iFixit tears down the Surface Studio, and finds an ARM chip inside

Laurent Giret

Microsoft Surface Studio with Ink

While Microsoft is not expected to start shipping Surface Studio orders in the US until early 2017, we reported a week ago that some customers who pre-ordered the all-in-one PC received it last week ahead of Thanksgiving. iFixit, the company well known for their teardown of popular electronics devices already have their hands on one and found out an interesting chip behind the Surface Studio’s 28-inch display (via The Verge).

Indeed, iFixit discovered that the Surface Studio’s motherboard is actually split in two parts, with one part housed in the base and an another (bigger) one located behind the display. Among all the different chips that are soldered to this part of the board, iFixit noted the presence of a 32-bit ARM Cortex M7 processor but didn’t provide more details about what it’s for, though The Verge noted that it’s actually here to help power the Surface Studio’s PixelSense display.

On the right, you can see the Surface Studio's Atmel ARM chip.
On the right, you can see the Surface Studio’s Atmel ARM chip.

Microsoft is actually not the first to integrate an ARM chip on a computer motherboard as Apple also did it with its new MacBook Pro models featuring a Touch Bar to replace function keys. As Apple explained during its latest keynote, this new UI element is partially powered by an ARM-based T1 processor which also houses a secure enclave for security-related features such as Touch ID.

Overall, iFixit gave the Surface Studio of repairability score of five, noting that the RAM, CPU, and GPU are soldered to the board and cannot be upgraded, although the hybrid storage drive is removable. If you still considering ordering the all-in-one PC, it may be a good idea to future-proof your purchase by not choosing the base model with only 8GB of RAM.