Looking Inside the "Game Boy Micro"

Sep 13, 2005
Nintendo's new portable game console, the "Game Boy Micro"
Nintendo's new portable game console, the "Game Boy Micro"
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The thickness is 17.2 mm. Due to the game cartridge slot occupying a large space, the area, where components are crammed in, was smaller than it looks.
The thickness is 17.2 mm. Due to the game cartridge slot occupying a large space, the area, where components are crammed in, was smaller than it looks.
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The main board consists of two pieces connected with a flexible substrate.
The main board consists of two pieces connected with a flexible substrate.
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The front surface of the main board. In the center is a microprocessor featuring an ARM core.
The front surface of the main board. In the center is a microprocessor featuring an ARM core.
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Nikkei Electronics recently invited two experts on mobile products and together tore down Nintendo Co., Ltd.'s "Game Boy Micro" portable game console. The first thing they were interested in finding out was the Game Boy Micro's cost structure.

The game console measures 50.0 x 101.0 x 17.2 mm and weighs about 80 g, representing an almost 50% cut in both volume and weight compared to the previous product. When we removed the Phillips screws on a side of the case body, a Li-ion secondary battery pack showed. Nintendo seems to have used standard Phillips screws here, so users can easily replace the battery pack.

We started the full-scale tear down from the back of the chassis. When we removed the outer case and components around the cartridge slot, the back of the main board was immediately visible. The main board consists of two pieces, which are connected together with a flexible substrate. One of the experts, who is very familiar with game consoles, estimated this flexible substrate was used to absorb distortion. A user usually holds a console with both hands when playing a videogame on a portable game platform. As a result, twisting strength may sometimes be applied to the chassis during play. If a single unit main board is used, a solder joint connecting an LSI and the board could be torn off due to a simultaneous twist from both ends of the main board. By dividing the main board into two pieces, the flexible substrate can greatly reduce such dangers to the main board.

To see the front surface of the main board on which LSIs are mounted, we tried to disconnect the main board from the console. However, it was much more difficult than we had expected. When one of the experts forced the console open, the main board and the LCD panel came off at the same time. The front surface of the main board came in sight. "I see, ¥12,000 is reasonable for this," said the expert, nodding his head. The very simple main board was only furnished with two large LSIs and one compact LSI.