Apple’s third-generation Apple TV is almost identical to its predecessor — both inside and out — but it’s now capable of playing full, high-definition video in 1080p. So what does it have that the second-generation set-top box doesn’t?
Well, according to a teardown performed by one XBMC.org forum member, the new Apple TV has double the RAM — packing 512MB instead of 256MB — and a unique A5 single-core processor that replaces the A4 chip.
At a glance, the new CPU looks just like the dual-core A5 processor featured in the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S. However, it does feature a different model number; APL2498 as opposed to APL0498. It’s likely Apple designed this unique chip to maintain the Apple TV’s $99 price tag. If the company had have just introduced the dual-core A5 chip instead, the device may have cost us more.
It’s that new CPU, coupled with the additional RAM, that allows the new Apple TV to handle 1080p video, while its predecessor maxes out at 720p. Storage remains the same at 8GB, but this is used simply for buffering content, with all of your media being streamed to the device as opposed to being stored on it.
MacRumors also notes that the new device also features a second antenna that wasn’t featured in the last Apple TV. It’s unclear at this point how this is being used to improve performance.
Have you upgraded your Apple TV yet, or are you happy with content at 720p?