Overview / Main Features
What it is - the ASUS B121 is an enterprise-focused tablet running full blown Windows 7 Professional with an Intel i5-470UM 1.33GHz core processor. Though it looks and feels like so many consumer oriented tablets that are ARM core based, for many users, the convenience of the tablet form factor with the power of full Windows and the associated enterprise 'Office' suite will be attractive to a certain market segment.
Basic Features - This Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 features Intel i5-470UM 1.33GHz core processor (supported by Intel's HM55 express chipset (platform controller hub), a Sandisk 64GB SSD, a 12.1 inch diagonal display module with capacitive touchscreen, as well as a Wacom digitzer built in (mounted under the screen) for 'stylus' usage. We recently tore down the HTC Flyer that also featured the hybrid capacitive touch with digitizer from N-trig, and have noticed a number of tablet designs now featuring this functionality. Wacom has been one of the most well-known solution-providers for digitizers for many years, while N-trig is somewhat of a new entrant to this market place.
The simultaneously analyzed Windows tablet, the Samsung Series 7 Slate 700T1A-A01, also features a hybrid touchscreen with Wacom digitizer.
Other features of the Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 include 4GB of DDR3 DRAM (a SO-DIMM module), a 4660 mAh Li-Ion polymer battery, a Qualcomm-Atheros based WiFi/BT combo module (half-mini PCIe module), and a 2MP webcam module. The ASUS also comes bundled with a wireless keyboard from Microsoft.
What's interesting about this design is that in many ways it uses more standard PC or notebook components than other ARM-based tablets we have seen (such as half mini PCIe modules for the combo module and SO-DIMM for memory). Most other recent tablets have all memory mounted directly (soldered) onto main PCBs, and, in order to save space tend to dispense with serviceability or modularity, as it adds to the form factor and component count, etc.
Enterprise and certain consumers needing full PC functionality in tablet form factor.
Pricing - Currently $1300 USD from Amazon at the time of writing (Feb 2012)
Availability - Worldwide Assumed
For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have applied a lifetime production volume of approximately 150K 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.
Main Cost Drivers ~81% of Total Materials Cost
Intel - CN80617005190A - CPU - Intel Core i5-470UM Processor, 3MB Cache, 1.33 GHz, Integrated 45nm Graphics Core & Memory Controller, 32nm CPU Core (Qty: 1)
Sandisk - SDSA4DH-064G - SSD Mini PCIe Module - 64GB, mSATA (Qty: 1)
Hydis - HV121WX6-112 - Display Module - 12.1' Diagonal, AFFS, 1280x800 Pixels, LED Backlight, 262K Color, w/ Built-in Wacom Digitizer & Controller (Qty: 1)
Touchscreen / Display Window - 12.1' Diagonal, Gorilla Glass Over ITO Film, Capacitive, w/ EETI EXC7700s, Integrated Display Mounting Bezel & 22 Brass Inserts (Qty: 1)
Simplo Technology - C22-EP121 - Battery Pack - Li-Ion Polymer, 4-Cell, 7.3V, 4660mAh, w/ Metal Enclosure, Integrated 8 Discrete Insulated Wires, 1 8-Position Pin Socket Connector, Black Mylar Insulators & White Mylar Labels (Qty: 1)
Wacom - SU5E-12W34AU-01X - Touch Digitizer - Contains Wacom W8004 & Panasonic MN101EF35D controller Ics (Qty: 1)
Intel - BD82HM55SLGZS - Platform Controller Hub - HM55 Express Chipset, 3.5W (Qty: 1)
Gold Circuit Electronics - PCB - 10-Layer - FR4, Lead Free (Qty: 2)
Samsung Semiconductor - M471B5273DH0-CH9 - SO-DIMM DDR3-1333 - 4GB, 1.5V (Qty: 1)
Microsof - Keyboard - Bluetooth (Qty: 1)
Direct Materials + Manufacturing $500.25
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
China and Taiwan are the main manufacturing footprint locations for ASUS and their partners.
Major ODM partners for PCs are in this order: Pegatron (was formerly part of ASUS before it was spun out last year), Compal, Quanta, Hon Hai.
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
All of the tablets we have looked at since the release of the first iPad have been ARM-based attempts to clone the success of the Apple iPad they have been imitating. Because of the different architectures, they are not directly comparable, but are the best comparison points of reference against which to judge this full 'PC functionality' tablet, and Ultrabooks are also a good point of reference against which to compare such a design.
The Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 features a total of 1595 components (this includes sub-components of the WiFi/Combo card and the SSD (which can, depending on an OEM's perspective, be counted as a single item). This count includes box contents - everything basically. A few comparable ARM tablet points of reference include the iPad 2 (at 1239 components - this included a 3G module and all of its subcomponents), the Kindle Fire (555 components), and the HTC Flyer (also with a hybrid touchscreen and digitizer that comes in at 1537 components). It's interesting to note that despite a somewhat PC-like architecture, and modular interfaces in the Asus B121, the component count is only slightly higher than the HTC flyer, but that HTC Flyer design also included a 3G module. In that sense by backing out the 3G module - the ASUS count is about 20% higher in component count than the most comparable tablet in our teardown portfolio.
As far as ultrabook comparability goes - the MacBook Air (MC503LL/A) had a total component count of 1847. Ultrabooks are inherently more complex than tablets (even if they have the same electronics) due to the complexities of the enclosures.
Finally - as a direct point of comparison this ASUS Eee Slare B121-A1 is almost identical in terms of part count to the comparable Samsung Seres 7 Slate (700T1A-A01) (with a total count of 1568 components) analyzed concurrently with this ASUS slate.
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.
This Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 features Intel i5-470UM 1.33GHz core processor (supported by Intel's HM55 express chipset (platform controller hub), a Sandisk 64GB SSD, a 12.1 inch diagonal display module with capacitive touchscreen, as well as a Wacom digitzer built in (mounted under the screen) for 'stylus' usage.
Other features of the Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 include 4GB of DDR3 DRAM (a SO-DIMM module), a 4660 mAh Li-Ion polymer battery, a Qualcomm-Atheros based WiFi/BT combo module (half-mini PCIe module), and a 2MP webcam module.
Here is a summary of the major components used in the Asus Eee Slate B121-A1design:
Intel - CN80617005190A - CPU - Intel Core i5-470UM Processor, 3MB Cache, 1.33 GHz, Integrated 45nm Graphics Core & Memory Controller, 32nm CPU Core
Intel - BD82HM55SLGZS - Platform Controller Hub - HM55 Express Chipset, 3.5W
Samsung Semiconductor - M471B5273DH0-CH9 - SO-DIMM DDR3-1333 - 4GB, 1.5V
I/O & Interface
iTE - IT8570E - Embedded Controller
Realtek - ALC269Q-GR - Audio Codec - High Definition, w/ 2+2 Channel DAC, 4-Channel ADC & Class D Speaker Amplifier
Infineon - SLB9635TT12 - Trusted Platform Module (TPM) - Microcontroller for Computing Security, 0.22um CMOS
Display / Touchscreen/Digitizer
Display Module - 12.1' Diagonal, AFFS, 1280x800 Pixels, LED Backlight, 262K Color, w/ Built-in Wacom Digitizer & Controller - Hydis - HV121WX6-112
Touchscreen / Display Window - 12.1' Diagonal, Gorilla Glass Over ITO Film, Capacitive, w/ EETI EXC7700s, Integrated Display Mounting Bezel & 22 Brass Inserts
Touch Digitizer - Contains Wacom W8004 & Panasonic MN101EF35D controller Ics - Wacom - SU5E-12W34AU-01X
SSD Mini PCIe Module - 64GB, mSATA - Sandisk - SDSA4DH-064G
- Battery Pack - Li-Ion Polymer, 4-Cell, 7.3V, 4660mAh, w/ Metal Enclosure, Integrated 8 Discrete Insulated Wires, 1 8-Position Pin Socket Connector, Black Mylar Insulators & White Mylar Labels - Simplo Technology - C22-EP121