Mobile Devices

Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer Teardown

15 August 2011
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Apple MacBook Air (MC503LL/A) under analysis here is the second generation MacBook Air ultra thin notebook computer which comes configured with 2GB of DDR3 memory and 128GB of SSD storage. This model has since been replaced by the Intel Sandy Bridge CPU design with the Thunderbolt super I/O capabilities.

With the second generation MacBook Air, Apple has fully committed to creating a new category of "post-PC laptops that is distinguished by the fact that the design that has all but gone solid state. Gone are the spinning hard disk drives and optical drives and in its place, SSD and reliance on wireless networking.

This change in laptop DNA shifts the use-case towards a truly mobile experience and the resulting ultra thin and portable design makes the case for the new post-PC world of mobile computing.

Apple's redesigned of the MacBook Air is more physical (in this case for the 2nd generation) than electronics. We still see an Intel ultra mobile Core 2 Duo processor as in its MacBook Air predecessor, however, the entire physical all-aluminum uni-body construction has been updated to reflect the learning and know-how Apple gathered in the 3 years of producing the MacBook uni-body enclosures. In fact, the amount of precision machining of the 2nd generation MacBook Air are markedly more pronounce than the 1st generation to take advantage of space savings of new component selection.

These new components are prominently on display as the blade-type SSD module by Toshiba. This new format, co-developed with Apple eliminates physical constraints of more conventional 1.8-inch drives or mSATA variants and allows Apple to pack in a SSD at a 24mm wide daughter board configuration ontop the main PCB. Paired with a 13.3-Inch Samsung display and 6850mAh 4-cell Li-Ion Polymer battery, the 2nd generation MacBook Air sets the new standard in an all solid-state ultra mobile computing platform.

Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer Main ImageApple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer Main Image
Target Market

Ultra Light Laptops


Q4 2010

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The Apple MacBook Air in the above specification retails for approximately $1300.

Availability - N/A, replaced by model MC965LL/A

Volume Estimations

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

Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer Cost AnalysisApple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer Cost Analysis
Cost Notes

Main Cost Drivers ~90% of Total Materials Cost

Toshiba Semiconductor - THNSNC128GMDJ - SSD Module Value Line Item - 128GB, Blade-Type, MLC NAND, SATA 3Gb/s, 3.3V

Intel - AV80576LH0366M - CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SL9400, Dual Core, 1.86 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB, 6MB Cache, 45nm

Samsung - LTH133BT01-A01 - Display Module - 13.3' TFT LCD, WXGA 1440 x 900 Pixels (16:10), 262K Colors, LED Backlight

Nvidia - MCP89UZ-A3 - Chipset w/ Integrated GPU

Enclosure, Main, Top - Machined Aluminum, Anodized, Printed

A1377 - Battery Pack - Li-Ion Polymer, 4-Cell, 7.3V, 6850mAh, 50Wh

Enclosure, Display, Top - Machined Aluminum, Anodized

Broadcom - BCM943224PCIEBT2 - Bluetooth / WLAN Module Value Line Item - IEEE802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V2.1+EDR, Contains Broadcom BCM43224 and BCM2070 Single Chip Solution

Keyboard Assembly - Injection Molded Plastic Keys, Mounted on Metal Backing Plate, w/ Interconnect Flex PCB

Elpida - EDJ1108EFBG-AE-F - SDRAM - DDR3-1066, 1Gb (Qty:8)

Elpida - EDJ1108EFBG-AE-F - SDRAM - DDR3-1066, 1Gb (Qty:8)

AT&S - 8-Layer - FR4, Lead-Free, Halogen-Free

Webcam PCB - Contains VGA Camera Module & Supporting Elements

Lite-On Technology - A1374 - AC Adapter - 14.5V, 3.1A, 45W, w/ 6ft Cord & Magsafe Type Connector, w/ Plastic Cap for the Magsafe Connector

USB Flash Drive - Software Backup, w/ Plastic Case & Paperboard Carrier

Touchpad - Glass, Painted, w/ PSA

Enclosure, Main, Bottom - Stamped / Formed Aluminum, Machined, Anodized, Printed

Enclosure, Display, Bottom - Stamped / Formed Aluminum, Machined, Anodized, Printed

Direct Materials + Manufacturing $680.44

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

Apple outsources 100% of their manufacturing to ODM/EMS partners in the far-east. According to the latest iSuppli's ""Global OEM Manufacturing and Design Analysis - Compute Platforms", Apple's mobile PC manufacturing partners are split between Quanta, Hon Hai (Foxconn) and Pegatron (Asustek) in approximately 55%, 31% and 14% loadings respectively.

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 Ethernet 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.

Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer - Disassembly View 1Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer - Disassembly View 1

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

The Apple MacBook Air has an overall component count of 1833 (excluding box contents), of which 1176 components reside on the Main PCB. In comparison, the first generation Apple MacBook Air had a comparable complexity of 1773.

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.


Apple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer - Box ContentsApple MacBook Air (MC503LLA) Notebook Computer - Box Contents

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