Pentium M-based Intel chip at heart of Apple TV

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 144
    interesting that apple TV has a better graphics processor than the macbook!
  • Reply 2 of 144
    Nobody seems to have an answer: Does it HAVE to be a widescreen TV? Or can it be 480p 4:3 ratio?
  • Reply 3 of 144
    galleygalley Posts: 971member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 144
    What does that mean? Will a 30" TV bought in 1994 likely be able to be used with the apple TV?
  • Reply 5 of 144
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 144
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    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
  • Reply 7 of 144
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 144
    Too bad there not passing the savings on to the consumer. This box probably costs them $150 max.
  • Reply 9 of 144
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 144
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    You know, part for part that's better than the original XBox.
  • Reply 11 of 144
    wouldn't they want to use something from the ViiV platform?
  • Reply 12 of 144
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jp_flashman View Post


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



    Your joking, right?
  • Reply 13 of 144
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    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 ...
  • Reply 14 of 144
    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!
  • Reply 15 of 144
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 144
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 144
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 144
    Jobs said 720p.
  • Reply 19 of 144
    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."
  • Reply 20 of 144
    40gb? thats it?...common apple thats tooo small
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