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Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook teardown

Bill Detwiler cracks open the Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook in this TR Dojo teardown gallery.

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Topic: Hardware
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In December 2010, Google launched a pilot program to test and promote its Chrome OS. Through the program, the company sent specially designed Cr-48 Chrome notebooks to individuals who promised to "use it regularly and send us detailed feedback."
We got our hands on a Cr-48 notebook and couldn't wait to see the hardware inside. Follow along as we crack it open.
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The Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook comes in a brown, cardboard box. The top panel is covered with a drawing that's reminiscent of those commonly found in U.S. patent applications. The Cr-48's drawing seems to be for a mouse wheel with jet engines.
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What do they mean IF I cracked it open. Of course I'm going to crack it open, but perhaps this card isn't aimed at me.
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Beneath the Cr-48 Chrome notebook are the battery and power adapter.
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Google didn't include much documentation with the Cr-48 Chrome notebook.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook has a 12-inch LCD display, built-in webcam, and full-size keyboard.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook has a full-size keyboard, but with some notable exceptions. For example, there is not Caps Lock key. Instead, Google has included several webcentric keys, such as Forward, Back, and Reload.
A standard trackpad rounds out the machine's built-in input devices.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook forgoes the function keys found on most machines, in favor of several webcentric ones, such as previous browser history page, next browser history page, reload, full-screen mode, next tab/window, and search.
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I turned the Cr-48 chrome notebook on for just a few seconds before starting the dissection.
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The external case of the Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook is a rubberized plastic.
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According to various reports, Google has been internally testing Chrome OS on specially designed machines codenamed "Mario" or "Andretti"--after the famous Formula One driver Mario Andretti. Although Google is officially calling these machines the Cr-48 Chrome notebook, the Mario codename is located throughout the device. Cr-48 reportedly refers to a particularly unstable Chromium isotope.
Our test unit has the hardware ID: IEC MARIO PONY 6101
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook has no Google logos or branding.
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Along the left side of the Cr-48 Chrome notebook are a VGA port, cool fan grill, and speaker grill.
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Along the right side of the Cr-48 Chrome notebook are a speaker grill, SD card slot (shown with blank insert), 3.5mm headphone jack, USB port, and power jack.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook's battery has two of the unit's rubber feet attached to its outer edge.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook uses a 14.8V 58.4Whr battery.
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook comes with two years of free access to Verizon's 3G wireless network in the US. You'll get up to 100MB of data transfer each month and can purchase more without a contract.
Despite not needing a SIM card for Verizon's network, the Cr-48 Chrome notebook has one, and it's accessible from the battery compartment.
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Our first step in disassembling the Google's Cr-49 chrome notebook is removing the silver and black screws accessible through the battery compartment. Thankfully they are standard Phillips screw--no annoying tamper-resistant Torx or Tri-wing screws to deal with.
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There are three black screws visible in the Cr-48 Chrome notebook's battery compartment.
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There are seven silver screws visible in the Cr-48 Chrome notebook's battery compartment.
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One screw is also hidden under each of the rubber feet on the base of the Cr-48 Chrome notebook.
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With the screws removed, you can remove the Cr-48's bottom case panel. You'll need to use a plastic case opening tool, thin metal blade, or a very strong finger nail to pop the bottom panel's plastic tabs loose from the upper panel.
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Removing the bottom case panel pgives us our first look inside the Cr-48 Chrome notebook.
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At first glance, the inside of the Cr-48 reminds me of the 13-inch MacBook Air. The Cr-48 has a rectangular motherboard at the back near the lid hinges and an SSD instead of a traditional hard drive.
Let's look at the SSD first.
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Our Cr-48 Chrome notebook had a 16GB Sandisk SSD (SDSA4DH-016G), which was mounted in a spot that looks like it could have been used to house a traditional laptop hard drive. In contrast, the MacBook Air's SDD is attached directly to the motherboard.
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A single Phillips screw holds the SanDisk SSD in place.
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With the stickers removed from the SanDisk SSD, we get a better look at the drive's chips. The controller chip and an 8GB memory chip are located on the top of the SSD.
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A single memory ship is located on the bottom of the SanDisk SSD.
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This chip is the SanDisk SSD's controller. It has the following markings:
20-82-00253-2
S039-P3X398.00
SDC1
TAIWAN
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The SanDisk SDD in our Cr-48 Chrome notebook had two, 8GB memory chips with the following markings:
S04231212
SDTNNMBHSM-008G
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The Cr-48's RAM chip is covered with a small sheet of thin, flexible plastic. The sheet is held in place with adhesive, but should pull away with minimal effort.
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Releasing the two catches on the RAM socket should release the Cr-48's single memory module.
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Our Cr-48 machine contained a single Samsung 2GB 1Rx8 PC3-10600S memory module. Given that the Chrome notebook is designed to run application from the web, I can understand why Google would only include 2GB of RAM. Still, it would have been nice to see 4GB.
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As previously noted, the Cr-48 Chrome notebook comes with two years of free access to Verizon's 3G network in the US. This Qualcomm Gobi2000 card provides that access. According Qualcomm, the "Gobi2000 delivers multi-mode 3G mobile Internet access on either HSPA or CDMA2000 EV-DO networks."
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To remove the Qualcomm Gobi2000 wireless card, you'll need to disconnect the two antenna cables and remove a single Phillips screw.
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The chips on the Gobi2000 card are protected by EMI shields. We'll need to pop these shields offer to see the chips.
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On the underside of the Qualcomm Gobi2000 card is a large chip for the Qualcomm MDM2000 chipset.
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The next target in our teardown of the Cr-48 is the small PCB that contains the USB port and headphone jack.
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To remove the USB port and headphone jack PCB, we will need to disconnect the thin ribbon cable the connects it to the motherboard and remove three Phillips screws that hold it in place.
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One of the screws that hold the small USB/headphone PCB in place also helps hold the power port in place. I'll go ahead and remove the second power port screw to make removing the small PCB easier.
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With all the screws removed and the ribbon cable disconnected, you can lift the small PCB away from the Cr-48's case. I also removed the small metal bracket that covers the power port.
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Realtek RTS5138 USB controller
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Misc. chip with markings M414 G547G1
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The Cr-48 Chrome notebook has an Azurewave AW-NE773 Wi-Fi. It's located under the thin ribbon cable the connects the small USB/headphone PCN to the motherboard. To remove the card, you'll need to disconnect the two antenna cables and remove a single Phillips screw. Now is also a good time to remove the thin ribbon cable from the motherboard.
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The AW-NE773 IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless Mini PCI-Express Module is likely the latest version Azzurewave AW-NE770 module.
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With the EMI shields removed, we can see a few of the chips on the AW-NE773 module. From their markings, all the chips appear to have been manufactured by Atmel.
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Next we'll remove the Cr-48's two speakers and connecting wires.
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Each speaker is held in place by two Phllips screws.
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The Y-shaped speaker wire assembly connected to the Cr-48's motherboard via a single connector. You'll need to disconnect the wires before removing the speakers.
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The Cr-48's bluetooth transceiver is attached to the front of the case and connected to the motherboard by a silver cable.
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The small PCB that contains the Bluetooth transceiver simply clips onto the front of the Cr-48's case.
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"Mario" crops up again on a small label attached to the Cr-48's Bluetooth cable.
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The EMI shield on the small Bluetooth PCB is soldered in place. I won't be removing this one.
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Several Phillips screws hold the motherboard to the case. You'll need to remove these screws before lifting the motherboard away from the Cr-48.
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You'll also need to detach any cables that remain connected to the Cr-48's motherboard. Here are the connectors from the SSD and the touchpad.
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Under these pieces of black tape are connectors for the cooling fan and one of the display cables. You'll need to disconnect both. Be very careful when disconnecting the display cable. It has several very thin blue wires that could easily break.
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The keyboard's ribbon cable is connected to the underside of the Cr-48's motherboard.
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With all the cables disconnected and screws removed, you can lift the Cr-48 Chrome notebook's motherboard away from the case.
We'll take a closer look at the motherboard in a bit. For now, let's continue disassembling the case.
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The cooling fan is held to the case with two Phillis screws.
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A thin metal frame is attached to the front (lower in this photo) edge of the Cr-48. It covers the back of the touchpad and also holds the touchpad and SSD cables. It is held to the case with nine Phillips screws.
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As the SSD ribbon cable is glued to the metal frame, you'll also need to remove the two screws which hold the SSD connector to the plastic case.
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With the metal frame removed, we can turn our attention to the CR-48's keyboard.
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The keyboard is held in place with several Phillips screws. Three are located at the top of the keyboard near the Cr-48 lid's hinge and two are located on either side.
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You'll also need to remove the black tape that holds the Wi-Fi and 3G antennas to the underside of the keyboard. You can leave the power port connected if you like.
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You'll also need to remove the Cr-48's lid hinge screws before removing the keyboard.
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As noted, I left the power port and cable connected to the bottom of the keyboard.
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With the keyboard removed, we can move on to the Cr-48's lid and display.
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You'll need to remove two small rubber cable holders (one on each side) before removing the lid/display. With the holders removed and the hinges bent back, you should be able to lift the Cr-48's upper case panel away from the lid/display assembly.
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A metal plate covers most of the back of the Cr-48's touchpad. Both the plate and touchpad are held to the case top panel with plastic rivets. It looks like replacing the touchpad requires a whole new case top panel.
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Now, let's look at the lid and display assembly.
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Our first step in cracking open the Cr-48's lid is removing the plastic piece that covers the hinge screws. It's held in place with plastic tabs. You should be able to pop it loose from the lid using a case opening tool, thin metal blade, or your finger nail (if they're strong enough).
With the hinge cover removed, you can also remove the Phillips screws that hold the hinges to the lid.
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Using a thin metal blade, I was able to pop loose the plastic bezel that surround the display screen. Unfortunately, I damaged a few of the plastic clips that
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With the Cr-48 Chrome notebook's front bezel removed, we can see the display mounting, antenna wires, and webcam assembly.
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These two solder points connect with a small magnet mounted in the front bezel. The appear to be for one of the Cr-48's antenna wires.
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Now that we've finished disassembling the Cr-48's case and lid, let's turn our attention back to the motherboard.
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The Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook uses the Intel NM10 Express chipset, that consists of an Atom N455 CPU and a southbridge chip (shown here).
The Intel CG82NM10 southbridge chip handles support for things like the SSD and external ports.
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Texas Instruments (BQ24740) Multi-Cell Synchronous Switch-mode Battery Charger
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Winbond W25Q32BV (4MB) Serial Flash memory
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Winbond W25X10BV (1MB) Serial Flash memory
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Fairchild Semiconductor (FDS6690AS) 30V N-Channel PowerTrench SyncFET
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This Texas Instruments chip is likely another linear voltage regulator.
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Now let's look a the chips on the underside of the Cr-48's motherboard.
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Realtek ALC272 High Definition Audio Codec
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Texas Instruments chips with markings:
AKS TI 9CW ZH10
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Integrated Device Technology 9LRS3165 PC clock
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This ITE Tech. IT8500E 1018-BXA DCDM0B L chip is likely and earlier version of the company's IT8510E embedded controller.
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Infineon SLB 9635 TT 1.2 Trusted Mobile Platform (TPM) Security Chip
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Instead of thermal paste, the Cr-48's CPU is covered with a phase change thermal pad. These are increasingly common in both laptops and mobile devices. Let's remove the pad for a better look at the CPU.
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The Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook has a 1.66GHz Intel Atom processor N455 (with 512K Cache). This chip is similar to the Intel Atom D510 found in the ZOTAC ZBOX mini-PC we cracked open in October. But, the D510 has two cores and a 1MB cache.
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As notebooks go, the Google Cr-48 Chrome notebook was pretty easy to disassemble. Inventec, the manufacturer, used plain Phillips screws and none of the internal components were soldered to the motherboard. Given the many standard internal parts (Qualcomm Gobi card, Azurewave Wi-Fi card, SanDisk SSD, Samsung RAM, etc.), you could easily repair upgrade the Cr-48's hardware--provided the Chrome OS could handle it. Stay tuned for Jason Hiner's complete review of the Cr-48.
Photo by: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic
Caption by: Bill Detwiler

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