Can the two-year-old Apple TV product still compete with the 2014 Amazon Fire TV? Teardown.com prices it out.
At the time of launch, Apple TV's connectivity, which included WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, and 10/100 Ethernet, had a higher initial cost than the Fire TV. But leveraging new technology from the past 24 months, the Fire TV incorporates a much faster and more expensive Qualcomm Atheros QCA6234 MIMO WiFi solution.
MIMO is important because it allows the simultaneous use of two or more transmit/receive channels to boost throughout data rates. The QCA6234 is a 2 x 2 (2 transmit/2 receive) MIMO part.
While Apple TV contained a Broadcom BCM4330 based Universal Scientific Industries (USI) WiFi/Bluetooth module that did not contain MIMO, Broadcom has not been sitting still. Its BCM4354 WiFi/Bluetooth/FM radio part is 2 x 2 MIMO capable and now in production. It is likely that the BCM4354 or a module containing it will be found in the next generation of Apple TV.
Nonvolatile memory (NAND)
Both units come with 8 GB of MLC NAND flash. While Teardown.com priced the Apple TV memory at $1.60 (higher than Fire TV), current costing for the same memory is less expensive. Both Apple and Amazon source their NAND flash from Toshiba, which, barring any volume pricing implications, should have them at cost parity at a given point in time.
Volatile memory (SDRAM)
The Apple TV comes with 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM, while the Fire TV came equipped with 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM. The cost, which again is at the time of teardown, has the Apple TV's cost approximately $1.50 higher than Fire TV at $4.54. In 2014, we expect Apple to be paying closer to $2.40 for this memory part. This would make it $2.00 cheaper than Fire TV's memory.
It is notable to remark that, by going from 512 MB to 2GB, Amazon will have faster response time to new apps, as well as receiving a boost to streaming and playing the latest HD content. This jump further amplifies the readily available memory IC choice by product vendors today.