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January 19, 2006

More Than Just Intel Inside The Apple iMac

Courtesy of TechWeb News

Apple Computer Inc.'s iMac desktop PC, introduced by CEO Steve Jobs at last week's MacWorld Expo, is the latest target in iSuppli Corp.'s teardown analysis.

iSuppli found that Apple's first desktop PC based on an Intel Corp. Core Duo microprocessor carries a list of components that cost approximately $873, according to preliminary data. And the iMac could turn into another cash machine for Apple similar to iTunes and the iPod.

The move for Apple marks a major departure from IBM Corp.'s and Freescale Inc.'s PowerPC chips. The Apple iMac and the Intel-based MacBook Pro notebook PC is part of a planned transition for all its notebook, desktop, and server PCs to the Intel architecture, according to iSuppli.

Although Apple rarely shares any information on the components or costs built into its products, iSuppli has identified the computer maker is using Intel's mobile 945 core-logic chipset to support the Core Duo microprocessor, and estimates the cost for the microprocessor at $265. The two-device chipsets are approximately $45.

The iMac carries a $25 manufacturing and test cost. Apple is selling the low-end version of the Intel-based iMac analyzed by iSuppli for a suggested retail price of $1,299.

The Intel microprocessor and the Mobile 945 chipset combined account for 35 percent of the new iMac's total cost, according to Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and senior analyst for iSuppli.

Rassweiler said there were no big surprises inside the machines, and that Apple seems to have gone for maximum density so the overall footprint is as compact as possible. "To fit the exotic form factors Apple has come up with, they seem to build desktops similar to laptops," he said. "The iMac has a normal 3.5-inch hard drive, but it has the equivalent of a laptop display and a laptop optical drive."

Rassweiler said the power supply is a custom device to meet the low-profile requirements inside the case. The memory modules are Small Outline Duel Inline Memory Module (SO-DIMM), which typically is a laptop memory format. A standard desktop would use DIMM. The 802.11 wireless card is also a mini-PCI format, which is something found more often in a laptop than a desktop, he said.

iSuppli reports that the development of an Intel-based iMac offers benefits for both Apple and Intel. For Intel, the Core Duo is the company's first dual-core product designed for notebook PCs, and also is part of the company's new Viiv digital entertainment strategy. For Apple, the Intel microprocessor allows the company to continue to launchdual-core desktop and notebook products. Previously only its high-end PowerMac G5 computers were available with dual-core microprocessors.

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