iFixIt tears down the second-gen Apple TV

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.

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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

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6 comments
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  • What's it for?

    No I'm not being sarcastic.

    I have digital broadcast, Foxtel HD IQ (same as a HD Tivo), legal TV/movies from the Internet, torrented TV/movies from the Internet. All of this on the same 52" HD screen or on any of my other computers in the house.

    Please tell me what I need an Apple TV for?
    tonymcs@...
    • Hi Tony

      You don't need an apple TV as you have built a system that works for you. Apple TV is created for those that use the Apple media ecosystem. For those folks it is super sweet and super easy to watch their content on the big screen. Airplay is also very cool. Pretty well everyone in my family has an iPhone or a Touch so it will be really easy for them to stream family video, pictures and stuff to the big screen when they visit.
      CowLauncher
      • RE: iFixIt tears down the second-gen Apple TV

        @CowLauncher
        Well said.
        kenosha77a
    • RE: iFixIt tears down the second-gen Apple TV

      @tonymcs@...
      It's another Apple product to buy content from iTunes. Oh, wait this time it's not to buy, but to RENT over and over at ?99 per view to $4.99 for first release Films (which very expensive considered you get those 1st release on DVD from Netflix... and thank you very much I can wait a few days, don't need no instant streaming the moment a release hits the market ;P).

      Like CowLauncher has pointed out is a great addition to an iApple-ified family, otherwise you would have little use for most of its features... even then you could still use it for Netflix streaming.
      freakqnc
  • The Apple TV is $80...

    ... when you consider the remote is $19. That is PHENOMENAL value.
    The TV moniker still is a misnomer. I have to constantly explain that it only gets your iTunes content to the TV... It cannot replace a STB, as it has no tuner.
    mattmuir
    • Not if you think along the lines of Apple,

      mattmuir. Apple does not want you to watch free, over the air television shows, they would rather that you purchase those shows from them going forward replacing only the "tuner" with iTunes.

      An "iTuner" in a sense.
      :|
      Tim Cook