentioning) - the GPU, code-named ""Hollywood" (the expensive bit - with two large dies) from AMD, and the CPU code-named ""Broadway" from IBM, which has an amazingly small die for a ""CPU" in this application. In fact, despite so many references to this CPU being built in 90nm, we are not entirely convinced this design has not undergone a shrink, and modeled the chip in both process nodes as a point of comparison (for cost).

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Nintendo Wii design:


Main PCB


  • GPU & I/O Controller - AMD - ""Holllywood" - ARM Core - Assumed to be in 90nm process node


  • IBM ""Broadway" Processor - Assumed to be in 90nm process node

Optical Drive

  • Matsushita - Panasonic - BWL2N01KA - Slim-Line DVD-ROM

WLAN Module

  • Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision) - Based on BCM4318xxxxx

Bluetooth Module

  • Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision) - Based on BCM2045xxxxxx


Nintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers - Box ContentsNintendo Wii Video Game Console and Controllers - Box Contents

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