Consumer Peripherals

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console Teardown

24 February 2009
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The Nintendo DSi is the latest hand-held gaming console from Nintendo and is an evolutionary step past the Nintendo DS Lite, also recently analyzed by iSuppli. The DSi, only available in Japan at the time of writing (December 2008), has a few new features including slightly larger screens, dual VGA camera modules, and upgraded WiFi connectivity - 802.11b/g (note the Nintendo DS Lite features only 802.11b). The DSi is apparently a little thinner than the preceding Nintendo DS console as well.

Internally too, the DSi is a whole new design with mostly changed silicon choices including the core applications processor.

Designed for a more interactive casual gaming experience, the DSi 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 DSi dual player capabilities as well as internet connectivity - further enhancing the gaming experience. The battery capacity is lower than on the Lite, but it is also assumed that this is because the DSi features a more energy-efficient design thus reducing the power requirements overall.

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console Main ImageNintendo DSi 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.


First release in the Japanese market November, 2008. US (and subsequent global) releases planned for 2009.

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Main PCB TopNintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Main PCB Top

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - The Nintendo DS Lite retails for 18,900 at time of writing (Dec, 2008). This price point is (in Japanese Yen, at least) approximately $50 more than the latest Nintendo DS Lite which was priced at $129.99 at the time of our recent Oct, 2008 analysis.

Availability - Japan (Q4 2008), North America and Europe planned for Spring 2009.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime (2-3 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.

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Main PCB BottomNintendo DSi 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.

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

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console Cost AnalysisNintendo DSi Handheld Game Console Cost Analysis

Cost Notes

Top Cost Drivers (Representing ~65% of Total Materials Costs)

LS033A1DB48R - Sharp - Display Module Value Line Item - 3.25' Diagonal, 262K Color TFT LCD, 256 x 192 Pixels, w/ Touchscreen (Qty: 2)

Sharp - Application Processor - ARM-Core

DWM-W015 - Mitsumi - WLAN Module Value Line Item - 802.11b/g

Camera Module Value Line Item - VGA CMOS, 1/11' Format, Fixed Lens (Qty:2)

2-Layer - Flex Kapton, w/ Stiffener (Qty:4)

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

KMAPF0000M-S998 - Samsung Semiconductor - Flash - MoviNAND, 2Gb, MLC

AC Adapter - 4.6V, 900mA

Battery - Li-Ion, 3.7V, 840mAh

Materials and Manufacturing $78.12

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 DS Lite, and is assumed to be the service provider for the DSi build as well.

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.

Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Enclosure DisassemblyNintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Enclosure Disassembly

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

The Nintendo DSi is more complex than the previous DS lite, and as a result features a more elevated component count across the board (a natural consequence of adding new features). The Main PCB on the DSi has about 271 components (vs 210 components on the DS Lite Main PCB) on it. The total DSi console component count is 602 (vs. 410 for a comparable count in the DS Lite). This represents a significant addition of discrete components.

There is some design complexity that is inherent mechanically (and electro-mechanically) to the DSi design which 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 the same source as the one in the DS Lite: Sharp (but die markings do not confirm this).

Other major features of the design, include of course, the dual 3.25 inch displays (up from dual 3" on the DS Lite) and the main touchscreen overlay - which together represent the 20% of the cost of the DS. Furthermore, from a chip perspective, the DS also features 802.11b/g WLAN connectivity which is provided by a Mitsumi 802.11b/g modular solution which is driven by the Mitsumi MM3218 Single-Chip, 802.11b solution (same as DS LIte) AND the Atheros AR6002G-AC1B 802.11g.

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

Main PCB


  • Application Processor - Sharp - ARM-Core


  • Flash - Samsung Semiconductor - KMAPF0000M-S998 - MoviNAND, 2Gb, MLC
  • Mobile FCRAM - Fujitsu - M82DBS08164D-70L - 128Mb (8Mx16), 1.8V, 70ns

Power Management

  • Texas Instruments - SN72071B0 - Power Management & Charger IC

I/O & Interface

  • Amplifier - Texas Instruments - THS4141IDGN - Differential, High Speed
  • Audio Codec - Texas Instruments - Stereo

WLAN Module

WLAN - Mitsumi - DWM-W015


  • Mitsumi - MM3218 - WLAN - Single-Chip, 802.11b
  • Atheros - AR6002G-AC1B - WLAN - Single-Chip, 802.11g


  • LCD Display Units - 3.25' Diagonal, 262K Color TFT LCD, 256 x 192 Pixels (Quantity 2)


Nintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Box ContentsNintendo DSi Handheld Game Console - Box Contents

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