TechInsights had the opportunity to delve inside the latest handset from the Xperia family of Sony Ericsson phones – the Xperia Play. Where the Play differs from previous iterations of the Xperia family is the Xperia Play is the first smartphone to be “Playstation Certified”. What exactly does “Playstation Certified” mean? It essentially means that this Android-based smartphone is optimized for videogames with a focus on graphics, sound and a gaming controller found in a ‘slider’ implementation.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play – often referred to as the “Playstation Phone” – features 512 MB of RAM and 1GB of internal storage memory with a memory card slot that can expand the storage up to 32GB with the use of a MicroSD card. The Xperia Play operates on GSM/GPRS/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA networks and, at the time of this teardown, there is no CDMA version in the immediate future.
As we wait for the Xperia Play to make its way to the American market on May 26th, 2011, we were able to get our hands on a Canadian market model and our latest teardown exposes who Sony Ericsson turned to provide the major components that make it operate.
Upon opening the Xperia Play, the largest visible IC is an Elpida memory IC. The Elpida B4064B2PD-6D 2Gb Low-power (LP) DDR2 DRAM is found on a package-on-package orientation, which indicates that the baseband processor is located immediately underneath it. In this case, below the Elpida LPDDR2 is the heart of the Xperia Play, the Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor. This single-core ARM v7-based 1 GHz processor is manufactured at 45nm and is the first of three major IC wins for Qualcomm. Joining the MSM8255 is also the QTR8200 transceiver and the PM8058 power management IC. Other major design wins include Micron’s MT29F8G16ADBDAH4 8Gb (1GB) NAND Flash (for storage) and Broadcom’s BCM4329 Bluetooth, WiFi and FM radio IC.
Primary Component Listing:
The Qualcomm MSM8255 is a 45nm-based baseband/applications processor from the Snapdragon family of ICs. Based on the ARMv7, this single-core processor operates at 1 GHz. What makes this processor so interesting to us at the die-level is how the main die is IDENTICAL to the MSM7230. Comparing the images below show that the both dies feature the marking of ‘HG11-VN986’ with the key difference being that the MSM8255 is clocked to 1 GHz while the MSM7230 is clocked to 800 MHz.
On the left is the die photo of the MSM8255 with the die photo of the MSM7230 on the right. Notice the similarities in layout and design.
And now a closer look at the die images, notice the similarity in the die markings. MSM8255 on the left, MSM7230 on the right.
Taking a closer look inside the QTR8200 RF Tranceiver reveals some very interesting die images
Die photo of the Qualcomm QTR8200 (left) and die marking (right)
The internal storage of the Sony-Ericsson Xperia Play is provided by Micron’s NAND technology. We often don’t see Micron NAND in use in handsets as manufacturers such as Toshiba or Samsung get their fair share of design wins in this market. Of note is that this device is a single-level-cell (SLC) memory. SLC memory has advantages such as faster write speeds, lower power consumption and high cell endurance but these advantages come at a price, as SLC costs more per megabyte than the MLC offerings of Toshiba or Samsung. Sony Ericsson chose their memory on performance not cost.
Die marking on the left, die photo on the left.
An ongoing trend in the recent teardowns we’ve done on handsets and tablets is the use of Low-Power memory in a package-on-package(PoP) architecture with the baseband/applications processor. We’ve seen this used in the recent RIM Blackberry Playbook tablet, the Apple iPad 2, and now the Xperia Play follows this trend in packaging. In this case, Sony Ericsson uses Low-power DDR2 DRAM with the Qualcomm MSM8255 processor in a PoP.
Die marking on the left, die photo on the right