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Electronics & Test

Slideshow: PlayStation 4 Teardown

iFixit.com
11/19/2013  
12 comments
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vipre77
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Gold
Re: Fan, heatsink, repairability
vipre77   6/25/2014 1:19:11 PM
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"And then consider slide 10, and the 5400 RPM 500GB SATA HDD.  What a lousy choice, for everything except price.  A SSD would draw far less power and reduce the load on the power supply and heat pipe.  The heat pipe is a integral part of the cooling design, and of course depends on the fan's NEVER failing.  BTW, the MTBF of the heat pipe will far exceed that of the fan."

While I agree an SSD would be better for the reasons stated, cost is a huge factor.  One I think you've dismissed far too easily.  The cheapest 500GB SSD available right now on Newegg carries a $200 retail price increase over the drive Sony used.  While there could be a trade-off here, though.  As you suggested, they could maybe go with a less exotic cooling solution if they're putting less heat into the system, and recoup some of the cost there.  It likely wouldn't be a wash, though.  Cost of the system would still have to go up, which would negate some of the advantage PS4 currently enjoys vs. the Xbox One.   I can pretty safely assure you that the design decisions made here were not made lightly.

 

"What is actually glued to the spreader or the shield?  As for repairability, adhesive type pads are available, but less common.  However, if there is sufficient mechanical force between the glued components and what they are glued to, a more conventional dry "gap pad" type filler (Bergquist, etc.) should be OK to replace a glue type pad.  Just have to examine the situation carefully.  It is also entirely possible that Sony never intended that there be ANY field service on this beast."

Can't tell very well from these pics, but yes, the SoC is thermally bonded directly to the heat sink.  Sony uses a silk-screened thermal grease patch on their heatsinks.  It's not known what kind of grease they use.  It's a grey color and looks very similar to the Dow Corning TC-5121 grease we are using at my work for our power electronics.  It's not a glue.  It's a grease material which is dry and somewhat tacky once the carrier solvents in it have evaporated out leaving the silicone binder with the filler materials (usually a blend of zinc oxide and other materials on cheaper greases).  Gap pads are convenient for folks on the assembly lines, but even the best of them are crap performers compared to a mediocre grease.  Some pads advertise great contact thermal resistance, but they are simply too thick which drives their bulk thermal resistance too high.  They also usually cost more than grease, especially Bergquist brand materials.  St. Gobain makes some comparable pads at a lower price, if you have to go to a pad.  There are some phase change materials out there that are good, but they tend to be expensive and we've found some reliability problems with them on the industrial products our company makes.  The ONLY places I've seen where Sony uses gap pads is to cool other surface mounted componants on the motherboard where there is a height difference between the component and the shielding where it's impossible to fill the gap with grease.  These pictures aren't detailed enough to show if this kind of thing is used anywhere on the PS4, but they did in several places on the PS3 in every hardware revision I've looked at.

I agree, Sony never designed these things to be field servicable with the exception of the HDD.  These are disposable consumer appliances with negative profit margins, at least initially.  They have repair facilities for doing warranty work, but that's obviously a whole different animal than anything that needs to be user-repairable.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Fan, heatsink, repairability
Cabe Atwell   1/20/2014 5:47:03 PM
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I watched a few 'unofficial' teardowns on YouTube, where Xbox fanatics waited in line to get a PS4, then proceeded to smash them on the cement. This one seems much more technical than those do.

torchh64
User Rank
Iron
Fan, heatsink, repairability
torchh64   11/21/2013 12:26:05 AM
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Re slide 34, the variable speed fan itself may be worthy of oohs and ahhs but it is still a !@#$%^& fan, and it is hard to get to and prone to failure--if you plan to own and use this machine for more than a few months.  Lint, cat hair, etc.  And then consider slide 10, and the 5400 RPM 500GB SATA HDD.  What a lousy choice, for everything except price.  A SSD would draw far less power and reduce the load on the power supply and heat pipe.  The heat pipe is a integral part of the cooling design, and of course depends on the fan's NEVER failing.  BTW, the MTBF of the heat pipe will far exceed that of the fan.

The fact that the shield and heat pipe assembly are permanently attached to each other should not be a concern at all.  The shield doesn't figure into the actual cooling system very much unless MB components are sinked to the shield and then to the spreader, which doesn't appear to be the case. 

It is hard to see exactly what is going on, but it seems like the SoC attaches directly to the bottom side of the heat pipe spreader through a cutout in the shield?  What is actually glued to the spreader or the shield?  As for repairability, adhesive type pads are available, but less common.  However, if there is sufficient mechanical force between the glued components and what they are glued to, a more conventional dry "gap pad" type filler (Bergquist, etc.) should be OK to replace a glue type pad.  Just have to examine the situation carefully.  It is also entirely possible that Sony never intended that there be ANY field service on this beast.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
PLAY STATION 4 TEARDOWN
bobjengr   11/20/2013 5:30:55 PM
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Excellent slide show.  I don't want to be a stick-in-the-mud but this device does not look as though it would survive Christmas morning.  That's my first impression.  I'm sure there are impact tests accomplished during the design phase so I'm probably being a little paranoid but it just looks too fragile. I have five grandkids--all loving devices such as this, so I'm sure Sony will sell serious numbers over the space of next year.  I feel, as do others, the inability to play music and the fact it is not "backward" compatible are real faults with the system.  Again, excellent slide show.    

Ken E.
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Gold
repairability score-
Ken E.   11/20/2013 12:24:49 PM
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Hey, do these guys ever put these things back together again, to see if they still work?  Seems that would be critical to any repairability score.  And when they take apart that glued together stuff, it'd sure be nice to know what needs be re-glued at re-assembly. (Similar to another readers comments on where the heat transfer grease should go.)

I wish too they'd somehow color code the descriptions to go with the color codes on the pics.  Wouldn't hurt to give the function of the chips along with the numbers too.  Perhaps they are spending too much time trying to come up with clever verbiage?

 

John
User Rank
Gold
PS4 Entertainment System?
John   11/20/2013 10:09:06 AM
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$399 and you can't connect a usb drive to it or play cd music on the blue ray player?  No, card slot for SDHD memory cards often found in cameras?  Still no SACD capability?  Hey?  Where's the remote for this bundle?  I know they intend for this to be an entertainment power house hub to play blue ray movies and stream everything across the internet since enterprise class bandwidth is available everywhere.

Anyway.. entertaining teardown.  I would have liked some more specs on the parts.  How fast is the blue ray player for instance and any reputable stores selling legit repair parts, new.

Thanks for the slideshow.

 

ervin0072002
User Rank
Gold
Re: a liitle crazy?
ervin0072002   11/20/2013 9:39:31 AM
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@Naperlou, Yes taking apart things is fun... I'm a test engineer and the most fun i have in this career is when i get to crack open failed projects... I get to see inside and what made it stop ticking which is as tricky then seeing what makes something tick...

jlawton
User Rank
Gold
PS4 a heat sink w/some chips
jlawton   11/20/2013 9:27:36 AM
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Would be nice to know which chips besides the SoC are thermally bonded to that ginormous sink, seems like not knowing exactly how and where to put the conductive goo is the big threat to incorrectly reassembling this box and seeing it thermally self-destruct in a matter of minutes. It would also be informative to know how many layers in the motherboard PCB, maybe there's a large complement of internal vias that helps "justify" that vast "unoccupied" greenspace (not that fiberglass acreage is all that expensive, I'm just curious like everyone else).

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: a liitle crazy?
Charles Murray   11/19/2013 5:25:34 PM
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I know what you mean, naperlou. I like their line, "Happily ignoring our user manual's edict..."

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
a liitle crazy?
naperlou   11/19/2013 12:20:06 PM
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I don't know, but judging by the captions on the slideshow I get the impression these guys are a little crazy and enjoy their work way too much. 

I worked at a firm that made large systems for the miliitary and industry.  We had a senior engineer who was like this.  If we wanted to see what was inside of something we just put it on his desk.  He happily ignored do not open stickers and all warnings.  Sometimes we could not get the thing back together.  On the other hand, we always got to see what was inside.

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