Cracking Open: Apple TV 2012
March 29, 2012, 8:18am PDT | Length: 00:03:16
Bill Detwiler cracks open the 2012 Apple TV. Inside, he uncovers a new, single-core new A5 system-on-chip and an upgraded Broadcom BCM4330 wireless chip. For a detailed analysis of the teardown, check out my article and the gallery, Apple TV 2012 Teardown: Upgraded processor, wireless chip.
>> The third generation Apple TV may look identical to the second generation model, but Apple's made some significant hardware upgrades. I'm Bill Detwiler, Head Technology Editor, CNET sister site, TechRepublic, and I'm going to crack open the 2102 Apple TV.
Unlike many Apple products, the third generation Apple TV is fairly easy to crack open, and the process is identical to that used on the second generation. Now, using a thin but sturdy metal tool, I popped the bottom cover loose and removed it from the case. Once inside, I disconnected the power supply, removed the screws holding it in place, and then removed it from the case. I then disconnected the status LED from the motherboard, removed the motherboard screws, and removed the motherboard and heat sink. Now, to avoid damaging the status LED. I left it attached to the case. Lastly, I removed the heat sink and EMI/RFI shields from the motherboard. And with that, our teardown was complete. So what did we learn about the Apple TV from our cracking open? Well, the overall design, both inside and out, remains the same as the second generation model. The cases look identical, the power supplies have different part numbers but the same output and connector, and the motherboards have the same shape, connector placement and overall chip layout. The only real internal difference, other than the chips, is the absence of a thermal pad on the exterior of the heat sink. Now, looking at the chips, the 2012 Apple TV's A5 package on package system on a chip, consists of a single core application processor, likely clocked at 1 Ghz, and a DVR-II SDRAM Chip sandwiched on top of each other. Now, this is an upgrade from the 2010 model's A4 Chip. Apple also upgraded the unit's wireless chip from a Broadcom BCM 4329 to the BCM 4330, which is also used on the 2012 iPad. The new chip should improve the device's wireless performance. Now, one piece of hardware Apple didn't upgrade is the unit storage module. Both the 2010 and the 2012 Apple TVs had an 8GB NAND flash chip, Overall the 2012 Apple TV is a solid upgrade to the product line. The support for 1080p video, a revamped interface, the ability to share content with other iOS devices and improved iCloud support, this device should fit perfectly into the household of anyone with an existing Apple ecosystem. On the downside, its $99 price tag makes it a bit more expensive than competing products, and it lacks some streaming services, such as HBO GO, Amazon Instant and Pandora. Now, to see more Apple TV teardown photos, check out my full Cracking Open gallery at techrepublic.com/crackingopen. For CNET and Tech Republic, I'm Bill Detwiler. This has been our cracking open of the 2012 Apple TV.