Apple's Lightning port dynamically assigns pins to allow for reversible use

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  • Reply 21 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post


     


    Actually, if you were to look back over the comments, you'll note that I continually maintained that the cable would be chipped to support higher speeds and updates to protocols. (True.) I said that the plug was data only. (True.) I also said one approach to making the connector reversible was mirroring the pin-outs, which, apparently, they did for the power line, if not for the entire plug. Speaking of reversible...


     


    'Nuff said.


     


     


    First, you'll also note that video out and audio line out are NOT part of the specification. Lightning is all-digital. (True.) The 30-pin adaptor and the Lightning to HDMI adaptor both contain chips and digital-analog converters in the ADAPTORS, not in the phone. Hence, your assertion that signaling in the cable would cause "sophisticated" circuitry in the phone to switch the lines to audio or video line outs is flat out wrong.


     


    And you'll also note that Apple is, in fact, "killing off" the existing accessory market. Existing devices will use the adaptor or get tossed. Newer devices will use the new connector, or, as I also maintained, switch to Bluetooth and/or AirPlay. (True.) 


     


    So... what did you nail, exactly? (grin)



    man you're obnoxious 

  • Reply 22 of 47
    ahmlco wrote: »
    Actually, if you were to look back over the comments, you'll note that I continually maintained that the cable would be chipped to support higher speeds and updates to protocols. (True.) I said that the plug was data only. (True.) I also said one approach to making the connector reversible was mirroring the pin-outs, which, apparently, they did for the power line, if not for the entire plug. Speaking of reversible...

    'Nuff said.


    First, you'll also note that video out and audio line out are NOT part of the specification. Lightning is all-digital. (True.) The 30-pin adaptor and the Lightning to HDMI adaptor both contain chips and digital-analog converters in the ADAPTORS, not in the phone. Hence, your assertion that signaling in the cable would cause "sophisticated" circuitry in the phone to switch the lines to audio or video line outs is flat out wrong.

    And you'll also note that Apple is, in fact, "killing off" the existing accessory market. Existing devices will use the adaptor or get tossed. Newer devices will use the new connector, or, as I also maintained, switch to Bluetooth and/or AirPlay. (True.) 

    So... what did you nail, exactly? (grin)

    You maintained that it would be a step down from the 30-pin connector and that it would be less sophisticated and less complex. As your post clearly indicates it's exact the opposite of what you stating as a guaranteed fact weeks ago.

    Let's review...
    • The device watches for a momentary short on all pins (by the leading edge of the plug) to detect plug insertion/removal.
    • The pins on the plug are deactivated until after the plug is fully inserted, when a wake-up signal on one of the pins cues the chip inside the plug. This avoids any shorting hazard while the plug isn’t inside the connector.
    • The controller/driver chip tells the device what type it is, and for cases like the Lightning-to-USB cable whether a charger (that sends power) or a device (that needs power) is on the other end.
    • The device can then switch the other pins between the SoC’s data lines or the power circuitry, as needed in each case.
    • Once everything is properly set up, the controller/driver chip gets digital signals from the SoC and converts them – via serial/parallel, ADC/DAC, differential drivers or whatever – to whatever is needed by the interface on the other end of the adapter or cable. It could even re-encode these signals to some other format to use fewer wires, gain noise-immunity or whatever, and re-decode them on the other end; it’s all flexible. It could even convert to optical.

    Predicted each and everyone of those as the likely method for the new cable to be reversible and have so few pins, for which you said would be silly and constantly stated it would be neither more sophisticated nor more complex.
  • Reply 23 of 47
    I wonder how long it will take for others to start using a reversible, adaptive connectors/cabling? If Apple spent 3 years working on new headphones (which are still painful albeit to a lesser degree) I wonder how long they worked on Lightening. Back in 2009/2010 I said that a new connector for the then rumoured Apple tablet would have been a great time to introduce it, and I think Apple would have had it been ready, but were they even working on it back then?


    ahmlco wrote: »
    One other thing I've not really seen mentioned, is that the Lightning port can also function as a USB host, not just as a client. This -- with the proper adaptor -- would allow cameras and other peripherals to be connected to an iPhone or iPad.

    Boy, we sure have different definitions of the words less, complex and sophisticatd.
  • Reply 24 of 47
    This could prove interesting. With dynamic routing of signals, the chips could communicate with the peripheral and deliver the protocol dependant upon the detected peripheral.

    For example, if the external is a speaker - you automatically transmit audio. If the external peripheral is a video component, then some flavor of HDMI protocol is used; if the external peripheral is a keyboard - then perhaps a serial protocol, if a PC is detected, then USB2/3 protocol.

    The present method of detecting the attached peripheral uses a resistive load, where the resistance to ground determines the peripheral that is attached. This is why you sometimes get the error message "Device not supported" - just clean the connectors up a bit, and it should work just fine.
  • Reply 25 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Wovel View Post





    Because USB ports are only allowed to be used as USB ports. You may recall Intel running into this problem when they wanted to use the USB port for Lightpeak (Thunderbolt).

    I believe if Apple chose to use a Micro USB port, they would be restricted to protocols and configurations that are part of the Micro USB standard.


    And there are several instances where the microUSB port has had issues with damage during the install/removal process.  The microUSB port is not a very rebust connection - hopefully this is all fixed with the new Apple cable.  Robust connection, and immune from many forms of damage (accidental or intentional) that has plauged many of the microUSB cellphones.

  • Reply 26 of 47
    hodar wrote: »
    This could prove interesting. With dynamic routing of signals, the chips could communicate with the peripheral and deliver the protocol dependant upon the detected peripheral.
    For example, if the external is a speaker - you automatically transmit audio. If the external peripheral is a video component, then some flavor of HDMI protocol is used; if the external peripheral is a keyboard - then perhaps a serial protocol, if a PC is detected, then USB2/3 protocol.
    The present method of detecting the attached peripheral uses a resistive load, where the resistance to ground determines the peripheral that is attached. This is why you sometimes get the error message "Device not supported" - just clean the connectors up a bit, and it should work just fine.

    You also get an unlimited number of potential protocols and devices you can potentially support unlike with the simple 30-pin connector. This is a major step forward for CE and I don't think most realize how big this will be in the coming years.

    Apple said that a Lightening to HMDI (digital) and Lightening to VGA (analog) adapters will arrive within a few months.
  • Reply 27 of 47


    This plug *is* electrically reversible.  Straight up pin-to-pin reversible.  To make it more clear number the lower pins 8 to 1, so they would be numbered the same as the top when they are flipped over.  It's 1-1, 2-7 (7-2), 3-6 (6-3), 4-8 (8-4), 5-5.  Same coming and going.  Compare his picture to itself rotated 180 degrees.

  • Reply 28 of 47
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    Spoiler:
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Apple said that a Lightening to HMDI (digital) and Lightening to VGA (analog) adapters will arrive within a few months.
    Really? I had not read this, but I suppose this makes sense. Im sure new Camera Connection Kits are coming as well, when the new iPad is released. I was wondering about this since the pricey $29 & $39 adapters they are currently shipping do not handle any video. Will these be strictly single application adapters, or will they be offered as 30-pin adapters to work with existing docks and adapters?
  • Reply 29 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Hodar View Post



    This could prove interesting. With dynamic routing of signals, the chips could communicate with the peripheral and deliver the protocol dependant upon the detected peripheral. For example, if the external is a speaker - you automatically transmit audio. If the external peripheral is a video component, then some flavor of HDMI protocol is used; if the external peripheral is a keyboard - then perhaps a serial protocol, if a PC is detected, then USB2/3 protocol.


     


    We've been told that Lightning is a digital-only cable and protocol. Any conversion to, say, line-out audio for a speaker, would happen in the cable or adaptor. The best example of this is the 30-pin adaptor which a D/AC chip in it in order to get the audio line out from the data stream.

  • Reply 30 of 47
    mac_128 wrote: »
    Really? I had not read this, but I suppose this makes sense. Im sure new Camera Connection Kits are coming as well, when the new iPad is released. I was wondering about this since the pricey $29 & $39 adapters they are currently shipping do not handle any video. Will these be strictly single application adapters, or will they be offered as 30-pin adapters to work with existing docks and adapters?

    The statement comes from The Verge but I have no reason to doubt them.

  • Reply 31 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Droid View Post



    Can someone explain how consumers benefit from authentication chips within cables?

    Sure it's clever to switch the connections based on the way it's inserted but Apple could just make a 'mirrored connector' instead (same pin connections on each side).

    It looks like it is just a way for Apple to prevent 3rd parties making cables, instead they have to sign up to Apple's licensing & manufacture to Apple's specs.


     


    Apple has said that they plan to stick with this connector for a long time.  That means that it's probably going to have to support several different electrical interfaces over its lifetime.  At the least, I would expect USB3 and Thunderbolt in the near term.  To do that with a small number of pins means it's going to have to figure out which interface you're using and assign the pins accordingly.  The existing cable needs to configure the electrical interface for USB2.


     


    I can think of several reasons to do the configuration with a chip in the cable.  My favorite would be for safety.  The chip in the middle protects the iDevice from high voltage spikes, current spikes, power wired to ground, etc.  It also protects the iDevice from seeing an inconsistent electrical interface: signaling one interface but using another.


     


    You're probably also right, though, that Apple wants to exert some control over third party cables.  Forcing them to manufacture to Apple specs may save Apple headaches and money in support and service, as well as generating licensing fees.

  • Reply 32 of 47
    Why did they not also remove the headphone jack. And drive the headphone audio signal through the lightening port if it can dynamically change what signals go through it?

    Perhaps this would have enabled them to get the bigger screen into a handset that was not so tall.

    Seeing as how they provide headphones they could have used a lightning connector instead
  • Reply 33 of 47


    Originally Posted by WilliamWallace View Post

    Why did they not also remove the headphone jack. 


     


    Probably because that's a horrible idea.






    Perhaps this would have enabled them to get the bigger screen into a handset that was not so tall.



     


    The point of that being what?

  • Reply 34 of 47
    Here is a more cogent breakdown of what I and others have been predicting...


    Why did they not also remove the headphone jack. And drive the headphone audio signal through the lightening port if it can dynamically change what signals go through it?
    Perhaps this would have enabled them to get the bigger screen into a handset that was not so tall.
    Seeing as how they provide headphones they could have used a lightning connector instead

    There are plenty of reasons but the most glaring two I'd think would be 1) it's too costly to have such expensive headphones that don't increase the listening experience being included with every device, and 2) you couldn't use 3rd-party headphones until the licensing is under way, and even then it would be a use of proprietary connector that would be more cost to the user and hurt their ecosystem.
  • Reply 35 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Nailed it! I forget who was saying I was stupid for thinking Apple would use adaptive pins for this new connector. I doubt they'll speak up now.

    I do wonder pins 2 and 7 (the power pins) are used for the association. You alter the impedance slightly or have the chip communicate over one or the other pin and the device's chip's will be able to know instantly which pins are for which orientation of the plug.

    I feel as if the charging and syncing is faster with the new connector. I look forward to AnandTech's thorough review which should reveal this is it exists.

    Because Lightening can act as dumb as Micro-USB is no argument that Lightening should have scraped, all its features be removed, and a far inferior connector be used.

    I don't understand why you et al. purposely ignore the mandate on the EPS ruling. You know damn well it has nothing to do with the cabling but with the EPS. You also know damn well that Apple has been in compliance for 8 years with their EPS having a USB-A connector so that any vendor can use their EPS. Don't pretend you aren't aware of this.




    There is another really good breakdown of Lightning on the Solipsism Gradient blog. Is that you, Mr. X? If so, kudos.


     


    p.s. Didn't see your post above when I first posted. So it is you.

  • Reply 36 of 47

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Droid View Post


     


     


    I think your theory that cheap cables will just work for charging is misguided. Apple put these chips in to sense if cables are up to spec. I doubt they will allow charging from cables that don't do the required negotiation first. I hope I am wrong. 



     


    You could very well be right.  But I hope you are wrong.  *fingers crossed* 

  • Reply 37 of 47
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    This is a cable/port design for a decade out: quite likely there are future uses this cable design allows for that necessitated the change.
  • Reply 38 of 47
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Finally a reversible connector - all these years I have been been turning my phone around to get it to plug in correctly, makes it darn hard to use the phone when the touch screen is on the bottom. :-0
  • Reply 39 of 47
    I have to say that I really appreciate the ability to blindly plug in the Lightning cable, but I'm going to hate not being able to get cheap 3rd party cables. Not so much for the cheap, but rather the custom. I have a ton of 30-pin cables, some are black because I want them hidden, some are very short, some are very long, and some have two heads.

    The one thing about the cheap cables, was that it was easy to just pass them out. If someone needed one, you could just give it to them without worrying about getting it back. Heck, I would do this with cheap external batteries.


    I hope this all kinds figured out soon.
  • Reply 40 of 47
    @urbanvoyeur, this actually strengthens the argument that the authentication is going to be required for something even as simple as charging. Apple has openly stated that there is no requirement to ever connect an iphone to the computer (since syncing and backups and restores can be done wirelessly), the only purpose for the cable would indeed be for charging.
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