Thanks to the FCC process of posting preliminary testing and specifications of new electronic products on its website, some sharp-eyed bloggers noticed this week that a new AppleTV is on the way. In the past, Apple has often released multiple iOS products in the same rough timeframe; this news falls alongside the release of the new 128GB iPad, plus new parts indicating a redesigned iPad 5. According to the preliminary specifications, the new AppleTV is ever so slightly smaller than the current model – instead of measuring 98mm on a side, it’s only a hair under 94mm.
Just because the box is smaller, don’t think it’s going to be any less capable. Thanks to some in-depth sleuthing by the folks over at AnandTech, it seems a sure thing that inside of the tinier AppleTV is also a new CPU – which, until recently, was one of Cupertino’s most powerful. While the current generation AppleTV runs a flavor of iOS on a dual-core (with one core disabled) Apple A5 CPU, the new model uses the same SoC found inside of the iPad 3, the Apple A5X.
The A5X has the same CPU as the prior generation, but a much improved GPU. It’s difficult to say why Apple is choosing to use the A5X CPU in the new AppleTV; are they using up a bunch of spare chips they’d ordered for inclusion in the now defunct iPad 3? A slight change in the software for the AppleTV implies that the new CPU may be a die-shrink of the older generation, from a 45 to a 32nm process (which could save 40% of the die area over the older model).
In that case, it seems like a planned release; and yet, the cause for updating the model so soon – the third generation will have been on the market for a year in March – remains mysterious. There is no current technical reason for increasing the computational prowess of the little black box, which leads many to wonder if this update will be the one to finally bring Apple’s iOS apps, or even Siri, to the burgeoning smart TV world.
While opening the living room up to Apple’s army of developers sounds like an incredible idea, it may yet be wishful thinking. Apple hasn’t scheduled any sort of press events or press conferences around the release, and making a huge change like this would necessitate such a show. It’s entirely possible, however, that Apple is going to silently, or mostly silently, push the updated AppleTV into stores, then wait to discuss any major software changes at WWDC in June.