Friday, June 8, 2012

Hardware Inspection Part #1

Before even buying my Kindle Fire #1, I started to inspect the hardware and especially the main PCB on iFixIt. Because I love to know what is inside consumer electronics, I also love iFixIt! Of course, it can't make up for the experience and joy of opening and analyzing the device yourself and attaching a digital storage oscilloscope everywhere you like to. But it was a good start for me also here.

This is what I learned from there:
  1. The WLAN companion chip (from the WL127x series) uses just TI's WiLink WLAN IP core and not all 3 for WLAN, BT and GPS. Actually, there are 4 if you include FM. So no need to invest time into finding out the hard way by trying to get a linux driver working blindly.
  2. Although iFixIt missed to mention it, the Kindle Fire comes with an ambient light sensor. Right after my first kernel build, I immediately tried out all ambient light sensor drivers that I could find. None of them seems to work. Did Amazon remove it from the code? I payed for the sensor, I got it, so I've also the right to use it!
  3. Surrounding the Flash ROM there's a line of 40 soldering pads and a PCB imprint that hints at the shape of a ZIF socket. I suspect that on pre-production models Amazon either used that for a larger, exchangeable Flash module or the JTAG interface. Or for both :-)

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