The iPod Hardware

The iPod Hardware

Apple’s iPod has come a long way since its initial launch, when it was called as the first generation iPod. Today, the latest fifth generation iPod has video capabilities and is a fully featured media player. A brief overview of the iPod hardware through its various generations is given below. This is followed by the latest 5G iPod hardware specifications, and the rumored hard disk of the next generation iPod.

Chipsets And Electronics


First to third generation iPod –
Two ARM 7TDMI-derived CPUs running at 90 MHz.

Fourth to fifth generation iPod, iPod mini, iPod nano first generation –
Variable-speed ARM 7TDMI CPUs, running at a peak of 80 MHz to save battery life.

Second generation iPod nano –
Samsung System-On-Chip, based around an ARM processor

First generation iPod shuffle –
SigmaTel STMP3550 chip that handles both the music decoding and the audio circuitry

Storage medium

First to fifth generation iPod –
1.8 inch hard drives (ATA, 4200 rpm with proprietary connectors) made by Toshiba
iPod mini –
1 inch Microdrives manufactured by Hitachi and Seagate

iPod nano –
Flash memory from Samsung, Toshiba, and others.

iPod shuffle –
Flash memory

Audio chip
Audio codecs developed by Wolfson Microelectronics are used by all iPods with the sole exception of the shuffle iPod

First and second generation iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle – Internal lithium polymer batteries
Third to fifth generation iPod – Internal lithium-ion batteries


FireWire: For updating songs or recharging the battery, FireWire connection was originally used to connect to the host computer.

AC Adapter: The battery of the first four generations of iPods could be recharged with an AC adapter that was supplied along with the iPod.

Dock Connector: This was introduced with the third generation. With the dock connector, both FireWire and USB connections were possible. As most of the computers did not have FireWire ports during that time, the dock connector provided a convenient means of connecting to the host computer via the USB port. However, the battery could not be recharged via the USB port; hence, FireWire cables were also needed to connect to the AC Adapter for charging the battery. With the dock connector, opportunities to exchange data and sound with an iPod increased tremendously. This created a large market of accessories mainly manufactured by third parties like Griffin Technology, Belkin, JBL, Bose, Monster Cable, and SendStation. Apple also produced many accessories.

3.5 mm Jack: With the introduction of the second generation of the iPod shuffle, this connector was used. A single 3.5 mm jack doubled as a data port for the dock connector and also as a headphone jack.

USB: The fourth generation iPod and the iPod mini allowed recharging the battery via the USB port. The FireWire cables were no longer supplied and the USB cables replaced them. However, FireWire cables were available separately should any user require them. With the advent of the fifth generation iPod, the data could be transferred using the USB 2.0 connection, and thus Apple totally discontinued the use of FireWire and made a full transition to USB 2.0. However, FireWire cables were available for connecting to the dock connector for recharging, if any user so desired.

The Latest 5G iPod Hardware Specifications

Manufacturer: Apple Inc.

Type: Digital Media Player

Connectivity: USB 2.0
FireWire (charging only)

Retail Availability: October 12, 2005-present

Operating System: iPod 5G 1.2.1 (as of December 2006)

Camera: None

Media: 30, 60, and 80 GB Toshiba hard disk

Input: Click wheel

Power: Lithium ion battery

CPU: PortalPlayer 5021C-TDF
Broadcom VideoCore BCM2722 (DSP)

Display: 320×240, 2.5″ in diagonal

Dimensions: 30 GB Model: 103.50×61.80×11.00 mm
60 GB/80 GB Models: 103.50×61.80×14.00 mm

Touchpad: Yes

Hard disk for the next generation iPod?

It is rumored that the upcoming models of iPods would feature a Toshiba 100GB 1.8-inch hard disk (model MK1011GAH), spinning at 4200rpm. In this size, this is the largest capacity hard disk to be ever produced. Although no official announcement from either Apple or Toshiba has been made, yet it is widely understood that the next generation of iPod will feature this hard disk.


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