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:
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:
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):
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:
Their left-side counterparts are the speaker, analog headphone/mic jack, and up/down quantity toggle:
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):
At every hinge connection, there’s a T5 Torx screw that requires removing:
At that time, the kickstand lifts proper off, revealing extra product markings beneath it:
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
And right here’s that aforementioned microSD card, which I’ll be urgent into various service going ahead:
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.
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:
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:
Subsequent, I needed to take away 17 extra T5 Torx screws positioned across the circumference, together with one beneath a warranty-busting sticker:
With that mission completed, the 2 halves have been now separable. See something curious, proper off the bat?
See that glow on this nearer look?
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.
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:
Maybe clearly, it consists of two distinct lithium-ion polymer cells, collectively delivering 7.4V at a 31.5 Wh ranking:
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:
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:
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:
And right here’s its left-speaker sibling:
Under it’s the analog headphone/microphone jack plus quantity management meeting:
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?):
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:
Right here’s what’s left over after this specific PCB is eliminated:
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:
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:
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.
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):
And now let’s get these Faraday cages off, we could?
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.
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.
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.
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.