iFixit tears down Thunderbolt cable, reveals active parts

As with just about any new Apple product release, iFixit has torn apart the Thunderbolt cable. Why a boring cable?  iFixit has revealed that the new Thunderbolt cable actually has active chips inside, making transfers  faster.

We found two Gennum GN2033 chips in the connector, one on each side. They were flanked by other, much smaller chips that surely added to the cable’s cost: two chips labeled S6A 1JG on one side, and chips labeled 1102F SS8370 and 131 3S on the other. Of course, there were tons of little resistors (providing impedance as needed) all around the larger chips.

Thunderbolt’s release on MacBook Pros and iMacs should be followed by new Macs coming soon. Inside the cable chip housing below Read more

New MacBook Airs with OS X Lion, Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge in mid-July

Apple’s new MacBook Air line has been expected for weeks now, with evidence supporting a refresh coming by way of constraints at global retailers and most recently at major Apple reseller BestBuy.com. Although this refresh has been expected, a well-sourced and specific launch time frame is yet to emerge. Now, we’ve been told that Apple is gearing up to launch their upgraded line of ultra thin notebooks in mid-July.

The rumors regarding what the new laptops will feature have been conservative, and according to a person who has seen the new MacBook Air, exterior changes (if any) were so minute that they were not noticed. In other words, don’t expect to be able to tell this mid-2011 MacBook Air apart from the late-2010 model. That is, except for the Thunderbolt logo that sits in place of the Mini Display port logo.

Also, as expected, these new models will pack Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and are likely the models that Intel recently made available for thinner notebook lines:

  • Core i7-2677M: 2 cores, 1.8GHz (turbos to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $317
  • Core i7-2637M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $289
  • Core i5-2557M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, 17 watts, $250

In addition, the new notebooks, launching in mid-July, come with OS X Lion pre-installed. Apple shipping out their next-generation operating system with these new Macs would also mean a mid-July launch for 10.7 Lion. An exact release date for both products is yet to be pinpointed, but we’ve been hearing rumblings about July 14th, which is a Thursday.

Also, Apple is holding their financial results conference call on Tuesday, July 19th. Apple typically releases products during the days leading up to the financial results announcement (so they have something interesting to talk about). iPhones and iPads often are released the Friday before earnings, which would be the 15th.

Of course, Apple’s traditional product launch day is Tuesday, which would be the 12th or the 19th. In any case, we’re looking at Lion and new MacBook Airs in about 2-3 weeks. We are also looking, according to recent reports, at new Mac minis and Mac Pros soon after these upgraded MacBook Airs.

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Apple selling Promise Thunderbolt products alongside Mac Pros

As we broke last night, Apple is now carrying Thunderbolt parts. The Pegasus RAID units just showed up but we noticed something a little odd:

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Interesting combo.  Currently the Mac Pro doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port.

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So yeah, Apple art team either jumped the gun, used the wrong equipment, or pre-announced the new Mac Pros.  We were hoping for a slight redesign which doesn’t look to be the case (see what I did there?)… Read more

Apple releases $49 Thunderbolt cable for data transfers and displays

Apple is set to release their own accessory for data transfers and display connections between Thunderbolt Macs. The accessory is coming in the form of a cable with both ends featuring connectors for the Thunderbolt I/O port. As we already know, this port is the same size as the Mini Display ports on current and past generation Macs.

These Thunderbolt cables are perfect for data migration between Thunderbolt Macs (currently the iMac and MacBook Pro) as well as for display connections. Although Apple’s LED Display supports Thunderbolt Macs, this new cable might be a hint at a new Apple LED Display with a Thunderbolt port. Perhaps today’s Thunderbolt update has something to do with the new cord.

Additionally, this new cable comes ahead of new MacBook Airs, Mac minis, and Mac Pro with Thunderbolt I/O in the coming weeks.

Thanks, Mr. X!

Update: Apple has officially released the new cable. It’s $55 AU, £3,9.00 in the UK, and… $49 in the U.S.

Thunderbolt technology supports blazing-fast data transfer with two independent channels of 10Gbit/s each. Use the Apple Thunderbolt cable to connect your Thunderbolt-equipped peripherals to your new iMac or new MacBook Pro.

Apple Thunderbolt cable can also be used for Target Disk Mode between two Macs that support Thunderbolt, or to use a new iMac as a display for a MacBook Pro equipped with Thunderbolt.

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Sony debuts Light Peak product in Europe with external GPU

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

More shots below: Read more

All new Mac Pros and upgraded Mac minis with Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt in early August?

CNET’s Brian Tong claims that Apple is gearing up to launch a revamped Mac Pro and an upgraded Mac mini in either late July or early August – more likely in August. Details are scarce on what this “next-gen” Mac Pro holds, but if what 9to5Mac has previously been told is showing up in these 2011 models, we’ll be seeing a smaller, rackmountable design that can hold multiple solid-state-drives. Lending credence to the report are shortages of the Mac Pro server model.

EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me ALL NEW Next-Gen Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch either end of July first week of August.

The Mac minis are said to be receiving the Thunderbolt I/O and Sandy Bridge Processor treatment, which the MacBook Pro and iMac families received earlier this year. Summer 2010 was the scene of a major Mac mini redesign, so those hoping for an all new Mac mini should wait a couple of refreshes. Mac minis (and Mac mini servers – on Amazon as well) are currently short on supply (thanks, Mr. X!). Separately, we’ve been hearing independently that Apple is gearing up to release upgraded MacBook Airs – we should have our own details on that soon.

August more likely, Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt on both. NO details for specs or configurations given. DO NOT BUY! WAIT for the new Macs!

Tong’s tweets also say that these upgraded Macs will be packed with Lion at first boot. Tong says that the source of the new Mac Pro and Mac mini information is the same source that correctly predicted an early May launch for the new iMacs. The iMac ended up being updated on May 3rd with Thunderbolt ports and faster Sandy Bridge processors from Intel.

Also in the pipeline are new AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules.

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BlackMagic demos UltraStudio 3D capture box with two Thunderbolt ports

Third-parties are prepping new Thunderbolt products ahead of the upcoming Final Cut Pro X release. Japanese site Macotakara.jp got a chance to play with Blackmagic Design’s UltraStudio 3D, a Thunderbolt-enabled 3D capture and playback for SD, HDMI and analog. Although BlackMagic’s site lists the device as having one Thunderbolt port, the unit on display has two ports. Engineers apparently haven’t yet made the final decision on that. The above clip shows a cool portable editing solution consisting of an early-2011 17-inch MacBook Pro, an UltraStudio 3D box, a Promise R6 Pegasus RAID and a Video-422 deck controller.

The rig works in perfect harmony, allowing for video recording to the Pegasus RAID with real-time previews on an external display and real-time video effects in 2K and 3D. The same site noted Tuesday that Final Cut Pro X would be available next week. Apple announced the video editing suite revision back in April at the NAB show, confirming that the software would be available in July via the Mac App Store at a reduced price of just $299.

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Apple updating Apple Store displays on Tuesday night; new product launch on Wednesday? (updated)

Sources have told 9to5Mac that Apple will be holding one of their retail store overnights on Tuesday. Since Apple has a flurry of upcoming product releases, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Apple will be releasing – if anything, on Wednesday, June 15th. We first heard about this last week and figured it was OS X Lion related, but now that new chatter has arisen and now that we know Lion is coming in July, we feel it is the right to time to rundown Wednesday’s new possibilities.

The first item on the list would be new MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt I/O. Digitimes and CNET have said that the new Airs are coming in either June or July and ChronicWire says they are coming this Wednesday. We have since heard from a source that there are still some current generation MacBook Airs shipping to retail stores across the world into the next couple of weeks. Because of our own independent information, we doubt a new MacBook Air launch for Wednesday. It does make sense though based on the scheduled retail overnight.

Next would be servers. We were first to report that Mac Pro and Mac mini server models are at the constraint stage for supplies, and since then we have been told that supplies have diminished even more with no more current generation models coming through to retail channels. Also, Time Capsules and Airport Extremes are showing the constraint status.

Additionally, sources tell 9to5Mac that Tuesday’s overnight may be related to Apple removing parts of their rumored-be-disappearing software wall. At this point, we are unsure of what is exactly going down Wednesday. It could be new MacBook Airs, Mac minis, Mac Pros, Servers, AirPorts, Time Capsules, or absolutely nothing related to a major product release. We’ll let you know when we hear more.

Update: Wednesday could be related to Apple’s annual Back to School promotion.

Update 2: Another source says that some of the new visuals pertain to the Teach for America Foundation. This is the same foundation that Apple is promoting the donation of iPads toward. This “teaching” theme may or may not confirm the start of the Back to School promotion on Wednesday.

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LaCie demos 835MB/s uncompressed HD streams via 5 daisy-chained Little Big Disks, courtesy of Thunderbolt

If you thought linking an external storage to a Cinema Display over a single Thunderbolt cable was cool, check out Thunderbolt edition of LaCie’s Little Big Disk. This nice-looking drive would pass as an everyday external storage if it weren’t for its Thunderbolt interface that Apple and Intel jointly developed. You can daisy-chain five of these via Thunderbolt, link them to a high-end display and still move data in and out at breakneck-speeds. Slashgear reports about a little demo LaCie showed off at Computex:

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Rumor: Apple has an A5-powered MacBook Air with Thunderbolt I/O in labs. What’s the big picture?


Apple’s custom-built A5 chip currently powers iPad 2 and is expected to make its way into next-gen iPhone, iPod touch and Apple TV

Japanese blog Macotakara, which accurately outlined some of the iPad 2 features, in its latest story claims that an A5-powered MacBook Air with Thunderbolt I/O is being tested in Apple’s labs. The machine could be manufactured by Quanta Computer, the story has it. The article quotes a source who allegedly saw an early prototype:

According to this source who saw live A5 MacBook Air actually, this test machine performed better than expected. Though it’s not clear which Mac OS X or iOS is pre-installed on this A5 MacBook Air, iOS seems to have difficulty to use features of Thunderbolt without Finder. And even if Mac OS X is installed, developer should spend time to support A5 on Universal Binary Applications. As considering these situation, this A5 MacBook Air seems to be made just for experiment.

The rumor aligns well with a recent SemiAccurate speculation that Apple will transition their portables lineup to custom-built chips with ARM-based processing cores. Not that Macotakara’s hit-and-miss record is anything to go by, but we have to ask ourselves what benefits – if any – the iPad 2’s A5 chip would bring to Apple’s ultra-thin notebook. Here’s the big picture…


Pictured above: a clamcase iPad case

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