Taking Apart Google's American-made Nexus Q

Google's Nexus Q has been in the news a lot since it made its big debut at Google I/O. However, it's not what the Nexus Q does that has the tech world talking. Instead, people seem more intrigued by the idea that the media streaming device was made in the United States.

Of course, though the Nexus Q sports a 'Made in the USA.' stamp, the device is not 100 percent American. In a recent exclusive with Wired, Google showed off a torn-down Nexus Q and revealed that "most of Nexus Q's non-silicon parts" were made in the USA, including the die-cast zinc base. Today, the teardown masters at iFixit are taking a look for themselves.

iFixit took a look at all of the parts inside the Nexus Q and identified (as best they could) the country of origin of each integrated circuit found inside the device. While the casing is American-made, it's a different story when you start digging for parts.

They first encountered a daughterboard with an OMRON EE-SX1131 Photomicrosensor that was manufactured in either Santa Clara, CA or Schaumburg, IL. Then came a second daughterboard with several more notable ICs, including Atmel ATMEGA328P (manufactured in Colorado Springs, CO or Nantes, France), NXP Semiconductors 44501 Near-Field Communications Controller (manufactured in Germany, China, UK, Netherlands, or Singapore), and TXC 8.00 MHz Crystal Quartz Oscillator (manufactured in Taoyuan, Taiwan or Zhejiang, China). 

Moving on from daughterboards, the main board features a myriad of chips from various locations around the world. This includes the Samsung KLMAG4FEJA-A002 16 GB moviNAND Flash Memory, manufactured in Hwaseong, South Korea, or Austin, TX; the SMSC LAN95000A Hi-Speed USB 2.0 to 10/100 Ethernet Controller, manufactured in North America, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, India or Europe; the Elpida B8064B2PB 8 Gb DRAM and Texas Instruments OMAP4460 Application Processor SOC; the Murata KM10L3002, manufactured in Japan, China, or Taiwan; the SMSC USB3320C Highly Integrated Full Featured Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ULPI Transceiver, manufactured in North America, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, China, India or Europe; and the Texas Instruments 6030B1A4 integrated power management, manufactured in USA, Germany, China, Japan, or the Philippines.

Lastly, the LED board houses two Texas Instruments TLC5947 24-channel, 12-bit PWM LED drivers with internal oscillators, while the audio board packs a Texas Instruments TAS5713 25 watt digital audio power amplifier with EQ and DRC. iFixit reports both of these could've been made in one of several locations in the world, including the USA, Germany, China, Japan, or the Philippines. 

As you've probably noticed, many of these parts could have been manufactured in the USA, but they also could have been made elsewhere. We know Google used a Wisconsin company to make the casing, but the search giant hasn't yet commented on the individual components of the device. All of that aside, iFixit writes that the Nexus Q is fairly easy to disassemble. It scored an 8/10 on the site's famed repairability scale.

"Disassembling the entire device is pretty straightforward -- limited amounts of adhesive and non-exotic screws help to make repairing the Q fairly easy," iFixit said in an email.

However, they also warn those about to take on such a project to be careful. Apparently there are a ton of tiny parts to be kept track of. This in and of itself makes it a little awkward to put back together.

Click through to iFixit for the full gallery and details of the teardown.

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  • jhansonxi
    The raw materials for the parts themselves could have come from anywhere.
  • eddieroolz
    I sense that Google tried to maximize this device's made-in-USA status. Some of these parts could have been more "American" though - such as the memory modules (from Micron). Though if that was done, I'm sure the unit will cost $400.

    Either way though, not paying $300 for a media streamer.
  • kawininjazx
    Repairability 8/10

    Desirability 1/10

    If it was $99 we could talk. For $299 it should come with a nice internal speaker.