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New 3DS Teardown Corroborates $100 Bill Of Materials Report
New 3DS Teardown Corroborates $100 Bill Of Materials Report
March 29, 2011 | By Kris Graft

A recent teardown of the Nintendo 3DS has corroborated earlier reports that the bill of materials for the new handheld amounts to just over $100.

Supply chain research firm IHS iSuppli found in a preliminary estimate that the total bill of materials adds up to $100.71. Including a $2.54 per unit manufacturing cost, the total cost to produce the handheld comes to $103.25, compared to a U.S. MSRP of $250.

The new bill of materials estimate, released yesterday, is nearly identical to a report last week that found that the platform's raw materials alone cost $101.

IHS iSuppli said the 3DS' bill of materials is 33 percent higher in cost compared to the 3DS predecessor, Nintendo DSi, at the time of that platform's launch two years ago. The DSi launched with a bill of materials of $75.58, the research firm said (it retailed for $169.99 in the U.S.).

IHS iSuppli's teardown includes the cost of not only the components of the 3DS itself, but also the charger, box, packaging and literature, stylus, cables and other extras costs.

The combined cost of the upper 3D stereoscopic display and the lower touch screen -- both from Sharp -- is $33.80, making them together the most expensive components.

IHS senior director of teardown services Andrew Rassweiler said the 3DS' 3D screen implements a "clever feat of engineering."

"When the display module is removed from the 3DS enclosure, it looks like a slightly thicker conventional thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT LCD)," he said in a statement.

"However, upon opening up the device, we observed that on one side of the glass is a conventional color TFT element, while the other side was a monochrome LCD element," he explained.

"The monochrome LCD parallax barrier in the back acts as a gate that allows light to either pass through certain areas of the screen or not," Rassweiler said. "Switching this gate in the right patterns at high frequency helps create the illusion of 3-D depth."

Mechanical and electromechanical components including wiring, plastics, metals, connectors and so forth were next most expensive after the displays, costing $20.81, the firm said. IHS iSuppli believes the dual core processor in the 3DS is manufactured by Sharp and costs $10.02.

IHS iSuppli also noted that the bill of materials and manufacturing cost do not take into account "soft" costs associated with the 3DS, including software, licensing, royalties and other non-hardware costs.

Click here to see IHS iSuppli's full teardown.


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Eric Geer
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Kris Graft
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It's clear that overhead is not included. This report is very clear -- this is for the BOM and the manufacturing costs. The costs here are associated with the hardware itself, as stated in the article.

Also not included in this breakdown are expenses related to electricity, plumbing and heating at Nintendo HQ.

Luis Guimaraes
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What's the reason for this?

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I was going to ask the same.

Kris Graft
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Welp, some people on the internet find these teardowns interesting, if nothing else. iSuppli's teardown is great because it prices the 3DS per component. And it's surprising to me how little the BOM is. Nintendo is pretty masterful at the idea of selling hardware for a profit (although we're not sure exactly what that profit is, we know Nintendo strives to never sell hardware at a loss).

I guess that's my answer to your question!

Willie Sippel
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Chipworks decapped the memory chip and concludes that it's actually 128MB FCRAM, which makes the iSupply teardown a lot less credibly overall. The SoC is most likely wrong as well, as homebrew devs concluded that the ARM7 is still there, so we're talking about at least three CPU cores. It seems iSupply is basing their report on old rumors and speculation they found on the net, not an actual in-depth hardware analysis.

Eric Feliu
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The 3DS probably uses a custom motherboard to link all the components together as well which I doubt you can buy off the shelf.

Arnaud Clermonté
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For developers, it's pretty depressing to see that Nintendo put a $10 processor and $8 worth of RAM.

Some of us will be struggling for months to make a game fit in memory or run at a decent framerate,

and curse Nintendo for putting such cheap critical components in a console that sells for $250.

Also, gamers will complain about the $3.50 battery not lasting long enough.

Alex K
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Don't worry, they'll put a $5 battery in the 3DS 2.0 a couple years later. But by then, the upgraded battery will also cost 3.50 so they'll have no problem with it.

Kassim Adewale
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I won’t take offence if the reviewer has been striping hardware of other competitors in order to analyse cost of production.

In order not to confuse the consumer, they must prove their point beyond reasonable doubt to include research cost, consultation fee, OS development, subsidised bundled games, newly purchased fixed assets, staff manpower, electricity…

Otherwise, I don’t see Nintendo as a company that can rip-off consumers.