Feeds

Is the Mac Mini Apple's future 'smart' iPod Dock?

Probe points to integrated player port

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Was the Mac Mini originally intended to sport an integrated iPod Dock? That's the suggestion made by one electronics specialist who's taken a closer look than most at the compact Mac's internal workings.

The Apple machine's optical drive connects to the motherboard not by a cable but is attached directly to an Ultra ATA-100 riser card which itself fits into a slot toward the rear of the Mini's mobo. According to Leo Bodnar, the guy who figured out how to overclock the Mini's G4-class CPU, that's not all the riser does.

Apparently, it's got a Firewire bus on there too, though there's no connection beyond the riser card itself. In addition to the ATA-100 lines that feed the optical drive, the riser has a connector pinout that takes the Firewire signal and provides a number of other lines, whose functions remain unknown but are likely to carry extra control signals, Leo believes.

The Mini's Agere FW8028 Firewire controller, mounted on the underside of the motherboard, connects direclty to the riser card slot, itself installed on the top of the mobo.

Website Mini-ITX.com has some good Mini mobo pics here.

Leo's hypothesis: that the riser was designed to feed an iPod Dock connector moulded into the device's top cover. He notes that there's a fair bit of empty space behind the riser and above the Mini's output ports, though this could simply be part of the computer's cooling system.

Whether the Firewire feature was dropped from the first incarnation, or was put in place ready for the Mac's next revision isn't clear. However, early rumours surrounding the so-called "headless iMac" that was to become the Mac Mini, did indeed mention an integrated iPod Dock, fitted to help encourage Windows-using iPod owners to switch to the Mac platform,

Maybe it didn't feel the time was right. Certainly then Apple was still bundling a Dock with most of its iPods. Following the product line's recent update, however, no player now ships with a Dock as standard - they are only offered as optional extras. That now makes an Mini-integrated Dock more attractive to new customers, suggesting to us that a future revision of the computer might well include such a feature. ®

Related stories

Sony Ericsson launches 'Walkman'
Music download prices to rise
Bars hold iPod nights for iDrunk DJs
Apple revs iPod, cuts prices
Moto exec drops AirPod hint
Apple resists mobile MP3 ambush
Sony preps 'iPod killer' - again

Related reviews

Apple Mac Mini
Apple 15in PowerBook G4
Bose SoundDock iPod speakers
Apple iPod Shuffle

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.