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Apple Thunderbolt cable teardown shows processing power

updated 08:05 pm EDT, Wed June 29, 2011

Thunderbolt cable torn down by iFixit

An uncommon teardown of Apple's new Thunderbolt cable has confirmed that the $49 price comes from the quality of the components Apple needs. iFixit found that Gennum GN2033 chips are in place at each to handle the data traffic and make it an active cable, not just a passive relay. Ten additional chips are also in place for unknown purposes but which help add to the price.

Gennum's hardware is designed to guarantee "reliable" speed on copper wiring like that current Thunderbolt cables use. Future Thunderbolt cables will eventually have the option of optical cabling that doesn't carry power and might require another chip.

The components may not be completely necessary to use Thunderbolt but could make Apple's cables better than some alternatives and important to reaching its goals. Thunderbolt's support for daisy-chaining and mixing both displays as well as data may make a consistent speed important.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's a tactic.

    By making the cable expensive they recoup development costs off the early adopters and goad all the cable manufacturers into racing to be the first to undercut them.

  1. Tralthamidor

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think that cable has more processing power than my Apple IIe...

  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    An extension of earlier Apple (and NeXT) cabling i

    Apple and NeXT both went this way before -- make the subsystem intelligent so that the performance of I/O isn't dependent on whether the CPU is fast enough to keep up with both peripherals and the OS. Such a design provides superior performance (as anyone who did significant amounts of video capture on both Firewire and USB 2 can testify) but it means the components have to be expensive, so the consumer market never goes for it. The thinking is, approximately, who cares if you lose every hundredth frame of video capture, or use 10% of your CPU just thinking about external hard drives, if you can buy a generic cable for a quarter of the price and the necessary expansion card costs $5 less?

    This sort of thing is why humanity is doomed. :P

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