What's inside the Apple TV?

What's inside the Apple TV?

Summary: Apple appears to have chosen Intel, Broadcom, Nvidia and others for its Apple TV

TOPICS: Hardware

(Updated on 3/23/07@10:15 a.m.) What’s on Apple TV? Apparently chips from well-known makers, including Intel, Nvidia, Broadcom and Silicon Image.

I’m always interested in what is inside new products like the Apple TV. Luckily I'm not the only one. Apple TV teardowns by the Techrestore FutureShock blog (Link: here) and AnandTech (Link: here), reveal all of the hardware inside the device. It's no surprise that the $299 Apple TV, which started shipping earlier this week, incorporates an Intel processor. Intel has said the Apple TV uses a derivative of its Pentium M notebook chip. Although Intel has not said how fast it is, the processor chip likely runs in the 800MHz to 1GHz range. Anand believes it to be an Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M, a chip which is available at up to 1GHz. 

The two teardowns also revealed that Apple has used a Fujitsu notebook hard drive, communications chips from Broadcom and an Nvidia graphics processor. The Broadcom chip, located on a communications module daughter card, appears to handle the Apple TV’s Wi-Fi networking. The Nvidia chip, located on its motherboard, is identified as a GeForce 7300 Go by Anand. The chip, offered by Nvidia as a mid-range processor for lighter notebooks, is advertised as being capable of gaming by the chipmaker. But in the Apple TV, it's there to handle graphics and possibly video encode/decode, as Anand points out. A version of Intel's 945 chipset handles I/O and other chipset functions, his teardown analysis says. A Silicon Image chip drives the Apple TV’s display interface. It’s possible that Apple uses some parts, such as the hard drive and or wireless daughter cards, interchangeably and that Fujitsu and Broadcom may not be the only suppliers for those respective components. However, that's of little importance to Apple TV users so long as they're happy with its performance.

What's most interesting from viewing these two teardowns is that, given the sum of its parts, the Apple TV could do a lot more than simply store and then relay videos to a television. Inside, it's got the heart of a fully-fledged miniature PC. A personal computer that is.

Topic: Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • And it's held together by ..

    tape. After seeing all of the tape they use I half expected the rest to be made out of tin foil.

    What a joke for $300.
    • Come on.

      You can do better than that...
  • It's a Computer!

    Hmmmm, they obviously have more to come than the public has been led to believe.
  • nVidia

    Does anyone with the right knowledge have any idea what that nVidia chip is capable of?

    Could gaming at some level be coming?
    • Not for games

      The nVidia GF 7300 Go is a mid-level mobile GPU set that is suitable for business graphics and *very* mild gaming use, as well as playing DVDs and, I would guess, streaming video. It uses "TurboCache(tm) Technology", meaning that it has a limited amount of dedicated video ram (64-128Mb) and draws upon system RAM for the rest of its memory needs, depending on how hard you drive it. It is essentially a variation on the GF 7300LE, which is the lowest version of the 7300 chipset (also known in gaming circles as the "Lame Edition".

      Since the processor included in the AppleTV box is a Pentium M that's rated around 1Ghz, I don't see that the box would be particularly useful as a gaming box type of media extender.
      M.R. Kennedy
      • my atari plays games...

        maybe this device could not play the type of games we think of on xbox or playstation with that card, but it could do popcap, tetris, smaller games quite easily.