Teardown Tuesday: Pokemon Red!July 19, 2016 by Alex Udanis
With the release of Pokemon Go!, Pokemon is finding its way back into the minds of millions. What's inside of a Pokemon Red cartridge?
With the release of Pokemon Go!, Pokemon is finding its way back into the minds of millions. In this Teardown Tuesday, we are going to take a look at the insides of one of the original Pokemon video games.
The Pokemon Red game
The Pokemon Red PCB
The circuit board of the game is a two-sided PCB that measures 2.0” by 2.4” (51mm by 61mm) and is 0.037” (0.9mm) thick. This PCB is two layers with a green solder mask. There is no silkscreen on this board, but the reference designators are indicated in the absence of solder mask. On the back of the PCB, there are four tests points.
The ROM inside of the game
As you can see from the image above, there are not too many components on the game cartridge. The first component we will take a look at is the ROM.
The ROM stores the game, itself. The IC has the markings “DMG-APAE-0 D1”, “M538011E-13”, and “915532R”. Also, this IC is U1 on the PCB.
The SRAM inside of the game
Located to the left of the ROM is the SRAM. The SRAM stores all of the game progress in it.
The SRAM IC on this PCB is a Sharp LH52256CN in a 28-SOP. The LH52256CN is a 256kbit RAM. This IC has a reference designator of U3. On the top of the RAM is “LH52256CN-I0LL”, “Sharp”, “Japan”, and “9907 7 SO”. This component appears to be end-of-life.
The MBC inside of the game
Located Directly above the is the memory bank controller or MBC. The MBC switches between the multiple memory banks in the ROM.
This IC has a reference designator of U2. On the top of the MBC is “MBC3 A”, “LR38536B”, and “9910 A”.
The Battery inside of the game
The SRAM inside of the game cartridge is volatile. In order to retain the game state information in the SRAM, it needs to be placed into a standby mode. In standby mode, the SRAM draws 1.0 µA when the data retention voltage is VCCDR = 3 V.
To provide the power for data retention there is a Panasonic CR2025 coin cell battery inside the game cartridge. With a low standby current draw and a typical capacity of 165mAh, this battery lasts for years.
Wrapping it up!
The battery inside of the game
This is the Pokemon game that started it all, nearly 20 years before Pokemon Go. Made entirely out of surface mount components, the electronics in this game cartridge aren’t all that different compared to modern ones.
Thanks for taking a look at this Teardown Tuesday. Stop by next week for another teardown!
Next Teardown: IoT Power Outlet