Teardown of Apple’s Thunderbolt Cable Reveals New Details

Apple Thunderbolt Cable Firmware

A teardown of Apple’s Thunderbolt cable from iFixIt revealed why Apple placed a hefty pricetag of $50 on the cable. Usually, Apple’s cables range anywhere from $19 to $29 and are on the cheaper end of price, but the latest creation, the Thunderbolt cable is much more than meets the eye.

A report published by  Arstechnica, noted that the Thunderbolt cable is a “smart” or “active” cable that contains circuitry and firmware, hence the large sum required to purchase it. iFixIt’s tear down found two Gennum GN2033 chips in the connector, one on each side. Other support chips and resistors were also found for total of 12 chips and many smaller electronic components.

All of these expensive components are required in order for the cable to operate with the high speed that it is built for and ultimately may be the obstacle in the way for widespread Thunderbolt adoption. Gennum’s chip was tested and is described to be a transceiver that allows “reliable data transfer at cutting-edge speeds over low cost, thin-gauge copper cables.”

The Thunderbolt drive shows an 11x improvement over the FireWire 800 and is much more reliable and easily adoptable than other types of drives. The active, or “Smart” cabling in the current Thunderbolt ports found in the iMac and Macbook Pros show that it will be compatible with future Thunderbolt cables.

…the port you’ll find in new MacBook Pros and storage devices can actually take an optical cable when those are cost-effective enough to roll out, because Intel will eventually bake the optical transceivers into the cables themselves.

Intel plans to upgrade to optical cabling in the future and converge older ports and cables to work as one. Apple’s Thunderbolt technology, produced with the help of Intel has the ability to become the next major standard of data transfer cables and could be widely adopted by this time next year.

Currently, the iMac and Macbook Pros are the only hardware in Apple’s lineup to feature Thunderbolt technology. Apple has not yet revealed any future Thunderbolt plans for it’s computers, although it is likely that it will be integrated into the new white Macbook.

Do you think the Tunderbolt cable is worth $50? Have you already bought one? Sound off in the comments below!

Image Credit: Arstechnica

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  • Paul

    Worth a $50 spend! Transferred 15GB of data in 10 minutes!

    • http://touchreviews.net TouchReviews

      15GB in 10 minutes is great!