Earlier today Patently Apple discovered a patent application filing that listed one of Apple's leading product design engineers. The patent application was published under its inventor's names as a means of avoiding being published under Apple's name at the US Patent Office. Legally speaking, Apple only has to appear as the assignee after the patent application has been granted. This is a somewhat common practice that Apple uses to keep specific intellectual property out of the lime light until the last possible moment. The discovery today covers a rather simple invention. It's about providing Apple TV with a much larger heat sink. Today's Apple TV supports a 32-bit single-core A5 processor. But if Apple should ever decide to adopt their faster A7 or future A8 64-bit single or multi-core processors to support gaming, it would need a larger heat sink. In context, last Wednesday iFixit uncovered a larger heat sink in Amazon's new Fire TV that's aiming at Android gaming. The trend is obvious.
Amazon's Massive Fire TV Heat Sink
Amazon's Fire TV has a massive heat sink as you can see below. The graphic comes via iFixit's recent tear down.
Apple Invention Illustrates Larger Apple TV Heat Sink
Apple states that "the heat sink within the electronic device may be used to dissipate heat from the internal components. The heat sink may have a vertical wall portion adjacent to at least one of the hooks and snaps to help prevent the hooks and snaps from becoming disengaged when electronic device is subjected to a drop event." The size of the heat sink illustrated in Apple's patent application as compared to today's model clearly shows the use of a larger heat sink covering a much larger area.
Apple notes that the "Heat sink #34 may be mounted within the housing using adhesive, heat stake structures (see, e.g., heat stakes #38), metal support members (e.g., threaded metal structures #36 for receiving threaded fasteners such as screws that screw printed circuit boards and other structures to heat sink #34), and/or other suitable fastening mechanisms. Openings such as corner opening #42 and recesses such as shallow rectangular recess #40 or recesses of other shapes may be formed in the heat sink."
Whether Apple actually has a plan to extend Apple TV to take on video gaming has been the talk for some time now. Apple has even illustrated a wireless game controller in a 2012 patent application. So we know that they've been preparing for such an extension for some time, especially in light of redesigning their A7 processor to being 64-bit. It's a lure that Amazon can't match because the Android OS isn't 64bit ready. Adding 64-bit is certainly Apple ringing a new doorbell and many think it's for future gaming.
The new larger heat sink design discovered in a patent application filed by Apple engineers is just another piece of the puzzle regarding a possible future gaming component for Apple TV. Though as always, only time will tell. Here's to hoping that Amazon's new Fire TV will put a little fire in Apple's belly to expedite their gaming plans for Apple TV.
The patent application that was filed by Apple engineers was published in Q1 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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