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TI, Qualcomm, Sony and Samsung Leading Suppliers for Palm Pre
Thursday, June 11, 2009 | iSuppli

Amped DRAM

In one surprise, the Pre includes a relatively large quantity of SDRAM: 2Gbits in two 1Gbit dies. Most smart phones and PDAs torn down by iSuppli, including the iPhone 3G, incorporate only 1Gbit or less of SDRAM. This DRAM is mounted directly on top of the applications processor using a package-on-package enclosure.

Elpida was identified as the supplier of this SDRAM in the specific Pre torn down by iSuppli. Interestingly, although Elpida is the world's No.-2 supplier of mobile DRAM, iSuppli in its teardowns rarely sees the company's parts outside of integrated Multi-Chip Package (MCP) memory solutions.

The larger quantity of memory likely is needed as a buffer to support the Pre's capability to multi-task various applications, a key allure of the Pre's webOS operating system relative to that of the iPhone and competing smart phones.

Qualcomm at the Core

The Qualcomm MSM6801A baseband processor is the key wireless semiconductor portion of the Pre, providing the essential communications functions for the smart phone, supporting the CDMA2000 1X and CDMA2000 1X Rev A EV-DO air standards. Together with Qualcomm's two Radio Frequency (RF) support chips, the RFR6500 receiver and RFT6150 transmitter, the company provides $18.45 worth of semiconductor content to Pre.

Surprisingly, Palm did not employ Qualcomm's PM6650 chip, which performs the power management function in almost all Qualcomm-based designs. Instead, that function is supported by Maxim's MAX8695 power management integrated circuit, a design choice also seen in the LG Voyager VX10000.

Other notable aspects of the Pre's design include:

A basic digital camera, based on a 3-megapixel CMOS sensor and using a fixed lens, rather than employing auto-focus optics.

A Murata WLAN/Bluetooth module, which is ostensibly the same as the one found in the iPhone 3G. This Murata module features a Marvell W8686B12 and a CSR BlueCore 6 solution.

A novel approach to detecting when the device slides out, by using an Osram optical sensor. Typically, sliding devices use a conventional magnet with a hall-effect sensor combination to achieve this function. This may be due to the optional inductive charging stand, which also uses a magnet to hold the Pre to its base-a move that might confuse the conventional hall-effect sensing arrangement.

The use of proximity sensing to detect closeness to the user's face to actively dim the screen and to conserve energy.

Samsung eMMC

In another interesting design choice, the Pre makes use of 8GBytes of Samsung's eMMC MoviNAND flash memory, rather than regular Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND commonly found in mobile phones. eMMC is a premium variety of NAND flash memory that combines high-density MLC NAND flash with a memory management controller to deliver higher performance and easier integration into electronic designs.

This win gives Samsung $17 worth of content in the individual Pre torn down by iSuppli. Palm potentially will use other suppliers as well for this memory requirement, including the competitive eMMC NAND flash solutions offered by Micron, Hynix and SanDisk.

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