15-inch MacBook Pro mystery connector connects to special apparatus for emergency data transfer

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2016
Apple's tool for migrating data from a new 15-inch MacBook Pro's SSD soldered to the motherboard has been spotted, and utilizes the unused connector discovered in tear-downs of the hardware.




First spotted by 9to5Mac, The tool uses a logic board holder for the problematic machine, with two data cables running from a central box that resembles the third generation Apple TV, and may be the one seen in a U.S. Federal Communication Commission document from September.

One end of the central box connects to the "connector to nowhere" on the motherboard first spotted in tear-downs of the 15-inch MacBook Pro earlier in November.




The central box connects to another computer through a USB-C connection, but if this is USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt 3 is not clear at this juncture. The tool will have to be used in the event of a failure involving any component with deep motherboard integration, such as Wi-FI, Touch ID, the SSD itself, or a GPU issue.

Initial reports claimed that Apple would provide the service only to those under the original warranty or AppleCare, but AppleInsider has learned that Apple will offer the data transfer service to any repair necessitating motherboard replacement at no additional cost beyond the flat-fee component and labor cost itself.

Overall, iFixit says the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is incredibly difficult to repair due to its non-removable SSD, glued-in battery, impossible to replace OLED Touch Bar and integrated Touch ID power button.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,901member
    So Apple knew fully well what consequences their decision to solder in the SSD would bring. So they had to invent a contraption to pull data off the SSD on a dead motherboard? At what point do they just slather Gorilla Glue all over the thing and make it totally impossible to service? When does a MacBook get so thin that a bend-gate breaks loose on a laptop?
    GeorgeBMacdysamoriaspacerayszoetmbjohnbeartallest skilaknabiviclauyycdigitolRemarksman
  • Reply 2 of 43
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,815member
    The question is: does MBP ever need repairs? 
    macxpresschaicka
  • Reply 3 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,095member
    lkrupp said:
    So Apple knew fully well what consequences their decision to solder in the SSD would bring. So they had to invent a contraption to pull data off the SSD on a dead motherboard? At what point do they just slather Gorilla Glue all over the thing and make it totally impossible to service? When does a MacBook get so thin that a bend-gate breaks loose on a laptop?
    At some point in the future when your machine breaks it'll be slid into a shredder and they'll print a new one for you there and then.
    Rayz2016king editor the grateDeelron
  • Reply 4 of 43
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,372member
    lkrupp said:
    So Apple knew fully well what consequences their decision to solder in the SSD would bring. So they had to invent a contraption to pull data off the SSD on a dead motherboard? At what point do they just slather Gorilla Glue all over the thing and make it totally impossible to service? When does a MacBook get so thin that a bend-gate breaks loose on a laptop?
    I wonder if there might be a future where large parts of the IPhone and Mac logic board, or even all of it, are encased in resin like the S1 SOC.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 5 of 43
    g-newsg-news Posts: 1,107member
    So to remove a socket, they had to add a socket. Makes perfect sense.
    boboliciousdysamoriaspacerayscoolfactorzoetmbavon b7
  • Reply 6 of 43
    g-news said:
    So to remove a socket, they had to add a socket. Makes perfect sense.
    Agreed. If there is some compelling (performance?) reason to do this I wish Apple would communicate such, and perhaps even market based on it, with demonstrable data...? As I recall I have upgraded both RAM & drives in every computer I can remember, most recently creating a Fusion drive on my trusty iMac, and for <$300 bumping my macbook pro to a 1TB SSD, using the HD as a portable... Big performance boosts!
    edited November 2016 spacerays
  • Reply 7 of 43
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,838member
    I'm wondering how easy it will be for the FBI to get the necessary components to do their own cloning of "terrorist" computers. Time to make sure Apple provides unbreakable encryption on the new Touch ID MacBook Pros. 
    frac
  • Reply 8 of 43
    Pardon my lack of in-depth knowledge. Does cloning the SSD means its contents are decrypted, copied, then re-encrypted?
  • Reply 9 of 43

    Apple gets 1 point for thinking ahead to computer failure (due to software or hardware corruption).
    Apple loses 2 points for making hardware non-upgradeable.
    Apple loses  3 points for tying user data not only to the operating system & software but to the hardware itself.

    I key IBM philosophy from the 80's was to keep software (be it OS or programs) separate from the data and never, ever mix the two.  It worked.  It made their mission critical business systems pretty much bullet proof.

    BUT:  A failure of ALL PC OS's (except OS/2) has been to mix the software and the data -- so when the software gets corrupted you lose both software and data.   The trouble is:  software can always be replaced.   User data cannot.

    Now Apple is compounding the problem by mixing software and hardware and user data....   When one fails they all fail.
    ...  The mystery socket is a rather weak work around for a weak design.

    That concept works on IPhones & IPads because the need for extreme portability trumps the need to protect user data -- and besides, those devices don't contain volatile user data (mostly just pictures).   But, can it work on a laptop where a user depends on the integrity of the data?

    The answer is obvious:  automatic online backups to the ICloud.
    ...  But then:   Why not just store the data in the ICloud?   (Ooops!  Google already thought of that.  It's called "Chromebook"!)
    ......... I think the next 5-10 years should be an interesting evolution....

    avon b7viclauyyc
  • Reply 10 of 43
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,659member
    "...with two data cable..."
  • Reply 11 of 43
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,659member

    The answer is obvious:  automatic online backups to the ICloud.
    ...  But then:   Why not just store the data in the ICloud?

    Why would I pay someone to store my data, when they won't guarantee it, when I could do that myself locally? Why would I want to wait forever for hundreds of gigabytes of data to be transferred to some third-party storage device across the Internet at painfully slow DSL upload speeds when I could do a local backup within an hour and store that drive wherever I want, including off site?
    ration alhmm
  • Reply 12 of 43
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,506member

    Apple gets 1 point for thinking ahead to computer failure (due to software or hardware corruption).
    Apple loses 2 points for making hardware non-upgradeable.
    Apple loses  3 points for tying user data not only to the operating system & software but to the hardware itself.

    I key IBM philosophy from the 80's was to keep software (be it OS or programs) separate from the data and never, ever mix the two.  It worked.  It made their mission critical business systems pretty much bullet proof.

    BUT:  A failure of ALL PC OS's (except OS/2) has been to mix the software and the data -- so when the software gets corrupted you lose both software and data.   The trouble is:  software can always be replaced.   User data cannot.

    Now Apple is compounding the problem by mixing software and hardware and user data....   When one fails they all fail.
    ...  The mystery socket is a rather weak work around for a weak design.

    That concept works on IPhones & IPads because the need for extreme portability trumps the need to protect user data -- and besides, those devices don't contain volatile user data (mostly just pictures).   But, can it work on a laptop where a user depends on the integrity of the data?

    The answer is obvious:  automatic online backups to the ICloud.
    ...  But then:   Why not just store the data in the ICloud?   (Ooops!  Google already thought of that.  It's called "Chromebook"!)
    ......... I think the next 5-10 years should be an interesting evolution....

    How are they tying your data to anything?

    spheric
  • Reply 13 of 43
    rob53 said:
    I'm wondering how easy it will be for the FBI to get the necessary components to do their own cloning of "terrorist" computers. Time to make sure Apple provides unbreakable encryption on the new Touch ID MacBook Pros. 

    All this provides is a connection to the soldered SSD. It's irrelevant whether the FBI (or anyone) connects to your SSD with this connector or does a direct connection to a removable SSD. They would face the exact same hurdles to access your data. This doesn't make it easier or harder, just different.
    sphericwilliamh
  • Reply 14 of 43

    g-news said:
    So to remove a socket, they had to add a socket. Makes perfect sense.
    Agreed. If there is some compelling (performance?) reason to do this I wish Apple would communicate such, and perhaps even market based on it, with demonstrable data...? As I recall I have upgraded both RAM & drives in every computer I can remember, most recently creating a Fusion drive on my trusty iMac, and for <$300 bumping my macbook pro to a 1TB SSD, using the HD as a portable... Big performance boosts!

    Its a reliability thing more than performance. With a socketed SSD you have three possible failure points: the solder connections on the motherboard to attach the socket,  the solder connections between the SSD chips and the board they are attached to and the socket terminals themselves. Soldering the SSD chips directly to the motherboard eliminates two of these.

    Then there's the freedom Apple gets in how the SSD chips are mounted. They may be able to extract additional performance based on routing of the signal lines and their proximity to the processor/bridge. There's also cooling to consider. Mounting directly to the motherboard would cool better than a separate board that's plugged into a socket. And based on tests of similar SSDs (the M.2 form factor that's becoming popular on desktops) that all show thermal throttling, then any extra coooling you can provide is important. 

    So multiple benefits with only a single drawback (user repair ability). I'm sure Apple knows the predicted failure rate for their SSDs and how often they would need to replace an entire motherboard for a failed SSD. And based on this they made an engineering decision to solder the SSD.
    Deelrontmayration alRayz2016
  • Reply 15 of 43
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,405member
    ireland said:
    lkrupp said:
    So Apple knew fully well what consequences their decision to solder in the SSD would bring. So they had to invent a contraption to pull data off the SSD on a dead motherboard? At what point do they just slather Gorilla Glue all over the thing and make it totally impossible to service? When does a MacBook get so thin that a bend-gate breaks loose on a laptop?
    At some point in the future when your machine breaks it'll be slid into a shredder and they'll print a new one for you there and then.
    lol - but I think his question also was, will they even require a 3D printer to do it???
  • Reply 16 of 43
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Apple, you are amazing. Keep up the great work! All this (besides the lack of Mac updates for years) is the reason why there are no Mac clones. Pathetic.
    aknabi
  • Reply 17 of 43
    Time for a public service announcement: back up your stuff if you value it!

    Relying on Apple or another company to rescue your data after a catastrophe occurs is asking for failure.
    pulseimagesDeelronration al
  • Reply 18 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,901member
    linkman said:
    Time for a public service announcement: back up your stuff if you value it!

    Relying on Apple or another company to rescue your data after a catastrophe occurs is asking for failure.
    Well yeah. Over at those cesspools of hate known as 9TO5MAC and MacRumors the faux fan crowd is creating one straw man argument after another and dismissing backups as not satisfactory or necessary. “What do I do if my MacBook Pro fails and I don’t have a backup?” with tears running down their cheeks and all frowny-faced and depressed. 
    macxpressericthehalfbeeberndogDeelrontmayration al
  • Reply 19 of 43
    rob53 said:
    I'm wondering how easy it will be for the FBI to get the necessary components to do their own cloning of "terrorist" computers. Time to make sure Apple provides unbreakable encryption on the new Touch ID MacBook Pros. 
    No kidding! This is scary, eh? The ability to easily copy the contents of the SSD onto another drive, possibly making dozens of copies that can be the target of multiple super-computers for the purpose of breaking the encryption. Essentially, parallel processing (multiple attempts at once) is much faster than serial (one attempt at a time).

    But I guess is this already possible with the cloning of removable SSDs. Just curious if somehow this special connector is able to unlock the encryption by using a stored token? I highly doubt that is the case, though.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,055member
    lkrupp said:
    So they had to invent a contraption...
    1) A connector now equates to "invent a contraption"? Hyperbole, much?

    2) When was the last time you had an emergency issue where you had a dead board but data on your device that needed to be retrieved? You know the iPhone and iPhone don't have this option, right?

    3) Calm down and think of this like an external monitor for a notebook. I've read that less 1% ever connector an external monitor and yet all notebooks come with that option in some regard just in case. I would bet that there's a considerably even smaller chance of a solid state board dying and someone note having a backup or desperately needs that SSD wiped before shipping.
    macxpress
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