Dissected iPad Reveals Samsung, Qualcomm Parts

on March 15 2012 10:49 PM

(Reuters) - Apple's new iPad uses chips made by Qualcomm, Broadcom, Samsung Electronics and other semiconductor makers, according to a firm that cracked open one of the devices.

The newest iPad went on sale in Australia early on Friday, and at the front of a line of fans hoping to get hold of the 4G-ready tablet computer was a tinkerer from California gadget-repair firm iFixit, who quickly took one apart for a Web blog.

Supplying parts for Apple's iPhones and iPads, the industry's gold standards, is considered a coup for chipmakers and other manufacturers.

The iPad includes a Qualcomm LTE cellphone chip as well as a Qualcomm wireless modem for 3G and 4G. Broadcom supplies a semiconductor handling wireless tasks like WiFi and Bluetooth, according to iFixit.

Fueled by cans of carbonated caffeine drinks, iFixit cofounder Luke Soules' before-dawn teardown at a Melbourne computer shop found that Apple suppliers Qualcomm, Broadcom and Samsung have maintained their key roles in the newest iPad.

The iPad's new A5X application processor, with improved graphics horsepower, is based on energy-efficient technology licensed from Britain's ARM Holding and is manufactured by Qualcomm, as in past Apple devices.

Apple doesn't disclose which company makes the components that go into its smartphones, and insists its suppliers keep quiet.

Analysts recommend caution in drawing conclusions from the teardowns because Cupertino, California-based Apple sometimes uses more than one supplier for a part. What is found in one iPad may not be found in others.

Still, teardowns remain a key source of information for investors interested in betting on Apple's suppliers, and the appearance of unexpected chips can move stocks.

There are a whole lot of hedge funds out there that like to shoot first and ask questions later, said Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP who covers technology stocks.

The third-generation iPad from Apple - which sports a high-definition retina display and comes with a better camera - is capable of operating on high-speed 4G LTE.

A source familiar with the device's components told Reuters this week that Samsung and LG Electronics will both supply their liquid crystal displays for the iPad.

iFixit said the iPad's display, removed using two bright orange suction cups, appears to be from Samsung.

A NAND flash memory chip, used to store media like music and video, is supplied by Toshiba. Japan's Elpida provides the DRAM chips.

The iPad teardown also revealed chips from Avago Technologies, Triquint Semiconductor and Fairchild.

One of the more widely followed teardown firms, iFixit is hired by a variety of clients who use its data for competitive intelligence, in patent disputes or to keep current on industry benchmarks.

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