This Week's Sponsor:


Ensure that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta.

More Details On What Makes The Thunderbolt Cable Tick

Apple eventually started selling Thunderbolt cables and peripherals on Tuesday but many have asked why the Apple Thunderbolt cable costs, the rather expensive, $50. Ars Technica and iFixit decided to dig into the cable to find a bit more about it and discover why exactly it is so expensive.

First contacting a support technician, they were told that the Thunderbolt cable was “smart”, containing firmware inside it. Subsequently reaching out to Intel, they wouldn’t discuss anything regarding “firmware in the cable” but they did note that any Thunderbolt peripheral or device will require a specific Thunderbolt cable.

Only Thunderbolt cables can be used to connect Thunderbolt products using Thunderbolt connectors, the cables have been designed for the 10Gbps signalling as well as power delivery that are part of Thunderbolt technology.

Digging a little deeper however, Ars found this EETimes article, which noted that Thunderbolt cables use ‘active cabling’ and have different electrical characteristics from Mini DisplayPort to achieve full duplex 10Gbps transmission. Such ‘active cabling’ cables contain “tiny chips at either end that are calibrated to the attenuation and dispersion properties of the wire between them”.

iFixit decided to tear open the new cable and found that it contains two Gennum GN2033 Thunderbolt Transceiver chips which are described by the company as follows:

The GN2033 provides the sophisticated signal boosting and detection functions required to transfer high-speed data without errors across inexpensive Thunderbolt copper cables

[Via Ars Technica, iFixit]

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.