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How the Kindle Fire Works

Amazon Kindle Fire Inside and Out

The Kindle Fire is a 7-inch (17.8-centimeter) tablet, making it smaller than Apple's iPad, the most popular tablet on the market according to surveys [source: Netburn]. It's comparable in size to the standard Amazon Kindle e-reader. Its design is simple -- on the bottom edge of the device there are two ports and one button. The ports include a micro-USB port for charging and transmitting data over a USB cable and a 3.5-millimeter (0.14-inch) headphone jack. The power button is the only physical button on the Kindle Fire. All other controls for the Kindle Fire are virtual -- you activate them through the capacitive touch-screen interface.

Checking under the hood, the Amazon Kindle Fire packs a lot of punch in a small space. A lithium-ion battery provides power. It's a rechargeable battery and one you can't easily replace if it fails. To get to the battery, you'd have to pry apart the front and back halves of the Kindle Fire's case -- a sure way to void your warranty.

A circuit board beneath the battery houses the brains and nervous system for the Kindle Fire. The processor for the Kindle Fire is a Texas instruments 1-gigahertz, dual-core microprocessor called the OMAP 4430. You wouldn't see it at first glance -- it's nestled under a 512-megabyte RAM chip from Hynix. Other chips on the circuit board include:

  • An 8-gigabyte flash memory chip from Samsung
  • A power management integrated circuit chip from Texas Instruments
  • A transmitter, audio codec and bus transceiver chips all from Texas Instruments
  • A WiFi/Bluetooth/FM transceiver module from Jorjin, which also covers a WiFi chip from Texas Instruments
  • A touch-screen controller

These components give the Kindle Fire the ability to access media, process data and accept commands. The processor is like the brain -- it crunches numbers and gets results. The memory stores your media and data needed for apps. The RAM acts as a cache, holding important data so the processor can get to it quickly. The bus is like the nervous system -- it routes data to the appropriate destinations. The transmitter sends data to the Kindle Fire's display and the transceiver allows the device to communicate with a network. The touch-screen controller monitors the Kindle Fire's capacitance screen.