iFixIt tears down the second-gen Apple TV

Summary:The new second-generation Apple TV bears the unique distinction of being the least expensive iOS device Apple has ever shipped. The set-top box continues Apple's trend of cost-cutting that we saw in the iPad, even sharing several parts with its tablet cousin.

The new second-generation Apple TV bears the unique distinction of being the least expensive iOS device Apple has ever shipped. The set-top box continues Apple's trend of cost-cutting that we saw in the iPad, even sharing several parts with its tablet cousin.

In the process of tearing down the new Apple TV, iFixIt uncovered an Apple A4 processor with 256 MB of integrated RAM (identical to the iPad) and a Samsung NAND flash chip with a surprising 8GB of flash memory.

Apple's current HD movies generally run less than 4GB, but Apple needs around 512MB for the OS and iFixIt hypothesizes that Apple may have opted for the extra flash memory to leave room for video quality improvements over time.

This is the easiest to service new Apple product we've seen recently. We awarded it a coveted Repairability Score of 8 / 10. The ease of repairing this device, integrated high-efficiency power supply, low 6-watt power consumption, and efficient stand-by mode lead us to believe this may be the most eco-friendly set-top box of all time.

Highlights from the teardown:

  • The Apple TV has 256 RAM, just like the 4th Generation iPod Touch and the iPad. The key marking of interest on the A4 processor package is "K4X2G643GE," which is identical to the marking found on the iPad.
  • We found Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND flash chip inside the Apple TV! It's the same chip we found when taking apart the iPad. This is a pretty remarkable amount of storage for a $99 device.
  • We are pretty sure the flash memory is used to cache your favorite shows while they're being streamed.
  • There is an empty spot right next to the Samsung NAND flash that looks to be the perfect size for putting another Samsung NAND flash chip. Could Apple be planning a higher capacity Apple TV in the future?
  • Wi-Fi board brought to you courtesy of Panasonic! This is the first time we've seen a Wi-Fi board from Panasonic in an Apple device. A different division of Panasonic usually supplies the optical drives for Apple's laptops.
  • The Panasonic Wi-Fi board contains a Broadcom BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM, exactly the same as the one we found on the iPad.
  • The solder pads near the side of the logic board look to be a *perfect* match for a dock connector! This Apple TV seems to be a couple of features shy of a full-on computer. Perhaps this logic board will be used in future iPads?
  • Apple is continuing its theme of hiding power supplies inside their devices. It's especially impressive here, considering that the Apple TV is only slightly larger than a 60 watt MacBook AC adapter.
  • The sticker on the power supply has this rating: 3.4V @ 1.75A. We'll save you the multiplication: that's just 5.95 watts!
  • Apple brags that when in standby mode, the Apple TV uses less power than a night light. We don't suggest trying to use the status LED to illuminate your dark hallways, though.

Did you order one?

Topics: Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, iPad, Legal, Mobility

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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