Apple TV 2nd Generation Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

After acquiring a small brown box during a daring heist this morning, we finally have the new Apple TV in our destructive mitts! Will this be the device that changes the direction of Apple as we know it? Tune in as we take apart the 2nd generation Apple TV.

We awarded the 2nd generation Apple TV a coveted Repairability Score of 8 / 10 due to its ease of disassembly, minuscule power consumption, and highly recyclable construction.

Follow us @iFixit on Twitter for the latest insight on what makes this thing tick.

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Edit Step 1 Apple TV 2nd Generation Teardown  ¶ 

  • After three years, Apple has finally released an updated revision of its revolutionary streaming home theater device, the 2nd generation Apple TV, powered by the Apple A4 processor.

  • With such small dimensions, 0.9" x 3.9" x 3.9", and a mere weight of 0.6 lbs, no wonder it's been dubbed "The Puck."

  • As a rare treat, Apple has decided to bundle an Apple Remote with the Apple TV.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The backside of the Apple TV:

    • HDMI output port

    • Optical audio out port

    • 10/100 Base Ethernet port

    • AC adapter port

    • Micro-USB (for service and support)

  • 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.

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • The 2nd Generation Apple TV has a rated 0.3 amp current draw. That's only 20% of the amperage drawn by its square unibody cousin, the Mac Mini. Once we get inside, the internal power supply should tell us its real draw.

  • Apple has branded the model number as A1378.

  • Check out all those scratches near the power socket! They were the result of wiping off dust with a microfiber cleaning cloth, so it's no surprise that the Apple TV is shipped with a strip of black tape stuck around its perimeter. Presumably, Apple used low density plastic for the case to aid in the transmission of infrared, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals at the expense of scratch resistance.

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Like many Apple devices, the Apple TV has no visible screws. So of course the first thing we did was shove a couple metal spudgers between the rubber-coated base and the upper case.

  • The base pops right off after some careful prying.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • And just like that, the 2nd Generation Apple TV is open.

  • The large pink square near the center of the device is actually a thermal pad. We wonder why Apple chose to conduct heat to a plastic surface -- maybe a metal base was too expensive?

  • We're pretty sure that this thing will not produce much heat.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • We remove the first three visible #1 Phillips screws, only to find the metal heat sink being held in place by something else.

  • A bit of sleuthing revealed another two #1 Phillips screws under the thermal pad. Sneaky Apple!

  • The other side of the cover features another thermal pad. We feel this may be a trend...

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • After disconnecting the power supply and status LED cables, the logic board is ready to come out.

  • Now, a couple pesky EMI shields are all that stand between us and the "goods."

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Here's something interesting that one of the commenters pointed out: 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 connectors shy of a full-on computer. Perhaps this logic board will be used in future iPads?

  • Apple engineers likely used a dock connector to debug the Apple TV while it was in development.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • What is this? A Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8GB NAND Flash chip?

  • Why, yes it is. It's the same part we found during the iPad teardown! This is a pretty remarkable amount of storage for a $99 device.

  • We are pretty sure the Sammy is used to cache your favorite shows while they're being streamed.

  • But we wonder, "What else you could do with 8 GB of exploitable storage?"

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Wi-Fi board brought to you courtesy of Panasonic! This may be the first time we've seen a Wi-Fi board from Panasonic in an Apple device. They usually provide optical drives for Apple's laptops.

  • Apple may have gone with an off-the-shelf commodity daughterboard to reduce costs.

  • The Broadcom BCM4329XKUBG 802.11n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chip on the Panasonic board is exactly the same as the one we found on the iPad.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • The key marking of interest on the A4 processor package is K4X2G643GE. This is identical to the marking found on the iPad and 4th Generation iPod Touch, but different from the iPhone 4 processor.

  • The Apple TV has 256 MB RAM, the same as the iPad and 4th Gen iPod Touch. We weren't expecting Apple to bump up the RAM, but it's a bit of a relief for app developers that the amount hasn't been reduced.

  • The rest of the contenders:

    • Apple 343S0479 1005 005BB

    • M430 F2350 TI E03K C0GP G4 (16-bit microcontroller)

    • SMSC 8710A-EZK B1023-A2 (10/100 Ethernet Transceiver)

    • TXC MUGT 27.000

    • TXCPCUM3 50.000

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • The board. It's difficult to see some of the chip information because the silkscreen came off along with the thermal pads.

  • Here's an idea of where all the chips reside in relation to one another:

  • Apple A4 Processor

  • Samsung NAND Flash

  • Empty spot for another Samsung NAND Flash???

  • Apple 338S0891

  • Broadcom BCM4329XKUBG

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • There goes the power supply...

  • 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! Is this the most eco-friendly set-top box ever?

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Next comes out the status LED. Its current status: disconnected.

  • 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.

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Apple TV Repairability: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • Relatively easy to open case that can be easily reassembled.

    • Separate power supply board that can be replaced independently of the logic board.

    • Simple design - there's 6 pieces!

    • Relatively common fasteners (Phillips and T6 Torx) found throughout.

    • Thermal pads rather than thermal paste means no messy cleanup.

    • Lots of expensive electronics housed on one singular board means that if one fries, the board is toast unless you can attempt or know how to do component level repair.

  • 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!

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Comments Comments are onturn off

I would love to see the Apple Tv 2 remote tear down

scottrape, · Reply

The description didn't list what appears to be a mini-USB port under the HDMI. That *is* a USB port, isn't it?

Gavin McKenzie, · Reply

Has anyone noticed how the pads by the HDMI connector look like ones for a VGA port? Same alignment.

Richard Birch, · Reply

Isn't that dock connector more like service connector - for flashing firmware, bootloaders etc.. like in other iOS devices?

Amadeusz Juskowiak, · Reply

It was probably used during development. Why bother with a JTAG port and some one-off development hardware or toolchain when Apple has already invested countless hours, engineers and dollars into its Xcode/iOS-based dev environment? This is even easier than debugging over Ethernet, which is what a lot of new set-top devices and current game consoles do. Recycling the dock connector even saves them having to come up with a new mechanical interface for the task.

Kuy Mainwaring,

Someone should try to solder a dock connector to the logic board and see what happens when connected to itunes.

Zach,

It has been noted elsewhere(1) that you can use the Mini-USB to connect to iTunes, making the 30-pin connect redundant unless some other '30-pin' feature (e.g.: TV-Out) is supported.

1. Engadget Article

VaughnSC, · Reply

Analog audio output would be nice via the dock connector. Maybe even the serial lines acting as a console terminal.. just dreaming :-)

ozel,

Bluetooth?! So why use an IR remote? (Cost I suppose.) But perhaps they'll make it available should Apple TV apps come along.

Mitch Cohen, · Reply

It's probably way easier (and cheaper) to stuff the inherently small circuitry for an IR transmitter inside the ultra thin Apple remote rather than Bluetooth equipment.

Andrew Bookholt,

Using Bluetooth in the remote would increase power consumption considerably - the CR2032 battery only has 10% the energy of the batteries in the Apple keyboard, for example, and it's non-rechargeable. Besides, any benefits of Bluetooth would be lost because consumers have been trained for decades to point remotes for line-of-sight operation anyway.

Kuy Mainwaring,

IR is more easy to use than bluetooth, you have not to synchronize.

Maito,

Plus, backwards compatibility. Apple has been making IR remotes for years. A new bluetooth remote would be cool, but being unable to connect to my old IR remotes would me me angry.

Alex Jansen,

No antenna cable?

Luca, · Reply

have an antenna in the PCB

Maito,

Where is the wifi antenna and is there a Bluetooth antenna, if so where is it located?

Michael, · Reply

On the main circuit board towards the front of the case - look at the photo's - the track that curves away from the WiFi boards RF socket

Paul,

is that chip prepared to connect keyboard/mouse via BT? IMHO aTV SDK is coming... keyboard&mouse is coming

matlosz pl, · Reply

The Chip M430 F2350 TI E03K C0GP G4 might be a TI MSP430 Microcontroller.

http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/pr...

The Package could be a VQFN-40.

Maybe it is used for decoding the IR Signal

no way, · Reply

@iFixit: "Empty spot for another Samsung NAND Flash?"

Yes, the format of the pins on the board correspond to an ULGA NAND Flash IC.

http://www.samsung.com/global/business/s...

Cristian Flores, · Reply

Look at these five pins, loks like USB pins, and it are called Jxxxx like other connectors.

Maito, · Reply

As commented before, the board will not be a iPad 2G 7-inch 16 GB (for the empty place of Samsung chip). Greetings from Argentina

PS: Sorry for the translation of Google translator, I do not speak much English.

Nasher87, · Reply

While the output of the PSU is only 6 watts, the psu will draw up to 33 watts from a US 110v outlet. Still not bad.

TuxRug, · Reply

I doubt it, there is no way it would be that inefficient.

- Power input specs will be worst case, ie current drawn spec will be the turn on power, it'll quickly drop.

If it really drew 33W, (constant) the thing would quickly melt, it has no fan or vents!

Paul,

I don't think that's the Power Status LED - I think it is the IR photodiode for the remote control?

Ebo, · Reply

I believe you're right? Could it be both?

Erick Smith,

Like most high tech these days, only repairable to board level, although the WiFi module may be replaceable.

As it is only $99, they probably won't repair them, or keep spares, so the only options are the WiFi board, connectors, and maybe the power supply (to component level that is), otherwise, over the shoulder..

Now if only someone can figure out how to get 'normal' audio & video out of it then a lot more people will be interested.

Paul, · Reply

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