• Pulling back the covers: Google Nexus 7
  • Last week, the announcement was finally made at Google’s I/O conference: Google would be introducing their first branded tablet, and to the surprise of many, it would feature a $199 USD price point. The Google Nexus 7, manufactured by ASUS, would be a direct competitor to the Kindle Fire.

    And like the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 would offer a tablet with comparable specifications to other tablets on the market, while also taking advantage of the rich library of applications that were available through Google’s Android Market. Featuring a 7-inch display, the Nexus 7 also features NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor while also sporting 1GB of internal RAM and the option of 8GB or 16GB of storage.

    A closer look inside

    Powering the Google Nexus 7 is NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor. Since the processor’s first design win inside the ASUS Transformer Prime, NVIDIA’s latest processor has been finding itself gathering socket wins. A quick search inside our IRIS database shows at least 5 design wins, including a major one with the new Microsoft Surface tablet. The Tegra 3 is a 1.3 GHz high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip and was the first mobile applications processor to incorporate four cores for the CPU and four cores for the GPU. The Tegra 3 features “Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing” (vSMP) that uses a single low power core for tasks requiring less power consumption.

    The diffusion layer image of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, where the four CPU cores are visible
    The diffusion layer image of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, where the four CPU cores are visible

    The Google Nexus 7 also features design wins from a gamut of semiconductor manufacturers. The usual suspects are evident in companies like Maxim providing the main power management IC with the MAX77612A and Texas Instruments with two design wins related to the power management as well. Hynix also scores the socket win for memory with their 2 Gb DDR3 SDRAM modules finding their place on the main board. A Kingston memory module (in this case 8GB in density) once decapped revealed the memory manufacturer as SanDisk/Toshiba. NXP also gains another design win for the PN65 NFC secure module. This device was also recently found in the Samsung Galaxy S3.

    Broadcom is also a notable design winner, as their BCM4330 802.11n with Bluetooth wireless transceiver and their BCM4751 integrated GPS receiver are both found within the Nexus 7. In the case of the BCM4330, it was located with an AzureWave AW-NH665 802.11n WiFi / Bluetooth / FM Radio module.

    Of note within the Nexus 7 tablet are the semiconductor manufacturers you’re not used to seeing in high-profile electronics. Amongst them were companies like ELAN Microelectronics, who provided controllers for the Nexus 7’s touchscreen. Notably, we’ve usually seen ELAN’s microcontrollers in handsets manufactured for the Chinese market so this is a major design win for the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer.

    Time will tell if the Google Nexus 7 achieves the market traction that Google hopes to gain at the expense of Apple, Amazon, and other tablet manufacturers. With the use of a high-end processor and a multitude of applications designed and optimized for their proprietary open-source operating system Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, in combination with a price point of $199 USD for the 8GB model, apparently makes for an easy purchase.

    Key Component Listing
    NVIDIA Tegra 3 – Quad-core mobile applications processor
    Hynix H5TC2G83CFR – 2Gb DDR3 SDRAM
    Kingston KE44B026BN/8GB – 8GB Memory Module
    Realtek (RMC) ALC5642 – Audio CODEC + Headphone Amplifier
    Maxim MAX77612A – Power Management IC
    Texas Instruments TPS63020 – Buck-Boost Converter
    Fairchild FDMC6675BZ – P-Channel Power MOSFET
    Texas Instruments SN75LVDS83B – LVDS Display SERDES
    ELAN Microelectronics eKTF3624BWS – Controller for Resistive Touchscreen
    ELAN Microelectronics eKTH1036BWS – Controller for the Resistive Touchscreen
    Broadcom BCM4751 – Integrated Monolithic GPS Receiver
    InvenSense MPU-6050 – Six-Axis (Gyro + Accelerometer) MEMS Device
    AzureWave AW-NH665 – 802.11n WiFi / Bluetooth / FM Radio module
    NXP Semiconductor PN65 – Secure NFC Module

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