or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Authentication chips discovered in teardown of Apple's new Lightning connector
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Authentication chips discovered in teardown of Apple's new Lightning connector

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 
A user has torn apart Apple's new Lightning cable and shared details on the iPhone 5 connector with AppleInsider, including a warning as to why customers should not buy third-party Lightning connectors for the time being.

Lightning


Peter from Double Helix Cables took apart the Lightning connector and found inside what appear to be authentication chips. He found a chip located between the V+ contact of the USB and the power pin on the new Lightning plug.

The presumed inclusion of authentication chips in Lightning connectors plays a part in the higher cost of the new cables. Earlier Friday, AppleInsider shared details from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who said the new Lightning connector has a cost of $3.50, which is a 775 percent increase compared to the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

While the Lightning cable reportedly costs Apple $3.50 to make, some third-party resellers on sites like Alibaba.com are already offering Lightning connectors at much cheaper prices. Given the apparent use of authentication chips and Apple's cost in making the cables, Peter cautioned that customers should avoid third-party Lightning connectors for the time being.

"There is basically no way those are functional cables," he told AppleInsider in an e-mail on Friday. "You can't just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity, and my teardown proves that. The chip has to be there, and it is directly in the signal path of the V+ wire."

Lightning


He also said that users will not be able to build without their own Lightning cables, "at least not without a precise dissection of an Apple-branded Lightning cable." He characterized the connector as "very fragile" once the metal protective shield has been removed, though it is "extremely tough" when the cable is intact.

Peter did manage to customize his own Lightning cable by shortening it, adding sleeving, and putting his own custom USB plug and logo branding heatshrink, something he said he did "just for fun." Below, he's shared what is the first-ever "custom" Lightning cable:

Lightning


For more, check out the custom cables available at Double Helix Cables.
post #2 of 73
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
Lightning

 

New, from Monster, the DX500304 Apple Lighting Cable, 5": $129.99*!

 

*10" DX500305 available in November for $159.99

 

EDIT: Oh, gosh, I was joking. The guy's actually selling this for $80… 

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #3 of 73
Will Lightning eventually work with Thunderbolt or USB3?

Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. Do I know why? Kinda.
post #4 of 73
A simple charging adapter shouldn't need a chip.

My guess is lightning is "Thunderbolt Lite" and the chip is a converter.
post #5 of 73

It's great to see Apple integrating technologies that help protect consumers from the risks of using unauthorised accessories with their valuable iDevices. I'm very excited by the vast potential of lightning.

post #6 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

New, from Monster, the DX500304 Apple Lighting Cable, 5": $129.99*!

 

*10" DX500305 available in November for $159.99

 

EDIT: Oh, gosh, I was joking. The guy's actually selling this for $80… 


That's because it has a chip in it and you have to pay Apple to build a power cable now.

post #7 of 73
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post
That's because it has a chip in it and you have to pay Apple to build a power cable now.

 

Wow, you people actually believe these lies, don't you?

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #8 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Wow, you people actually believe these lies, don't you?

 

I guess so when AI publishes them :)  Perhaps the article is incorrect?

post #9 of 73
Originally Posted by realwarder View Post
I guess so when AI publishes them :)  Perhaps the article is incorrect?


Yes, that's certainly the part to which I was referring. Keep it up. lol.gif

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #10 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by elliots11 View Post

Will Lightning eventually work with Thunderbolt or USB3?
Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. Do I know why? Kinda.

I like the conversation you're having with yourself and your conclusion! Funny! :)

post #11 of 73
The cheap cables do have a functional purpose! They allow you to charge your device. They donot transfer data so you cannot sync or connect to your car stereo.

But they do let you recharge your iphone using your PC at your desk at work without spending big money.
post #12 of 73

To me, on the face of it, the Lightening cable is a great improvement over the 30 pin connector which was larger, could only be put in one way, etc. If the chip in the cable is designed to stop third party crap being made, so  be it. All you have to do is walk around Best Buy and most of what they sell is cheap, plasticky, crap products!

 

I will only buy Apple electronics and SW. I don't begrudge Apple for making money. It means I will enjoy superior SW and Hardware from Apple.

post #13 of 73

No, you won't be able to charge your iPhone with the fake cables.  The whole point of the teardown I did was to show that the chip is in the path of the V+ (main power wire) of the USB.  The chip is in the way of the signal, there's no direct connection.  I'm guessing the iPhone5 won't charge unless it is in communication with that chip.  People will have to buy the 3rd party cables (and I'm talking about 3rd party cables that come straight from Alibaba, bought en masse and resold at a profit on amazon, and so on - not brands like Griffin or Monster that are going to pay up to get apple certified) to find out for sure whether these cables are paperweights or not.

post #14 of 73

A chip in the voltage path could also be a simple voltage regulator and/or overvoltage/static protection.

 

I'll ignore the "part cost $3.50 therefore the cable costs $3.50 to make" fallacy as that's a long lost battle. Yes, folks, the $3.50 cost of the part is the TOTAL cost. The other parts (wire, insulation, mystery chip) fall for free from the sky, and get assembled together by magic elves in the Everfree Forest and delivered to your local Apple store by pastel colored ponies.

 

Is there a part number visible?


Edited by Quiet_Desperation - 9/21/12 at 12:00pm
post #15 of 73
What makes anyone think these are "Authentication chips" ?

Lightning is a new interface, not USB. It's much more likely these chips adapt Lightning to USB. We'll know more when people get specs on the protocol, whether that be from Apple or by reverse-engineering it themselves.

(The same incorrect rumor spread everywhere when people took apart the first Thunderbolt cables, which also have chips. Turns out the chips, you know, do something other than authenticate themselves as from Apple.)
post #16 of 73
Wow! $3.50 to make, and they charge $19.00 for it. That's an 80% profit. And they include one for FREE with every new iPhone! Sooooo generous, even if that's a stupid business practice (I have to BUY an HDMI cable with a new AV product without which I can't use it).

So, based on this markup, the $29 dock connector adapter costs about $5.50 to make. Oh wait, Apple would never do that for such an important transitional device. There must be like a $15 chip in there to justify this price and prevent them from including one with the phone.

As for the lack of availability ... I'm reminded of the original Macintosh launch, where the 128K Mac needed two floppy drives to be functional, but Apple did not have the $500 external floppy drive available until almost 5 months after the launch, by which time the frustration consumers felt (in part) caused sales of the revolutionary $2500 computer to stall ...
post #17 of 73

Another thing to consider.  The grey market cables here:

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Lightning-to-USB-Cable-for-iPhone-5-iPod-Touch-5th-iPod-Nano-7th-10000-pcs-per/641167126.html

 

While they are suspiciously cheap, it's entirely possible that this is the factory Apple hired to make them (or they're sourcing them from the real factory), and that they're being sold under the table.  It is much more likely however, that they are just lookalikes that are non functional.

post #18 of 73
It's a shame AI is posting this wild ass guess work! The chip may or may not authenticate the connection but one thing I'm convinced of is that the chip has to work in conjunction with the ports ability to dynamically configure itself. That means the"I" device has to talk to the device connected to configure itself properly.

The bigger shame hear is that Apple let's all of this crap get generated in the publics mind when they could easily just tell people what the ports capability and behavior is. They really are doing themselves and the user community a big disservice keeping the details of the port bottled up. We don't need an in depth explanation just reasonable details to clear up in the publics mind what the port is capable of.
post #19 of 73

The chip does not look like any sort of garden variety voltage regulator that I've ever seen.  I'm not a chips expert though, so I don't know.  When I got down through the epoxy to it, it was very shiny, metallic silicon, highly polished.  The text was tiny but legible through my macro lens.  It reads 

 

MX20P?

HP8M5

11D222

B0

 

That's my interpretation of my photo anyway.  

 

It makes sense that the dock adapter costs more.  It has a DAC chip in it to provide analog audio output through the 30 pin connection.  

post #20 of 73
Similar hysterics ensued over previous iOS cables "authentication chips," but the reality is that this is a multipurpose cable, so the devices on both ends have to agree on what signals to send for it to work.

This is not the first cable with a chip in it, nor is it particularly expensive.
post #21 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

Wow! $3.50 to make, and they charge $19.00 for it. That's an 80% profit....

 

That is a 543% profit....

 

19.00 / 3.50 = 5.42857...

post #22 of 73
Freedom to choose.....NOT



lol

"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

Reply

"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

Reply
post #23 of 73

I think the bottom line here is that stuff like this:

 

http://www.amazon.com/iTronz-Charging-Lightning-Cable-iPhone/dp/B0091ABWIO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348254725&sr=8-1&keywords=iphone+lightning+cable

 

May not be functional, since I don't think Apple with its MFi program has certified any cables other than their own.  I've seen the cables going for 20 cents each if you buy 100,000 cables.  This is why I am doubtful that they work.  There is no question that to offer cables for this, companies will have to jump through hoops, as it's a complex and as yet poorly understood new technology.  It used to be that I could buy Apple dock plugs for a buck and make my own charge & sync cable.  Places made their living doing that.  Now it is really up in the air.  

 

I agree that the chips could be anything.  

 

As far as profit margin goes, the previous cables were even more profitable.  Probably 25 cents to make one, and they sold for the same price of $20-30 from Apple.

post #24 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Wow, you people actually believe these lies, don't you?

It's a worldview that comes from decades of buying cheap commoditized PC hardware. They expect Apple power cables to be low tech because all other power cables are...

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #25 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by icoco3 View Post

That is a 543% profit....

19.00 / 3.50 = 5.42857...
Sorry, you're right of course, I meant in as much as it costs 20% out of the 100% retail price, leaving them with 80% profit.

Still, sales are such that Apple correctly predicted there was no need to change their profit model to ensure sales of the new iPhone, and as such was a smart business move, since it doesn't devalue the perception of their products. I don't agree with it in this case as a consumer, but as a shareholder, good for them.
post #26 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

To me, on the face of it, the Lightening cable is a great improvement over the 30 pin connector which was larger, could only be put in one way, etc. If the chip in the cable is designed to stop third party crap being made, so  be it. All you have to do is walk around Best Buy and most of what they sell is cheap, plasticky, crap products!

 

I will only buy Apple electronics and SW. I don't begrudge Apple for making money. It means I will enjoy superior SW and Hardware from Apple.


No it does not. There is no such guarantee.Apple have had their share of "roadapples".

post #27 of 73
This is not surprising. With third party 30 pin cables I've had trouble even charging an iPad, let alone trying to transfer data. While I agree with David Pogue that Apple should have kept the retail price far lower, especially for 30-pin adaptors, I welcome the smaller, two-direction design. I suspect (read:hope) that the added chip may bring some extra functionality beyond authentication.
post #28 of 73
this is not any different than their strategy for their video-out and other cables. they've had authentication chips for years.
post #29 of 73
The most obvious failing of the new connector are those exposed connections. The chip, which is connected to the power circuit, could provide current-limiting protection in case of a short circuit. If that's all it is, it won't be that hard to copy.

And if that's what it is, using clones without that feature could result in problems.
post #30 of 73

So it proves that Apple is gouging their customers.  Costs = $3.50 & Sell = $29.00 that is a pretty steep markup and is simply not justifiable under any circumstances.  We have no choice but to pay the ridiculous price since no one can make a true 3rd party cable.  Shameful Apple, simply SHAMEFUL.

post #31 of 73

Manufacturers vary, but the first line is probably the part number and the rest is date code and lot number.

post #32 of 73
How does he know these are "authentication" chips and not protocol or power negotiation chips?
post #33 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

So it proves that Apple is gouging their customers.  Costs = $3.50 & Sell = $29.00 that is a pretty steep markup and is simply not justifiable under any circumstances.  We have no choice but to pay the ridiculous price since no one can make a true 3rd party cable.  Shameful Apple, simply SHAMEFUL.

 

Please explain the thought process that makes you think the total cost of buying the cable parts, manufacturing it, packaging it and shipping it is just the cost of one single part?

 

Please explain that, because I'd have to have myself into a medically induced coma for that to ever make sense.

post #34 of 73

Possibility

 

Photoshop fiddling suggests "NX20P"

 

NXP Semiconductors makes an NX20P3000 chip package, so this could very well be an ASIC Apple has made.

post #35 of 73
It's great to see Apple integrating technologies that help protect consumers from the risks of using unauthorised accessories with their valuable iDevices.I'm very excited by the vast potential of lightning.

Wow! Do you really believe Apple has added an authentication chip in the Lightening cable to protect consumers and their valuable advices? Couldn't be to force customers to pay at least $20.00 for an item that costs them $3.50 to build?
post #36 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


It's a worldview that comes from decades of buying cheap commoditized PC hardware. They expect Apple power cables to be low tech because all other power cables are...

At launch, I am not sure why everyone expects the cables to be cheap. Even now, i'll bet if you buy the factory cable from most Android manufacturers, they are overpriced. Cheap cables come from the aftermarket ... as in after the product has been released and factories can figure out how to build cables ...

post #37 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbsteph View Post

It's great to see Apple integrating technologies that help protect consumers from the risks of using unauthorised accessories with their valuable iDevices.I'm very excited by the vast potential of lightning.
Wow! Do you really believe Apple has added an authentication chip in the Lightening cable to protect consumers and their valuable advices? Couldn't be to force customers to pay at least $20.00 for an item that costs them $3.50 to build?

Don't forget that to support HDMI out, you will need to support authentication. You can put it in a dongle on the cable, or you can build it into the device. Longterm, the cost of cables is cheaper and the cables are more compact if you build it into the device. Has anyone seen a micro-USB to HDMI out cable that works for Android devices? I think that most of the solutions that I have seen include using a mini-HDMI.

post #38 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

So it proves that Apple is gouging their customers.  Costs = $3.50 & Sell = $29.00 that is a pretty steep markup and is simply not justifiable under any circumstances.  We have no choice but to pay the ridiculous price since no one can make a true 3rd party cable.  Shameful Apple, simply SHAMEFUL.

 

Are all fast food companies also gouging their customers? I'm not a fast food pricing expert but I am pretty sure it doesn't cost McDonald's more than $0.05 to make a large fry that they sell for $2.19 or whatever.

post #39 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaptorOO7 View Post

So it proves that Apple is gouging their customers.  Costs = $3.50 & Sell = $29.00 that is a pretty steep markup and is simply not justifiable under any circumstances.  We have no choice but to pay the ridiculous price since no one can make a true 3rd party cable.  Shameful Apple, simply SHAMEFUL.

You are a genius. You discovered the secret that so many other could not see. Please tell us, oh great one, what other manufacturing ills you can correct from seeing the price of one component?

 

The cost of my windshield wipers to Toyota is $11. THEY SHOULD TOTALLY BE CHARGING $11.00 FOR MY CAR!!

post #40 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHecta View Post

 

Are all fast food companies also gouging their customers? I'm not a fast food pricing expert but I am pretty sure it doesn't cost McDonald's more than $0.05 to make a large fry that they sell for $2.19 or whatever.

You're thinking of the sodas.  The fries cost more than that.  The do make a killing on the drinks tho, you're right about that.  I know the cables cost more than $3.50 - they're probably twice that after all's said and done.  Still, a $29 selling price is extortion.  Give me the crappy knockoffs all day long.  I could care less how aesthetically pleasing the cable is.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
  • Authentication chips discovered in teardown of Apple's new Lightning connector
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Authentication chips discovered in teardown of Apple's new Lightning connector