Oh the humanity, iPad dissection! (UPDATED: Podcast)

Oh the humanity, iPad dissection! (UPDATED: Podcast)

Summary: RapidRepair.com dissects the iPad, exposing the secrets that lie within.

TOPICS: iPad, Mobility

Special Report: Apple iPad

RapidRepair.com dissects the iPad, exposing the secrets that lie within. Click to enlarge the image (photo credit RapidRepair.com)

Yup, our curious friends at RapidRepair are at it again, this time with a step-by step dis-assembly of the iPad.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

RapidRepair is taking very high resolution photos of the components, which will allow for a very detailed analysis of what makes the device tick.

The iPad's A4 System on a Chip (SoC) exposed.

All of the iPad's components have now been exposed, especially the very large Lithium-Ion batteries that were needed in order to provide the iPad with its boasted 10 hours of video viewing power per charge.

What I find immediately interesting about this dis-assembly by RapidRepair's Aaron Vronko (who I spoke with in a podcast, see above) is the sheer amount of space remaining in the casing that is showing under the LCD IPS display adjacent to the main logic board, which clearly indicates a lot of room for component expansion in future models with the same form factor. The actual main board appears to be very small.

The iPad main logic board. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Many components on the logic board appear to be similar to those used in the iPod Touch and the iPhone 3GS, with the same vendors used and even similar part numbers/generations for the integrated circuits used in previous products.

Complete field strip of the Generation 1 iPad. Click on the photo to enlarge.

According to Vronko, the main logic board appears to have a large number of Samsung-manufactured components, including the main memory which totals 256MB, the same amount as the iPhone 3GS. In comparison, the latest generation of smartphones, such as the Motorola DROID and the Google Nexus One come with 512MB of main memory.

[UPDATE 4/4: Vronko's observation about main memory in the iPad appears to be valid, as ifixit.com has apparently performed an X-Ray analysis of the A4 SoC to reveal two 1 Gb SDRAM chips, for 256 MB RAM or 2 dies * 1024 Megabits each / 8 bytes per bit = 256 MB]

[UPDATE 4/3: We've included a podcast interview with Aaron Vronko, the disassembler.]

Topics: iPad, Mobility


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Probably they needed to leave some room for a 3G daughtercard for 3G models

    That's my thought.
  • RE: Oh the humanity, iPad dissection!

    iFixit has x-rayed the A4 and found 2x256MB RAM modules
    in a triple layer with the CPU, graphics etc.

    512MB memory.
    • Nope. They retracted it.

      According to their current twitter:

      "Retraction time: We were wrong about the 512 MB RAM. Further analysis revealed that the chip has two 1 Gb SDRAM chips, for 256 MB RAM."

      "For those asking about the math: 2 dies * 1024 Megabits each / 8 bytes per bit = 256 MB"
  • The important question is

    did it still work once it was reassembled?
    • Why would it matter?

      The mileage for them was in the disassembly. Who cares if it worked after the fact; it's probably all chalked up to their "research" budget anyways.

      Besides, all that would show is how good their skills are at taking things apart and putting them back together. Feeling even an ounce of pity and horror over the demise of a inanimate consumer product, especially one that has zero use (so there's no user history--or data--to lose), is...well...pathetic.
      • Not that I feal any remorse

        I ask as I found anybody can take something apart, the trick is re-assembling it and having it work again.

        That takes a bit of skill.

    • Since the A4 chip was x-rayed

      I doubt seriously that the iPad could have worked if they tried to
      reassembly the components.

      Actually, the team at iFixit had the A4 chip x-rayed as reported by
      AppleInsider in order to discern how much internal system RAM is part of
      the chip's design.

      I don't know if RapidRepair did the same thing.
      • However

        iFixit and RapidRepir (eventually) both came out with the same number. I'm not sure how Vronko determined it, but iFixit said initially it was 512 until they actually looked more closely at their X-rays, which they are supposedly publishing next week.
        • Thank you, Jason, for that info.

          By the way .. two questions .. did you get your iPad yet?
          And, are you going to jail break it after the warranty expires?
      • Pacemakers undergo x-ray all the time

        In fact, they actually have identification so that if they are x-ray the manufacturer and model can be identified.

        If you control the exposure, ICs can be x-rayed.
      • RE: Oh the humanity, iPad dissection!

        It is usually exceptionally full of twists and turns to put in writing rather in addition
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  • Main Memory

    Main Memory is RAM? I thought the iPad had 2x256MB

    William, theamazingipad.com
    • Nope.

      Not according to iFixit's current X-Ray analysis, which admittedly they have yet to produce.
  • RE: Oh the humanity, iPad dissection!

    8 bytes per bit? Must be a "64 bit" machine :-)
    Should be 8 bits per byte for your calculation.
    I hear it has 512 nibbles though.