Tweaked Apple TV Offers 'Significant' but Nearly Invisible Power Savings With More Efficient Chip Designs

Following Chipworks' examination of the new A5 chip found in Apple's tweaked Apple TV, AnandTech has performed its own analysis of the device. While many of the A5 chip details have already been covered, AnandTech focuses more on the device as a whole, and interestingly finds that the internal changes have yielded a significant decrease in power consumption compared to its predecessor.

The power savings are nothing short of significant. The previous generation Apple TV wasn’t really a power hog, with platform power maxing out at around 1.6W, but the new model tops out at just a watt. Overall the power savings seem to be around 800mW across the board.

With no change to process technology, I can only assume that the reduction in power consumption came from other architectural or silicon optimizations.

apple_tv_3_power_consumption
Of course, AnandTech also notes that the power savings are essentially invisible to users given how little power the set-top box used to begin with.

Assuming you’re using the Apple TV for watching video 8 hours a day, every day of the year, you’d save about $0.26 per year on your power bill (assuming $0.11/kWh). You’d break even on the $99 cost of a new Apple TV in about 385 years. Maybe by then we’ll actually have a true replacement to cable TV.

AnandTech also measured Wi-Fi performance on the tweaked Apple TV given that Apple has moved to a new Broadcom Wi-Fi chip and gone back to a one-antenna layout from the two-antenna configuration used in the previous model. Testing revealed that Wi-Fi range and performance is essentially identical between the old and new hardware.

Apple's reasons for introducing a brand-new chip design for the relatively low-volume Apple TV remain unclear, with AnandTech summarizing some of the recent speculation that Apple may be trying to shave costs by stripping out unnecessary components of the A5 or testing the new chip ahead of a broader rollout in other products.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

WestonHarvey1 Avatar
110 months ago
AnandTech and MacRumors if they are quoting this just don't get it. These power savings are significant. Every little bit helps and it all ads up in the end. The smart people out there will notice this and be thankful for it.
It's pennies a year. Not even worth considering.

You'd save more money by spending a couple extra seconds thinking about what you want to eat before opening the refrigerator door.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
marvz Avatar
110 months ago
...iWatch...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CIA Avatar
110 months ago
On a person by person basis, no the power savings are not that much. BUT, spread over several million devices, it does add up to a greater good. Kudos Apple.


Also I agree this is probably a testbed for something Apple has in the pipeline.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
XIIIDzY Avatar
110 months ago
After doing some quick math...

.26 cents a year times 2 million people is a saving of over $500,000 in power consumption.

So like you all are saying, I'm just putting some numbers behind the large scale.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
110 months ago
Clearly just a testbed for something else. Exciting!
My thought as well. Running iOS with Wi-Fi enabled at less than 1W is a big feat, pair that with Bluetooth 4.0 and it could be useful for the rumored iWatch.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CIA Avatar
110 months ago
We have 3 ATV's at home. The two co-owners at my job combined have 7.

Problem is, how much energy did it take to R&D, manufacture, transport, stock, and sell these units. If the world swapped to all new ATVs and saved energy, would it make up for all the energy used during the making of this product? Probably not. So while we may think we are being 'greener', have we really?

If you go by this logic there's no reason to make anything more efficient.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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