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Cracking Open the Amazon Kindle

With its paper-like display, wireless capability and thousands of titles from Amazon's catalog behind it, the Kindle may be the first e-book reader to gain broad acceptance. Watch as we crack open the Kindle's case and examine the circuitry inside.
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1 of 52 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet
With its paper-like display, wireless capability and thousands of titles from Amazon's catalog behind it, the Kindle may be the first e-book reader to gain broad acceptance. Watch as we crack open the Kindle's case and examine the circuitry inside.
You can click each photo for a full-size version.
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The Kindle's front cover contains the screen, navigation bar display, QWERTY keypad, page-navigation buttons, and scroll wheel. The Kindle uses a 6-inch diagonal E-Ink electronic paper display, that offers 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi and a 4-level gray scale.
The Kindle is 7.5 inches tall, 5.3 inches wide, and 0.7 inches thick. The device weighs 10.3 ounces.
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The headphone jack, mini-USB port, AC power connector, and volume controls are located on the Kindle's bottom.
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On the Kindle's back panel, you'll find the power on/off switch, wireless on/off switch, speaker holes, and removable back cover.
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Sliding off the Kindle's removable back cover, you'll find the SD card slot, battery, and eight Phillips 000 screws. You must remove these screws before detaching the case's back panel.
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The Kindle uses a 3.7V 1530mAh Lithium Polymer battery, with model number A00100. As of this writing, you can buy a Kindle replacement battery from Amazon for $19.95.
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The battery's serial number (blacked out) and part number (P/N: 170-1001-00 rev E) are printed on the underside.
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With the case screws removed, you can now pop open the Kindle's case. Hold the Kindle upright (as shown in this photo), insert a thin plastic tool (or your fingernail) into the grove between the case's front and back halves, and gently push straight down. Slide the tool or your fingernail around the Kindle's case. As you move around the case, the plastic catches should pop loose. Take care not to crack the Kindle's plastic case.
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Some suggest that you remove this small knockout box before you remove the case's back panel. I found no reason to remove this box during the the cracking open or reassembly process.
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With the case's back panel removed, we get our first look inside the Kindle. Most of the Kindle's circuitry is located on the main PCB.
The SD card reader, speaker, power and wireless on/off switches, cellular card and antennas, and scroll wheel are clearly visible. I believe the thin, contoured metal plate covering most of the Kindle's chips is an EMI shield.
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To detach the Kindle's main PCB, you'll need to remove nine Phillips 000 screws. Eight screws are visible once you remove the case's back panel. The ninth screw is hidden under the SD card reader, which you'll need to remove to access the screw.
The Kindle also has six ribbon cables on the main PCB that you must disconnect before lifting the PCB away from the case. In addition to the ribbon cables, you must disconnect two antenna cables, the battery cable (which you already disconnected), and the speaker cable.
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Lifting up what I believe to be the metal EMI shield, you'll find the ribbon cable connector for the Kindle's SD card reader.
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To remove the Kindle's SD card reader, you'll need to disconnect this ribbon cable from the connector on the mail PCB.
These tiny connectors are my least favorite part of the cracking open process. They are easily broken, and nearly impossible to fix when damaged.
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Gently lift the connector's gate all the way up and pull the cable free.
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With the Kindle's SD card reader removed, the ninth screw on the main PCB is visible. You'll need to remove this screw.
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The Kindle uses Amazon's trademarked Whispernet service to wirelessly download material. Whispernet uses Sprint's EVDO data network. The Kindle appears to have two cellular antennas--a dipole 26.5mm antenna (shown here) and an antenna built into the keypad PCB.
Before lifting the main PCB away from the Kindle's case, you need to disconnect the antenna wires from each antenna. On this antenna, the connector is on the underside and difficult to disconnect without first removing the antenna from the case.
The antenna is held to the case with small amount of adhesive. Gently pry the antenna away from the case, taking care not to break it. With the antenna free from the case, you can disconnect the wire.
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This flat metal spring, provides tension for the PREV PAGE button on the Kindle's left side. It is held in place by one of the Phillips 000 screws you removed earlier. As the gray antenna wire runs under this spring, you'll need to remove it before lifting the main PCB away from the case.
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Next, remove disconnect the red and white wire that runs to the Kindle's speaker and the second wireless antenna wire (black).
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Lifting up the metal EMI shield near the Kindle's white scroll wheel reveals ribbon cable connectors for the keypad (gray cable) and scroll wheel (translucent, brown cable). Gently open the gate on each connector and pull the cables free.
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This ribbon cable connector for the Kindle's E-Ink display is the worst of the bunch. The flimsy plastic gate is easily broken and the cable must be inserted, not just placed, in the connector.
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From this angle, you can see the correct placement of the Kindle's E-Ink display ribbon cable within the main PCB connector. The connector's gate is fully open. When reassembling the Kindle, make sure you insert the ribbon cable until the white line is even with the connector's front edge. You will have to apply slight pressure to fully insert the cable.
When I first reassembled the Kindle, this cable was not fully inserted and the display did not function. I had to open the Kindle a second time and reinsert the cable.
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With all the screws removed, the SD card reader removed, and the cables disconnected, you can lift the the Kindle's main PCB away from the case.
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With the main PCB removed, the back of the E-Ink display and the gray plastic support structure are visible.
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The Kindle accesses Sprint's EVDO data network via the ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">AnyData DTEV-Dual 3G CDMA EVDO Module. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">AnyData documentation, the DTEV-Dual provides a wireless data connection up to 2.4 Mbps and supports both CDMA 800MHZ and 1900MHz. The DTEV-Dual also voice, a 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3, color LCD, SD slot, and USB host or slave mode.
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I believe this thin metal plate is an EMI shield used to protect the Kindle's digital circuitry from any electromagnetic interference. At this point, the EMI shield is held held on with tape and is easily removed.
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Removing the EMI shield gives us a clear view of the Kindle's main chips.
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The Kindle's main processor is a ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Marvell PXA255 application processor, with the following markings: LUPXA255A0 G7171929.2 0744 KR C400. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Wikipedia, Intel released the PXA210 and PXA25x family (PXA250 and PXA255) of XScale processors in 2002 as a replacement for its StrongARM line of processors.
XScale microprocessors are fifth generation ARM processors based on ARMv5TE architecture. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Intel's PXA255 datasheet on Alldatasheet.com, the PSA255 supports a flexible CPU clock speed from 100 to 400 MHz. I assume the "C400" marking on the Kindle's chip indicates this is a 400 MHz version.
In some Kindles, these chips have an Intel logo. Intel sold the PXA processor assets to Marvell in 2006.
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The chip centered in this photo is the ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">NXP ISP1761 Hi-Speed Universal Serial Bus On-The-Go controller, with the following markings: ISP1761BE SH6065.1 03 ZSD0810B. According to NXP documentation, "the ISP1761 is a single-chip Hi-Speed Universal Serial Bus (USB) On-The-Go (OTG) Controller integrated with advanced NXP slave host controller and the NXP ISP1582 peripheral controller." The ISP1761 is available in two configurations--the ISP1761BE (used in the Kindle) and the ISP1761ET. the ISP1761BE (Package name: LQFP128) has a "plastic low profile quad flat package; 128 leads; body 14x20x1.4 mm."
In some Kindles, these chips have a Phillips logo. NXP was created in 2006 when ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Phillips separated its semiconductor division into a separate company.
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The Kindle has two ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Qimonda HY[B/E]25L256160AF 256-MBit Mobile-RAM chips, with the following markings: 0746 A HYB25L256160AF - 7.5 SVV14313.
In some Kindles, these chips have an Infineon Technologies logo. Qimonda was spun out of Infineon in 2006.
According a HY[B/E]25L256160AF datasheet on Alldatasheet.com, the "256MBit Mobile-RAM is a new generation of low power, four bank synchronous DRAM organized as4 banks x 4 Mbit x 16 with additional features for mobile applications."
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The Kindle's E-Ink electronic paper display is supplied by ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Prime View International (PVI). The PVI chip shown in this photo (with markings: PVI-6001A F07310104 JAPAN) is the display controller. As I noted earlier, the Kindle's screen offers 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi and a 4-level gray scale.
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Although someone has almost completely obscured this Spansion chip's markings with a dark marker, I believe it is an S29AL004D 4 Megabit CMOS 3.0 Volt-only Boot Sector Flash Memory chip. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Spansion documentation, "the S29AL004D is a 4 Mbit, 3.0 volt-only Flash memory organized as 524,288 bytes or 262,144 words. The device is offered in 48-ball FBGA, 44-pin SO, and 48-pin TSOP packages."
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The Kindle contains two Elite Semiconductor Memory Technology (ESMT) M24L416256SA 4-Mbit Pseudo Static RAM (PSRAM), with the following markings: M24L416256SA LXB1 -70BE P72WZ20 801. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">ESMT documentation:
"The M24L416256SA is a high-performance CMOS Pseudo static RAM organized as 256K words by 16 bits that supports an asynchronous memory interface. This device features advanced circuit design to provide ultra-low active current. This is ideal for portable applications such as cellular telephones."
In some Kindles, these chips may be provided by Samsung and have the following markings: SEC 628 AF70 K6F4016U6G TKGD87PEC.
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Just above the Kindle's headphone, mini-USB, and power jacks, you'll find a Wolfson Microelectronics WM8971 stereo, audio codec chip, with the following markings: WM8971G 78AV7N7. According to Wolfson documentation, "the WM8971L [which seems to have replaced the WM8971G] is a low power, high quality stereo codec designed for portable digital audio applications." Wolfson's site advises against using this chip for new designs and recommends the WM8750 as an alternative.
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From this chip's logo, I believe it was manufactured by ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Microchip Technology. Unfortunately, I've been unable to identify the specific chip, despite having searched ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Microchip's extensive list of chip datasheets. As with the Spansion S29AL004D, someone has written accross this chip with a dark marker obsuring the markings. If are able to indentify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
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A cluster of chips are located on the bottom of the Kindle's main PCB.
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Outlined in red, this chip is an NXP temperatrue sensor, with the following markings: LM75A A2 01 a6749. According to NXP documentation, "the LM75A is a temperature-to-digital converter using an on-chip band gap temperature sensor and Sigma-delta A-to-D conversion technique."
In some Kindles, this chip will have a Phillips logo. NXP was created in 2006 when ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Phillips separated its semiconductor divison into a separate company.
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Outlined in red, the Samsung 2GB OneNAND flash memory module is the largest chip on the underside of the main PCB and has the following markings: 810 KFG2G16Q2M-DEB8 VPL339A1. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Samsung documentation, "OneNAND is a highly integrated non-volatile memory solution based around a NAND Flash memory array."
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Outlined in red, this chips are Analog Devices ADG3247 digital switches for CMOS and has the following markings: ADG3247 BRUZ [pound sign] 0803 1356111.1. According to """="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Analog Devices documentation:
"The ADG3247 is a 2.5 V or 3.3 V 16 Bit (Dual 8 Bit), 2 port digital switch. It is designed on our low voltage CMOS process which provides low power dissipation yet gives high switching speed and very low on resistance allowing inputs to be connected to the outputs without additional propagation delay or generating additional ground bounce noise."
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From this chip's logo, I believe it was manufactured by ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Texas Instruments. It has the following markings: 83A1T0J G1 WJ245. Unfortunately, I've been unable to identify the specific chip, despite having searched ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">TI's extensive chip database.
If you are able to identify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
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From this chip's logo, I believe it was manufactured by ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">Analog Devices . It has the following markings: ADG33 D4BRU. Unfortunately, I've been unable to identify the specific chip, despite having searched Analog Devices' extensive chip database.
If you are able to identify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
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I'm not 100 percent certain about this chip's manufacturer or purpose. From the markings (LCX 125 F806), it appears to be an STMicroelectronics low voltage CMOS quad bus buffer (package TSSOP14). According to STMicroelectronics' documentation, "the 74LCX125 is a low voltage CMOS quad bus buffer fabricated with sub-micron silicon gate and double-layer metal wiring C2MOS technology. It is ideal for low power and high speed 3.3V applications; it can be interfaced to 5V signal environment for both inputs and outputs."
If you are able to positively identify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
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I'm not 100 percent certain about this chip's manufacturer or purpose. From the markings (LVC32A 7E9Y104 Un608 02F), it appears to be Texas Instruments SN74LVC32A Quadruple 2-Input Postive-OR Gate. According to ""="" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">TI documentation, "the SN54LVC32A quadruple 2-input positive-OR gate is designed for 2.7-V to 3.6-V VCC operation, and the SN74LVC32A quadruple 2-input positive-OR gate is designed for 1.65-V to 3.6-V VCC operation." If you are able to positively indentify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
If you are able to positively indentify this chip, post a comment in this gallery's discussion.
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Overall, the Amazon Kindle was surprisingly easy to crack open. The process required no special tools and took about 30 minutes. The tiny ribbon cables and connectors were the most difficult part.
Except for the E-Ink ribbon cable, which gave me a little trouble, reassembling the Kindle was equally straightforward. When pt back together, our Kindle worked perfectly. I'll post a review of my experience with the Kindle in the IT Dojo blog.
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