Consumer Peripherals

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console Teardown

04 December 2008
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Nintendo DS Lite is a hand-held gaming console developed as the follow up to the original Nintendo DS portable gaming console. The slim device dual screen displays gaming device continues with original design philosophy by incorporating touch inputs (via a stylus), WiFi connectivity as well as maintaining backward compatibility to the legacy Game Boy Advance gaming platform.

Designed for a more interactive casual gaming experience, the DS Lite offers touch screen technology which allows user control capabilities beyond that of traditional D-Pad gaming experience. Also, the inclusion of WiFi wireless communication gives the DS Lite dual player capabilities as well as internet connectivity - further enhancing the gaming experience. A high capacity 1000mAh battery gives DS Lite users 4 to 5 hours of usable game play.

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console Main ImageNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console Main Image

Target Market

Young casual gamers [in their early to late teens] have traditionally been the target market. However, recently Nintendo has started making in-roads to the more mature and mainstream consumer demographic.


Per press releases, first release in the Japanese market on March 2nd, 2006. US (and subsequent global) release on June of 2006.

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Main PCB TopNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Main PCB Top

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The Nintendo DS Lite retails for $129.99 at time of writing (Oct. 17, 2008). This price point is approximately $20 less than the original Nintendo DS (released in 2004).

Availability - Global availability

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime (6 years) production volume of 86.5M 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 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.

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Main PCB BottomNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Main PCB Bottom

Market / Sector Performance

According to iSuppli research, the portable gaming device market shipped nearly 43M units in 2007. Within the realm of portable gaming consoles, there exist only 2 major brands: Sony with their PSP platform and Nintendo with Game Boy and the DS systems. iSuppli expects this market to continue to grow at a rate of 16% in 2008.

In many ways, both Sony and Nintendo 'co-exist' in this space as the PSP and Nintendo devices target 2 very different segments of the market. Nintendo's strategy has been to create both game play and devices which appeal more to the general or casual gamer while Sony's PSP was designed more as a graphical Tour de Force attracting more 'hard-core' gamers to more visually appealing gaming experiences. Of course, by most metrics, the success of a specific gaming platform is the number of available gaming titles made for the device. In that context, the Nintendo system is by far, more successful.

Recently, Nintendo has announced the 3rd variant of the DS platform called the "DSi. The new portable gaming console will feature slightly larger dual displays as well as inclusion of dual integrated cameras. The DSi will likely be released in 2009 which will give the DS Lite just one more additional year of sales.

A detailed Topical Report on this subject will be published by iSuppli in Q1 2009.

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console Cost AnalysisNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Top Cost Drivers (Representing ~ 75% of Total Materials Costs)

Display Module Value Line Item - 3.0' Diagonal, 262K Color TFT, 192 x 256 Pixels (Qty:2)

Sharp - Application Processor - Dual RISC Core, 33MHz ARM7 / 66MHz ARM9

Battery - Li-Ion, 3.7V, 1000mAh

Mitsumi - DWM-W006 - WLAN Module Value Line Item - 802.11b

Touchscreen Overlay - 4-Wire Resistive, w/ Flex PCB

AC Adapter - Input 120V, 60Hz, 4W, Output 5.2V, 450mA, w/ Plastic Bag

Mitsumi - Audio Codec/Power Management

Loudspeaker - In Plastic Housing, w/ Integral Discrete 2-Wire (Qty:2)

6-Layer - FR4

Enclosure, Lower, Bottom - Injection Molded ABS, ABS Polycarbonate, Silkscreened

Materials and Manufacturing $52.48

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.

Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Enclosure DisassemblyNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Enclosure Disassembly

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

According to iSuppli EMS/ODM analysts, Nintendo utilizes Foxconn as the primary EMS provider for the DS Lite.

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 display modules), 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

The Nintendo DS is simple and well integrated from an electronic design perspective and does not have a very elevated component count - as a result, the main PCB only has about 210 components on it. The only inherent added mechanical and manufacturing complexity comes from the fact that the device is a hinged case and has two displays (one of which is touch). Though this certainly makes the handheld console more mechanically complex and with longer manufacturing cycle times than a simple, single screen console with no moving parts, the DS is still a relatively simple device with a modest component count and complexity overall.

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

The Nintendo DS Lite is one of the highest production volume products we have ever looked at. For such devices, one would expect custom integrated silicon solutions that provide maximum simplicity and integration at lowest possible cost for the consumer segment - and that appears to be the case here with core processing being custom from sources unknown - even the die markings obfuscate the real source of the processor which believe to be from Sharp (but die markings do not confirm this). Other major features of the design, include of course, the dual 3 inch displays and touchscreen overlays - which together represent the 20% of the cost of the DS. Furthermore, from a chip perspective, the DS also features 802.11b basic WLAN connectivity which is provided by a Mitsumi 802.11 modular solution which is driven by the Mitsumi MM3218 Single-Chip, 802.11b solution.

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

Main PCB


  • Application Processor - Sharp - Dual RISC Core, 33MHz ARM7 / 66MHz ARM9


  • FCRAM - Fujitsu - MB82DBS02163E-70L

Audio / Power Management

  • Mitsumi - Possibly MM3107 per die markings

I/O & Interface

  • Touch Screen Controller - AKM Semiconductor - AK4181AVT

WLAN Module

Display (1 features touchscreen overlay)

  • Mitsumi (DWM-W006)
    • Featuring WLAN - Mitsumi - MM3218 Core Silicon
    • LCD Display Unit - 262K Color TFT, 243um x 243um Pixel Size, 192 x 256 Pixels, 46.7mm x 62.2mm Viewable Area (Quantity 2)
  • "
    Nintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Box ContentsNintendo DS Lite Handheld Game Console - Box Contents

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