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[Rumor] Microsoft Surface Magnesium Case May Be Hit With Low Yields


Editor in Chief

A new report from DigiTimes suggests that Microsoft may have a low-yield problem with their new Surface Tablet because of the Magnesium Alloy case. Apparently, Microsoft was already courting manufacturers before the debut of the Surface. They were wanting to buy as many as 5 million units worth of magnesium-aluminum cases. Unfortunately, the top manufacturers were not going be able to come close to that capacity for full-fledged magnesium-aluminum designs.

Eventually Microsoft settled on a different technology, which is called VaporMg. It is basically a magnesium chassis with a surface treatment that makes it similar to a traditional metal chassis. Also, to get this done, Microsoft had to turn to a second-tier manufacturer to make the device, and unfortunately the yields will be much smaller than they had hoped. Here's a quote with more details,

The sources pointed out that before Microsoft launched Surface, the company has inquired at several metal chassis makers about their available capacity and revealed to these makers that its orders for Surface tablet PCs will go as high as five million units before the end of 2012; however, the chassis makers were forced to give up because of lack of capacity.

Although Microsoft's current chassis design for Surface allows the device to feature a similar exterior and sturdiness as traditional magnesium-aluminum, while having several color choices, the drawback of the design is that the device will be heavier.

The sources also pointed out that the chassis is supplied by a China-based supplier, but since the company is a second-tier maker, its low yield rates are causing Microsoft to pay a lot of attention to the supplier's manufacturing process hoping for improvements.

Of course, sometimes DigiTimes has some questionable accuracy so take this story with a grain of salt.

Source: DigiTimes


Super Moderator
I'm not buying into this very much. They weren't very clear about some of the basics (intentionally?) which leads me to believe this is mostly hype.

1. Let's not beat around the bush and get to the point that they must be talking about the Aluminum on the iPad as "traditional." Perhaps MS chose the vapor process to give a similar exterior to the iPad perhaps not and they simply wanted other benefits of the process.

2. Magnesium is lighter than Aluminum but it is implied that the material and process choice is responsible for a heavier device. While other design considerations may increase the weight, it doesn't make sense to call out a weight increase for this reason. The weights have already been given and are in line with tablets in general.

So what is the point of this article? Simply to say that MS has potential supply issues? Duh! They are not a first party manufacturer and the big supply companies are occupied with the orders of the big first party manufacturers. Why not just say due to production limitations in the tablet supply pipeline MS is using a second tier supplier who might not be capable of producing the Magnesium cases for the number of units MS is predicting moving? Oh yeah, because those are the facts and not sensational enough :p