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Pricey Apple Thunderbolt cable inner chippery exposed

40 quid for wires... and 12 chips

Want to know why Apple is charging £39 - $50 in the US - for its Thunderbolt cable?

For once it's not entirely the company's price-high-for-fanboys policy - the cable is an active transmitter.

Apple's Thunderbolt cable

Apple's Thunderbolt cable: on the outside...

The kit disassemblers at have found that the cable, which connects Macs to peripherals using Intel's new high-speed - two independent channels of 10Gb/s each - bus, contains rather more chippery than you'd see in your average cord.

Inside Apple's Thunderbolt cable
Inside Apple's Thunderbolt cable

...and on the inside

There are six chips at either end of the cable, but the grunt work is done by two of chip-maker Gennum's cable-oriented GN2033 Thunderbolt transceivers.

Essentially, these boys and the supporting parts ensure the 2m of wiring - 3m is the max - in between don't attenuate the signal so far that the data transfer speed plunges.

All this means that the cable is also powered - for the chips, if not the external device. Thunderbolt muxes PCI Express bus data and DisplayPort traffic then separates them out at the other end. ®

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