Teardown: A look inside Chromecast - Embedded.com

Teardown: A look inside Chromecast

About a year ago, EDN published my two-part treatise on Google's Chromecast streaming media device:

My perpetually powered-up Chromecast had received sporadic use since then, most recently a few weeks ago without any problems. So I was baffled a few nights ago to find that it was not found by my Android tablet. My iPad and Mac weren't able to detect it on the network, either, no matter that I power-cycled it a few times. Its integrated LED emitted only a steady white glow, it ignored my multiple by-button factory reset attempts, and it wouldn't output anything over HDMI to a connected display. Eventually, I threw in the towel, suspecting either a hardware failure or a flawed automatic firmware update, and put it on top of the teardown candidate pile. Following a LIFO (last in, first out) strategy, here it is for your inspection.

I'm not lucky enough to own a set of iFixit's fancy dissection tools, but a thin flat head screwdriver applied to the gap between the case and the HDMI connector and twisted did the trick:

Here's what you'll see when you remove the underside of the case:

Further remove the system from the case topside, flip it over and more metal shielding awaits your eyes:

In the above photo, I've also shown the reset button, which mates to the switch in the upper right corner. Below the switch, on the far right side, is the micro USB connector used solely (as far as I can tell) for Chromecast power purposes. The two patches of thermal paste mate the shielding to an aluminum heat sink:

You might guess that those same two thermal paste patches correspond to the locations of heat-generating ICs on the PCB topside, and you'd be right:

The paste-obscured chip in the center of the PCB is a Marvell DE3005-A1 SoC, which the company also refers to as the ARMADA 1500-mini. To its right is the equally paste-masked AzureWave AW-NH387, an IC that handles 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM receiver functions (the latter feature isn't harnessed by Chromecast). And speaking of wireless, in the bottom right corner you can see the PCB-etched antenna.

Flip the PCB over, remove the other Faraday shield, and you can scan the Chromecast's memories:


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