Broadcom Gains Win In Video IPod

Analysis of Apple Computer Inc.’s new video-capable iPod reveals an important new component supplier for the unit: Broadcom Corp.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 21, 2005

2 Min Read

SAN JOSE, Calif. — iSuppli Corp.'s teardown analysis of Apple Computer Inc.’s new video-capable iPod reveals an important new component supplier for the unit: Broadcom Corp.

While Apple continues to rely on its mainstay component vendors for the new video iPod, including a possible problematic screen vendor, Broadcom is providing its new BCM2722 VideoCore Multimedia Processor to handle the video functionality for the system, according to iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.).

The Broadcom chip and other integrated circuits account for 17 percent of the $151 total bill-of-materials (BOM) cost for the 30-Gbyte iPod, according to iSuppli. Other key cost drivers include the hard disk drive and the display, which together account for another 70 percent of the BOM.

Last week, Apple unveiled a new version of its popular iPod music player capable of playing videos. The company said the new player can display music videos, video podcasts, home movies and TV shows.

It includes 2.5-inch color screen that also can display album artwork and photos. Apple said the new iPod can hold more than 150 hours of video. A 30-Gbyte model sells for $299; a 60-Gbyte version is priced at $399 (see Oct. 12 story).

Meanwhile, on the component front, Apple relies on a mix of old and new suppliers for other key semiconductors in its newest iPod. The new supplier is Broadcom.

The old suppliers include PortalPlayer Inc. and Wolfson Microelectronics plc, whose chips have appeared in several iPod generations, and Cypress Semiconductor Corp., which scored its first iPod win with the nano, according to the research firm.

PortalPlayer is providing its 5021C audio controller, the same part found in the nano, according to iSuppli. Cypress once again is supplying its Programmable System-on-Chip (PSoC)-based CapSense solution for the Click Wheel circuitry that translates user finger movements into digital signals.

Apple chose Cypress when it switched from long-time supplier Synaptics Inc. to its own propriety solution for the Click Wheel.

Apple has two sources for the drives: Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. However, Apple uses just a single supplier for the display, according to iSuppli sources. In comparison, Apple has three suppliers for the nano display, which has had some well-publicized quality issues.

This sole sourcing, along with possible supply constraint for LED backlights, might result in shipping delays. "Once again displays may be a source of heartburn at Apple," said Andrew Rassweiler, manager of iSuppli's Teardown Analysis service.

In any case, chip makers and disk-drive vendors are scrambling to get Apple’s business. “With the market for Portable Media Player (PMP) semiconductors essentially doubling to $6.4 billion in 2009, the stakes in the portable video-processing market are high," said Chris Crotty, senior analyst for consumer electronics at iSuppli.

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