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Pentium M-based Intel chip at heart of Apple TV

post #1 of 145
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Exclusive: Pop the lid off an Apple TV, the new wireless streaming media device from Apple, Inc., and you'll find that it's built around an aging Pentium M-based Intel processor and other yesteryear notebook technologies.

Apple through its website last week began accepting pre-orders for the $299 device, due to ship next month. It also listed a general set of technical specifications that included mention of an "Intel processor" and "40GB hard drive."

But for the most part, Apple in its public disclosure on Apple TV has foregone the nitty-gritty of processor specifics, bus speeds and video decoding technology. The omissions have driven some enthusiasts crazy, but we think we've finally got answers.

According to those familiar with the component makeup of Apple TV, it utilizes a 1.0GHz Pentium M-based chip (code-named "Crofton"), which has been under-clocked to run on a 350MHz bus. The chip is based on Intel's pre-Core Duo "Dothan" core and includes 2MB of L2 cache.

Aiding the Pentium M in video decoding are a nVidia G72M with 64MB DDR2 video memory (essentially the GeForce Go 7400) and 256MB of 400MHz DDR2 main system memory, the latter of which is reportedly soldered to the logic board.

Meanwhile, the device's internal 40GB hard disk drive -- a 2.5-inch PATA -- serves as a local storage for 50 hours of movies and TV shows, 9,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures. Users can sync their entire iTunes libraries to the drive but will need an internet connection when attempting to play back licensed content purchased from the iTunes Store.

Apple TV can join a wireless network in one of two ways -- over 802.11n wireless technology or through high-speed 10/100 terrestrial ethernet. However, it won't function as its own wireless router nor will it support Apple's AirTunes technology. Similarly, it doesn't include Bluetooth.

The sole purpose of the device is to act as a set-top box that will stream audio and video content from up to five iTunes libraries to a enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TV.



Wireless technology, according to those familiar with Apple TV, is delivered through the combination of an 802.11n mini PCIe card and five wireless antennas spread throughout the device's chassis -- two for data transmission and three for data reception. A fan is also included for cooling, those people say.

Although each Apple TV ships with a USB port, it is offered purely for services and diagnostics purposes.

When it ships in February, Apple TV will require the forthcoming releases of iTunes 7.1 and QuickTime 7.1.5.

Published Sunday 5:00pm ET as part of Monday's early morning edition.
post #2 of 145
interesting that apple TV has a better graphics processor than the macbook!
post #3 of 145
Nobody seems to have an answer: Does it HAVE to be a widescreen TV? Or can it be 480p 4:3 ratio?
post #4 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukemeiser View Post

Nobody seems to have an answer: Does it HAVE to be a widescreen TV? Or can it be 480p 4:3 ratio?

Progressive scan 4:3 TVs should work.
post #5 of 145
What does that mean? Will a 30" TV bought in 1994 likely be able to be used with the apple TV?
post #6 of 145
What I want to know is if standard old full screen 4:3 aspect ratio TVs that have progressive scan will work with Apple TV. Thanks Galley, I sure hope you're right. Otherwise I'd have to buy a new widescreen TV just so it would work, and I'm sure not going to do that.
post #7 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukemeiser View Post

What I want to know is if standard old full screen 4:3 aspect ratio TVs that have progressive scan will work with Apple TV. Thanks Galley, I sure hope you're right. Otherwise I'd have to buy a new widescreen TV just so it would work, and I'm sure not going to do that.

I believe it will work fine if you have red-blue-green compositive video ports on your TV. But a TV from 1994 won't have these. I'm not sure about convertors and how that would work.

Internally Apple lists TV requirements as: "Enhanced- or high-definition widescreen capable of 1080i, 720p, 576p (PAL), or 480p."

On its website Apple similarly says Apple TV supports: "Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz."

So it sounds like they only plan to support EDTV and HDTVs that have at least the composite connection.

This took me by surprise as well. Hopefully we can get a better answer soon.

Best,

K
EIC- AppleInsider.com
Questions and comments to : kasper@appleinsider.com
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post #8 of 145
Who needs airtunes when you have iTV. That's only logical. I'm also glad they're using an old pentium processor. Who needs the latest and greatest when you have something that works fine and costs less? It saves me money.
post #9 of 145
Too bad there not passing the savings on to the consumer. This box probably costs them $150 max.
post #10 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSuperiority View Post

Too bad there not passing the savings on to the consumer. This box probably costs them $150 max.

Welcome to the real-world of consumer electronics.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #11 of 145
You know, part for part that's better than the original XBox.
post #12 of 145
wouldn't they want to use something from the ViiV platform?
post #13 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp_flashman View Post

interesting that apple TV has a better graphics processor than the macbook!

Your joking, right?
post #14 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSuperiority View Post

Too bad there not passing the savings on to the consumer. This box probably costs them $150 max.

And $10m (another made up figure) in software development costs and associated costs (website, support, design, etc).

If it bombs and they only sell 100,000 (the initial shipment), they've broken even ($150 + $100 + misc), and gained some useful technologies / code for the future.

I thought it would use a 1.8" hard drive. A 40GB 2.5GB hard drive is a bit of a let down, albeit cheap. Why not offer a $349 option with an 80GB hard drive, or $399 with 120GB?

I don't care about the hardware, as long as it does the job. Maybe a faster CPU + GPU would have allowed 1080i/1080p support however. Maybe this can be added via a firmware update in the future (1080i especially isn't that much more than 720p) but this is not Apple's style.

I'm waiting until next year for Rev. 2 Not that I have a compliant TV at the moment unless it will work on a widescreen PAL TV via component->SCART... Maybe Rev. 2 will be cheaper, or add more features.

I guess we know it runs on a subset of Mac OS X now though ...
post #15 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSuperiority View Post

Too bad there not passing the savings on to the consumer. This box probably costs them $150 max.

All you really get is convenience. Anyone can hook there computer up to their TV right now with the proper cables. Apple TV makes it seamless and easy to view all of your media. A built in DVR would make the price more reasonable because $300 is ridiculous. I'll still buy one (if it works with my TV) though I will certainly cringe when I do. Of course a year later Apple will probably add a DVR to it, an then I'll have to buy one of those too!
post #16 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

You know, part for part that's better than the original XBox.

Heh, good point! Probably 50% faster CPU wise, the GPU memory is the same as the entire memory of the XBox and then there's 256MB more beyond that (= 5x memory), more HD, and the graphics chip is probably far more powerful and featureful too. That's what 5 years of technology advancement gets you.

I guess that as a media device it also has better quality outputs (decent audio DACs, etc)...

Not bad for £199. A Wii is £179 ... then again the Wii is simply awesome.
post #17 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp_flashman View Post

interesting that apple TV has a better graphics processor than the macbook!

They're virtually the same, especially if the tv uses TurboCache, which we don't know.
post #18 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

I don't care about the hardware, as long as it does the job. Maybe a faster CPU + GPU would have allowed 1080i/1080p support however. Maybe this can be added via a firmware update in the future (1080i especially isn't that much more than 720p) but this is not Apple's style.

It already supports 1080i.
post #19 of 145
Jobs said 720p.
post #20 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacSuperiority View Post

Jobs said 720p.

As Kaspar stated earlier,

"On its website Apple similarly says Apple TV supports: "Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz."
post #21 of 145
40gb? thats it?...common apple thats tooo small
post #22 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTrain View Post

As Kaspar stated earlier,

"On its website Apple similarly says Apple TV supports: "Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz."

Those are the TVs it supports. The actual video it will play back is 720p max.
post #23 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

I don't care about the hardware, as long as it does the job. Maybe a faster CPU + GPU would have allowed 1080i/1080p support however.

This is part of the marketing.
  • Early adopters will buy the device, regardles.
  • Most people know what HD stands for, but have no idea of the differences between 720p, 1080i, 1080p30, 100p60, etc.
  • The majority of HDTVs currently being used are not even 1080p capable,
  • Media appliances are not something you need to upgrade as often as a PC. AppleTV (rev.1) will still be useful 5 -10 years from now for most people's needs. So this gives Apple something new to sell you a year from now. (add a faster CPU, GPU, more RAM, larger HDD, and 1000BASE-T). They might even hold off on upgrading the OS's features, with an excuse that the current HW can't handle the load, which will force you to buy the newer version.
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post #24 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

AppleTV (rev.1) will still be useful 5 -10 years from now for most people's needs.

If it doesn't have the hardware to decompress video beyond 720p, I really doubt it'll still be useful 10 let alone 5 years from now (other than for audio playback). Larger TVs being sold will be mostly 1080p in a year, prices will keep coming down, and then the official switchover to HD in the US will occur in less than 5 years. I'd give it 1-2 years max before the average person starts to realize how weak the specs on this are. On the plus side, that fits in better with your "giv[ing] Apple something new to sell you a year from now".
post #25 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmjoe View Post

If it doesn't have the hardware to decompress video beyond 720p, I really doubt it'll still be useful 10 let alone 5 years from now (other than for audio playback). Larger TVs being sold will be mostly 1080p in a year, prices will keep coming down, and then the official switchover to HD in the US will occur in less than 5 years. I'd give it 1-2 years max before the average person starts to realize how weak the specs on this are. On the plus side, that fits in better with your "giv[ing] Apple something new to sell you a year from now".

If I recall correcly the average person keeps their TV for 5-9 years. There is also iTunes video resolution; I speculate this will only improve to 720p for the next 5 years.
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post #26 of 145
How long until someone installs inux on one...?

It would be a cheap box to experiment on...
post #27 of 145
I'm a bit confused - can someone explain why I would need to sync my iTunes content onto the Apple TV's hard drive, if I can stream all the content I want over the air? For a lot of users, I agree, 40gb is less than their iTunes library and this therefore raises questions about what gets synced and what doesn't, and do we enter manual mode somehow if this happens...but if the wireless network will support streaming video (which would be the hungriest bandwidth-wise), then I don't understand why I'd need to have my data in two places (my mac and my Apple TV)?

I guess it'll come down to speed, i.e. content on the hard drive will be accessed faster. But either I'm misunderstanding something or my requirements are different to most people, because I would assume that if there is ANY slowdown or frame loss for streamed video, then the device becomes pretty pointless (for video anyway). And if there ISN'T any slowdown, then we're back to my original question - what's the point in syncing to the hard drive?

Any ideas?
post #28 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blascock View Post

40gb? thats it?...common apple thats tooo small

Too small for what? Stream content from your main computer...that is what it's designed to do, you know.

Of course, once it starts shipping and people crack it open, someone will find a way to upgrade the drive.
post #29 of 145
You store the content on the Apple TV so that your computer doesn't need to be running to watch or listen to the content.
post #30 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Heh, good point! Probably 50% faster CPU wise, the GPU memory is the same as the entire memory of the XBox and then there's 256MB more beyond that (= 5x memory), more HD, and the graphics chip is probably far more powerful and featureful too. That's what 5 years of technology advancement gets you.

I guess that as a media device it also has better quality outputs (decent audio DACs, etc)...

Yes. This means the folks who predicted the hardware would be highly specialized, were mistaken. This is why I brought up the comparison to XBox. If Apple wanted to, they could sell a gamepad - connect via infrared or any wireless standard they want by using the USB plug at the back - and sell games far beyond what is possible with the iPod.

An AppleTV Live Arcade, if you will.
post #31 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsmells View Post

I'm a bit confused - can someone explain why I would need to sync my iTunes content onto the Apple TV's hard drive, if I can stream all the content I want over the air? For a lot of users, I agree, 40gb is less than their iTunes library and this therefore raises questions about what gets synced and what doesn't, and do we enter manual mode somehow if this happens...but if the wireless network will support streaming video (which would be the hungriest bandwidth-wise), then I don't understand why I'd need to have my data in two places (my mac and my Apple TV)?

I guess it'll come down to speed, i.e. content on the hard drive will be accessed faster. But either I'm misunderstanding something or my requirements are different to most people, because I would assume that if there is ANY slowdown or frame loss for streamed video, then the device becomes pretty pointless (for video anyway). And if there ISN'T any slowdown, then we're back to my original question - what's the point in syncing to the hard drive?

Any ideas?

If you shut your computer down, you could still play it off Apple TV after you sync it. Plus it's a good way to back up your media. Hardly anything on my computer is more important than my photos, videos, and music so having them backed up automatically to another location is also good insurance.
post #32 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

Yes. This means the folks who predicted the hardware would be highly specialized, were mistaken. This is why I brought up the comparison to XBox. If Apple wanted to, they could sell a gamepad - connect via infrared or any wireless standard they want by using the USB plug at the back - and sell games far beyond what is possible with the iPod.

An AppleTV Live Arcade, if you will.

It might have been plausible if it had included Bluetooth. Infrared controller? Not likely.
post #33 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukemeiser View Post

It might have been plausible if it had included Bluetooth. Infrared controller? Not likely.

Five words: eight-oh-two-eleven-bee
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post #34 of 145
This product seems like a DUD. It does not approach Apple's usual standards.

Way less than meets the eye. I was truly looking forward to getting one for my birthday (from my wife, who usually asks me what I want, I tell her, and... ), but I am going to wait.

Yesterday's stuff.

post #35 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by dukemeiser View Post

It might have been plausible if it had included Bluetooth. Infrared controller? Not likely.

You apparently ignored the part of my post that said "any wireless standard". There's an USB plug at the back which the tech specs claim will be used for "service and updates". Sounds to me like that port is unused practically always. In fact, if they just build in standard USB joystick support, you could go to the nearest computer store and pick up a run-of-the-mill PC wireless gamepad. For instance Logitech has a good pad with 2.4GHz wireless, tiny USB receiver and multiple pads supported on one receiver.
post #36 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

You apparently ignored the part of my post that said "any wireless standard". There's an USB plug at the back which the tech specs claim will be used for "service and updates". Sounds to me like that port is unused practically always. In fact, if they just build in standard USB joystick support, you could go to the nearest computer store and pick up a run-of-the-mill PC wireless gamepad. For instance Logitech has a good pad with 2.4GHz wireless, tiny USB receiver and multiple pads supported on one receiver.

Actually the official thech specs list it as "USB 2.0 (for service and diagnostics)"
This is the biggest let down for me.
I would have gotten one if I could of attached an external HD to supplement the 40GB internal drive.

I think Apple has a golden opportunity to create the home server standard.
The AppleTV should be able to back up important files from from up to 5 Macs & PCs.
Backup is the killer app! Something nobody has made drop dead simple.
They should have called it the iVault and designed it to work with Leopard's Time Machine.
post #37 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

This product seems like a DUD. It does not approach Apple's usual standards.

Way less than meets the eye. I was truly looking forward to getting one for my birthday (from my wife, who usually asks me what I want, I tell her, and... ), but I am going to wait.

Yesterday's stuff.


Why not just buy a Mac mini and hook it up to your tv? Bigger hard drive, better processor, more Ram, bluetooth, and you can still hook it up to your wireless network plus you'd be able to surf the web and buy content from iTunes directly from your tv. With tv you have to buy content from your computer and stream it to your tv (not very convenient if your on the couch and want to watch something spur of the moment) Using a Mac mini and a wireless keyboard on your coffe table, you could buy content directly from iTunes and watch without streaming.

Considering that Mac mini's already have the Front Row interface, I don't really see the appeal of tv. The mini is even smaller.

Oh yeah, the mini is a dvd player too.
post #38 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Five words: eight-oh-two-eleven-bee

A remote via WiFi? You have got to be kidding me. The battery life would be disastrous.
post #39 of 145
Imagine - a hacked AppleTV on top of your TV, with hacked iPhones as accelerometer-based controllers.

Apple-Wii, here we come...
post #40 of 145
I don't see why people keep bringing up non-widescreen TV's with component that are 480p. I have FOUR TV's in my house all of which are 4:3, have component inputs, but are only 480i. I KNOW that these types of TV's are out there (mainly because I own several). What about these TV's? Will they not be supported either? I have never heard of this...Heck, my PS3 is a frickin Blu-ray player hooked up via component capable of (although it's not) outputting at 1080p and still works on my 480i component TV. I would be speechless if Apple forced this down my throat. Anyway, I already bought the Apple TV because I'm an Apple whore, so I'll know soon enough if I have to upgrade.
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