Teardown: Microsoft Floor with Home windows RT

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Approach again in June 2012, I lined Microsoft’s launch of its first branded mobile computers, in each x86- (Floor Professional) and Arm-based (Floor RT) flavors; one week later, I compared them against each other. And practically two years after that, I revealed that I’d bought refurbished models of each for ongoing use (and editorial fodder, after all).

The primary-generation Floor Professional continues to be buzzing alongside, closing in on a decade later, no less than the final time I checked; I even up to date it from Home windows Eight to eight.1, and extra just lately to Home windows 10, all in a comparatively unmemorable (albeit imperfect) method. That stated, it’s at present in long-term storage, because it’s been changed for day-to-day use by Surface Pro 4 and LTE-enhanced Pro 5 successors.

The Floor RT (extra precisely: “Floor for Home windows RT”) system, then again was prepared for disassembly.

As I discussed in my May 2017 coverage, I’d observed that the Floor RT would now not reply to power-button-press makes an attempt again in August 2015. I put it on the teardown pile, though I’d periodically pull it again out to fruitlessly see whether or not or not it had spontaneously resurrected itself. At this level, though Home windows RT 8.1 is still covered by Microsoft’s Extended Support for one more 2+ years, ongoing software program improvement has successfully ceased (a state of affairs additional crippled by the truth that the one apps obtainable got here from Microsoft’s personal Retailer, except you have been to jailbreak the system). And though a battery swap brought my Kindle back to life, I don’t assume that’s the basis of the difficulty with this specific system (assuming I might even monitor down a replacement battery for the Surface RT at this level), because it received’t even energy up when AC-tethered, and judging from the glow on the finish, the AC adapter itself nonetheless works simply superb:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT AC adapter

As an alternative, I’ve determined to observe by means of on the teardown I discussed again in 2017. I’ll start with some as-usual pre-surgery pictures, alongside the compulsory 0.75″ (19.1 mm) diameter U.S. penny for dimension comparability. The unit itself is 10.81×6.77×0.37 inches (274.60×172.00×9.30 mm) in dimension, and weighs 1.5 lbs (680.40 grams). Not included (or proven) are the non-obligatory contact and kind cowl keyboards, which nonetheless work superb on my first-generation Floor Professional and due to this fact didn’t go “beneath the knife.”

Mirrored within the 10.6” diagonal widescreen shiny LCD is yours actually, alongside along with his trusty Google Pixel 3a:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT screen with photographer reflected and a penny for scale

Atop the HD (1366×768 pixel) show you’ll see the 720p entrance digital camera; its matched-resolution rear-mount twin is proven within the back-cover shot, in the course of a plastic strip that, each time I see one, is suggestive that there are RF antennas beneath (maintain that thought):

photo of the back of Microsoft Surface RT with a penny for scale

Prolong the single-position kickstand (with enhanced positional flexibility in the successor generation) to prop the system up, and you’ll extra simply seize a photograph of the right-side ports (top-to-bottom): speaker, proprietary digital A/V, full-size USB 2.0, under-kickstand microSDXC, and magnetic energy connector:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT right side ports and a penny for scale

Their left-side counterparts are the speaker, analog headphone/mic jack, and up/down quantity toggle:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT left side ports and a penny for scale

Time to dive inside. The first step is to take away that kickstand; prolonged, a set of product markings on the principle chassis are seen beneath (the picture additionally exhibits the magnetized keyboard connector):

photo of Microsoft Surface RT keyboard connector

At every hinge connection, there’s a T5 Torx screw that requires removing:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT kickstand hinge screws

At that time, the kickstand lifts proper off, revealing extra product markings beneath it:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT kickstand removed

Right here’s a closeup; notably attention-grabbing (IMHO) information contains:

  • Mannequin: 1516
  • FCC ID: C3K1516 (these of you in different nations have equivalents additionally current there)
  • Enter voltage: 12V/2.Zero A

closeup photo of Microsoft Surface RT kickstand markings

And right here’s that aforementioned microSD card, which I’ll be urgent into various service going ahead:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT microSD card

Now for that plastic strip. This teardown signifies that it ought to pop proper off, however my expertise didn’t match. Perhaps it’s as a result of mine was a refurb unit, due to this fact with a plastic strip strengthened with sturdier (adhesive) stuff. Or perhaps I’m only a neanderthal.

photo of tool used to pry the Microsoft Surface RT plastic strip off

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT plastic strip cracked in disassembly

Right here’s an summary of its topside, post-removal, and its underside, together with a closeup of the rear digital camera (additionally the ambient gentle sensor gap alongside it) and one of many microphone openings:

photo of the top and bottom of Microsoft Surface RT's plastic strip removed

photo of Microsoft Surface RT rear camera

Listed here are three pictures of what the bottom appears to be like like after plastic strip removing, together with an early glimpse at a little bit of the insides. Observe, for instance, the rear digital camera and ambient gentle sensor, together with the MEMS microphones’ rubberized “vents.” No seen antenna but, however belief me, they’re there:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT without the plastic strip

three photos of the Microsoft Surface RT underneath the plastic strip

Subsequent, I needed to take away 17 extra T5 Torx screws positioned across the circumference, together with one beneath a warranty-busting sticker:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT screw that was under a sticker

With that mission completed, the 2 halves have been now separable. See something curious, proper off the bat?

photo of Microsoft Surface RT with the back removed

See that glow on this nearer look?

photo of Microsoft Surface RT with a glowing LED

I’d tried one ultimate time to cost up the Floor RT and get it as well earlier than starting the disassembly, and that is proof that my working idea of the battery not being the basis explanation for the system failure has “legs.” Admittedly, it takes far fewer electrons to light up a single miniscule LED versus a complete laptop.

Liftoff achieved:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT open into two halves

In what follows, needless to say the battery subsystem is on the again of the unit, with the opposite half (containing the motherboard, LCD, and so on.) on the entrance. This additionally implies that, for instance, while you’re a circuit board on the left facet of a specific picture, it correlates with connectors discovered on the proper while you’re viewing the system from the entrance.

And talking of which, let’s look extra carefully at that battery subsystem, which consists of two cells and connects to the rest of the system by way of a single flex PCB cable:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT batteries

Maybe clearly, it consists of two distinct lithium-ion polymer cells, collectively delivering 7.4V at a 31.5 Wh ranking:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT battery on the left

photo of Microsoft Surface RT battery on the right

Now for the opposite half, which at first look appears to be like considerably related (containing two white roughly sq. areas, this time for the Samsung LTL106AL01-002 show’s backlight) however will become way more attention-grabbing:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT screen inside

Every part from this level ahead is held in place with a mix of plastic clips and T3 and T4 Torx screws, the latter of which my iFixit 64-bit driver kit dealt with with its normal aplomb. First, let’s get that right-side (left within the picture, keep in mind) meeting for the charging connector and microSDXC reader out of there:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT charging connector and microSDXC reader assembly back

photo of Microsoft Surface RT charging connector and microSDXC reader assembly front

photo of Microsoft Surface RT without the charging connector and microSDXC reader assembly

Above it’s the right-side speaker plus energy swap meeting; after removing, the transducer’s entry to the skin world is much more evident than earlier than:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT power switch and right speaker removed

photo of the inside of the Microsoft Surface RT power switch and right speaker

photo of Microsoft Surface RT without the power switch and right speaker

photo of Microsoft Surface RT speaker vent

And right here’s its left-speaker sibling:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT left speaker removed

photo of the inside of the Microsoft Surface RT's left speaker

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT without the left speaker

Under it’s the analog headphone/microphone jack plus quantity management meeting:

photo of Microsoft Surface RT headphone jack and volume control removed

photo of the back of the Microsoft Surface RT headphone jack and volume control

Under that is what this teardown curiously calls a “third speaker” however I’m fairly positive is a coin cell battery for retaining system settings within the absence of main-battery cost (agree or disagree, readers?):

two photos of Microsoft Surface RT coin cell battery still attached

And on the very backside is the touchscreen controller PCB. On the highest are (amongst different issues) the three Atmel (now Microchip Technology) mXT154 contact controller slave ICs, which mate to an Atmel mXT1386 grasp touchscreen controller SoC on the opposite facet:

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT touchscreen PCB

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT touchscreen PCB back

Right here’s what’s left over after this specific PCB is eliminated:

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT without the touchscreen PCB

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT touchscreen PCB connectors

Did you discover that I saved (arguably) the perfect for final? What a tease, eh? Let’s lastly check out the motherboard on the prime of the meeting together with the post-removal leftovers:

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT motherboard PCB

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT without the PCBs

The very first thing you could be stunned by is the entire absence of a system fan; then once more, although, that’s not so unique for thin-and-light laptop computer and pill designs. Maybe extra notable is the entire absence of any type of (usually hulking massive) passive aluminum warmth sink within the design. However you then would possibly recall, as I did, that this isn’t an x86 CPU-based system, however a extra historically power-thrifty (due to this fact thermally pleasant) Arm-based one.

Earlier than we dive inside these Faraday cages, let’s first flip the PCB over:

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT motherboard PCB back

There’s not a lot to “write dwelling about” right here, however the two array microphone ports at the moment are clearly seen, as are the 2 antennae alongside them.

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT microphone port and antenna

photo of the Microsoft Surface RT microphone port and antenna on the right

My guess is that one of many antennae handles 2.four GHz Wi-Fi communications, together with Bluetooth, whereas the opposite is dedicated to the 5 GHz spectrum. Then once more, although, maybe the Bluetooth antenna is PCB-embedded, as an alternative. Ideas, readers?

Again to the entrance facet; let’s first take away the digital camera modules (once more, with an identical 720p decision):

photo of Microsoft Surface RT camera modules removed

photo of Microsoft Surface RT camera modules back

And now let’s get these Faraday cages off, we could?

photo of Microsoft Surface RT motherboard PCB without cages

Now revealed (amongst different issues) is the one nod to warmth administration, a dab of thermal paste. Beneath it, unsurprisingly, is the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, in a quad-core (plus one) Arm Cortex-A9 configuration. Alongside it’s a Winbond 25Q32BV 32 Mbit SPI serial flash reminiscence, presumably holding the boot BIOS code.

photo of Microsoft Surface RT  SoC on the PCB

To at least one facet you’ll see the 4 Samsung K4B4G0846B four Gbit DDR3 SDRAMs collectively comprising 2 GBytes of system reminiscence. Additionally seen, for instance, is the Marvell Avastar 88W8797 2×2 WLAN/Bluetooth/FM SoC, and its accompanying RF Micro Devices RFFM8200 and RFFM8500 Wi-Fi entrance finish modules.

photo of Microsoft Surface RT SDRAM and Wi-Fi modules on the PCB

On the opposite, you’ll discover (for instance) the Sandisk 32 GByte flash reminiscence storage module, Texas Instruments’ TPS65911 energy administration unit (PMU), a Wolfson 8962E stereo audio codec, and Cypress Semiconductor’s CY8C20466A CapSense 8-bit PSoC. Additionally observe the curiously unpopulated “J14” (naming indicative of a connector) website within the midst of this PCB part.

photo of Microsoft Surface RT PCB components

The Floor RT could also be no extra, however its lineage lives on in Microsoft’s Surface Pro X line, based mostly on extra highly effective Arm-based silicon co-developed with Qualcomm and able to working not solely native Arm-compiled code but additionally supporting 32-bit (and coming soon, 64-bit) emulation for x86-compiled software program. And naturally there’s additionally Apple’s now-underway migration of its numerous laptop product traces from Intel’s x86 to its personal Arm-based SoCs, as a possible proof-of-concept. Ideas on the Floor RT design, the Floor Professional X successor, or anything mentioned right here? As all the time, hold forth within the feedback!

Brian Dipert is Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Imaginative and prescient Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the corporate’s on-line publication.

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