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Tuesday March 29, 2011 3:42 pm

Nintendo 3DS costs just $100 to make teardown reveals

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Handhelds, Video Games

Nintendo 3DS teardown

Nintendo 3DS teardowns from two research firms show that the Japanese gaming giant spent roughly $100 on raw materials and basic manufacturing for its 3D hand held gaming system; consumers must spend $250.

UBM TechInsights took apart the 3DS and estimated $101 worth of materials and manufacturing labor inside. The single biggest change was in the type of memory Nintendo used, it said.

According to Allan Yogasingam, technical marketing manager at UBM TechInsights, Nintendo embedded a proprietary Fujitsu memory chip called FC (Fast Cycle) RAM with 120MB worth of storage. That's an upgrade from previous DS devices in many ways, but as the recent earthquake shows, it bears its own supply chain risks.

FC RAM boasts DDR 3-like speeds, but consumes less power. It is also cheaper, easier to manufacture, and has a smaller footprint resembling lower-powered DDR. But despite performance improvements, the recent earthquake shows that opting for one supplier could be a "potentially dangerous move," Yogasingam said. An unexpected incident at the plant could delay production, for starters. Most consumer electronic makers will source a single component from a pool of suppliers.

"If they had used a low-powered memory it could be swapped out easily, but in this case no one else makes FC RAM," Yogasingam said. For now, most factories in Japan have denied production delays due to the earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11.

Nintendo stuck to Sharp to manufacture its proprietary ARM core processor, although it is unknown which company was contracted to develop the processors. California-based Atheros, recently acquired by Qualcomm, again handled Nintendo's Wi-Fi solution.

"Nintendo has always understood their client base- children -so they put a lot of emphasis on the case and design to handle more shock than the typical hand held," he said. "You can see this in the plastics used."

UBM Insights will publish a full teardown in a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, HS iSuppli's full teardown revealed $100.71 worth of raw materials and $2.54 worth of manufacturing fees for a grand total of $103.25, based on a 3DS it acquired during the Japanese launch last month.

iSuppli said in a statement that the single "most distinguishing" and expensive feature was its 3D display, believed to be manufactured by Sharp. The 3.5-inch, 3D top screen consists of an integrated, LCD-based parallax barrier panel stuck to the back of a color LCD. Altogether the 3DS display cost $33.80, or 34 percent of the total bill of materials.

Nintendo spent $8.36 on memory components, which iSuppli said includes a Samsung semiconductor as well as the Fujitsu FC RAM. This amount is more than double that spent on the Nintendo DSi two years ago.

You can pick up the Nintendo 3DS now at Amazon.

This article, written by Sara Yin, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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