Apple confirms T2 coprocessor blocks some third-party Mac repairs

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2018
Repairing newer Mac hardware, such as the 2018 Mac mini and MacBook Air, at an unauthorized service center may soon be impossible thanks to new diagnostics requirements involving Apple's T2 security chip, the company recently confirmed.

Apple T2 Processor
Source: iFixit


Apple confirmed to The Verge that, under a recently revised repair process, only certain authorized replacement parts will work in a T2-equipped machine. Specifically, when critical hardware like a Touch ID module or logic board is replaced, the T2 chip renders Mac inoperable until the repair facility runs a piece of special diagnostics software.

Apple could not confirm which products or repairs the new policy affects, nor could it say when the procedure was first implemented.

Word of the revised policy surfaced in October, a month after Apple circulated a document to Authorized Service Providers detailing a modified repair procedure that requires proprietary "system configuration" software to be run after certain hardware components are replaced.

The software, called Apple Service Toolkit 2, works in conjunction with the T2 security chip and includes a "Mac Resource Inspector" and tools that examine a variety of computer systems including memory, display, power adapters and cooling system. Importantly, the toolkit is restricted to authorized personnel who have access to Apple's Global Service Exchange (GSX) network.

Apple's new process makes it exceedingly difficult, or in some cases impossible, for consumers to have their machines repaired by third party. This poses a problem for people who do not live near an Apple Store and rely on third-party repair shops to get their equipment fixed in a timely manner.

The protocol has renewed suspicions of "planned obsolescence" and, more directly, a potential play at "right to repair" legislation being readied in a number of U.S. states. Advocates of the latter are already speculating as to why Apple instituted the T2-based protocol.

"It's very possible the goal is to exert more control over who can perform repairs by limiting access to parts," iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said in a statement to The Verge. "This could be an attempt to grab more market share from the independent repair providers. Or it could be a threat to keep their authorized network in line. We just don't know."

Early last month, the repair specialist tested the T2 repair procedure by swapping out the display and logic board of one 13-inch MacBook Pro with another, finding neither part replacement rendered the machine unusable. Display replacement does not require use of AST 2, Apple confirmed to The Verge, though it is unclear why iFixit was able to swap out logic boards.

The T2 coprocessor serves a variety of functions including the always-on "Hey, Siri" functionality on the new MacBook Air, preventing ne'er-do-wells from accessing the microphone when the computer is off, securing the Touch ID sensor, and stores cryptographic keys used in the secure boot process.

Apple has included T2 in several Macs to date -- the new Mac mini, MacBook Air and iMac Pro -- and is expected to continue rolling out the chip as new models are released.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    The EU is going to have a massive heart-attack once they hear this.
    edredjbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 54
    I'm already chuckling thinking about the video that YouTuber repair guy is going to do about this. Hopefully, this time it'll end with an aneurysm.
    williamlondonedredjbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 54
    Well, it better not cripple my Mac Mini when I upgrade the RAM.
    williamlondonedredphilboogiejbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 54
    The EU is going to have a massive heart-attack once they hear this.

    Why? Auto manufacturers have similar procedures which are designed to prevent the ability for thieves to not only steal cars, but to part them
    out and resell them. BMW being one of the biggest, and last I checked they were headquartered in Europe.
    racerhomie3dysamoriarepressthiswilliamlondondavenGeorgeBMacbb-15jony0
  • Reply 5 of 54
    It’s simply about controlling the experience - hacked junk repairs lead to disgruntled customers. This is why we used to pay more for a Mac than a pc - so it would just work without “knowing some guy” who’d get it going again for a little while. Till it broke again. I remember having to bring my Mac to work just to get the job done. Many employers back then had to rely on their only hacked (stolen) copy of windows on all their devices because they were to cheap to do it right and even done right you couldn’t achieve WYSIWYG!
  • Reply 6 of 54
    Ya, Louis is gonna go cave on this issue. AS HE SHOULD. Apple is doubling down on the closed system, high profit, upper-middle class strategy. 30 years with Apple but I now resort to buying used, and modding my 2010 12-core Mac Pro (and still getting over 25,000 on Geek Bench). New iPad's? LOVE them. Will get one used next year.
    aylk
  • Reply 7 of 54
    anomeanome Posts: 1,303member

    Don't expect it will be too much of a problem as long as they make the replacement kits and software readily available to third party repairers.

    Then again, I expect someone somewhere will get something repaired that stops working, and complain that Apple are trying to screw everyone.

  • Reply 8 of 54
    Repairing newer Mac hardware, such as the 2018 Mac mini and MacBook Air, at an unauthorized service center may soon be impossible thanks to new diagnostics requirements involving Apple's T2 security chip, the company recently confirmed.

    Apple T2 Processor
    Source: iFixit


    Apple confirmed to The Verge that, under a recently revised repair process, only certain authorized replacement parts will work in a T2-equipped machine. Specifically, when critical hardware like a Touch ID module or logic board is replaced, the T2 chip renders Mac inoperable until the repair facility runs a piece of special diagnostics software.

    Apple could not confirm which products or repairs the new policy affects, nor could it say when the procedure was first implemented.

    Word of the revised policy surfaced in October, a month after Apple circulated a document to Authorized Service Providers detailing a modified repair procedure that requires proprietary "system configuration" software to be run after certain hardware components are replaced.

    The software, called Apple Service Toolkit 2, works in conjunction with the T2 security chip and includes a "Mac Resource Inspector" and tools that examine a variety of computer systems including memory, display, power adapters and cooling system. Importantly, the toolkit is restricted to authorized personnel who have access to Apple's Global Service Exchange (GSX) network.

    Apple's new process makes it exceedingly difficult, or in some cases impossible, for consumers to have their machines repaired by third party. This poses a problem for people who do not live near an Apple Store and rely on third-party repair shops to get their equipment fixed in a timely manner.

    The protocol has renewed suspicions of "planned obsolescence" and, more directly, a potential play at "right to repair" legislation being readied in a number of U.S. states. Advocates of the latter are already speculating as to why Apple instituted the T2-based protocol.

    "It's very possible the goal is to exert more control over who can perform repairs by limiting access to parts," iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens said in a statement to The Verge. "This could be an attempt to grab more market share from the independent repair providers. Or it could be a threat to keep their authorized network in line. We just don't know."

    Early last month, the repair specialist tested the T2 repair procedure by swapping out the display and logic board of one 13-inch MacBook Pro with another, finding neither part replacement rendered the machine unusable. Display replacement does not require use of AST 2, Apple confirmed to The Verge, though it is unclear why iFixit was able to swap out logic boards.

    The T2 coprocessor serves a variety of functions including the always-on "Hey, Siri" functionality on the new MacBook Air, preventing ne'er-do-wells from accessing the microphone when the computer is off, securing the Touch ID sensor, and stores cryptographic keys used in the secure boot process.

    Apple has included T2 in several Macs to date -- the new Mac mini, MacBook Air and iMac Pro -- and is expected to continue rolling out the chip as new models are released.
    What else can still be replaced by individual?  I assume everything that doesn't containing a chip (batteries, speakers, fans, etc)?
  • Reply 9 of 54
    bitmodbitmod Posts: 267member
    Massive money grab meant to render out of warranty products useless. 
    If the new iMacs and Mac pros have this, then Apple can kiss the Pro market goodbye. Who’s going to buy pro gear with no aftermarket value? Want to replace a HDD... that will be $960 at your authorized dealer thank you...

    avon b7williamlondon80s_Apple_GuyairnerdBrony3535
  • Reply 10 of 54
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,698member
    bitmod said:
    Want to replace a HDD... that will be $960 at your authorized dealer thank you...

    Somebody didn't actually read the article. FTA:

    "Specifically, when critical hardware like a Touch ID module or logic board is replaced ..." i.e., parts you can only get from Apple.

    And apparently some people also can't comprehend what they read well enough to work out that "authorized" Apple repair places are not just Apple Stores. Really, really rural people are still going to have a lack of easy options, but ... that applies to rural life generally, so I expect they're used to that, as it is part and parcel of deep-rural lifestyle.

    The 99 percent of the two percent who actually upgrade their machines will find that they are as likely to be able to upgrade the RAM and HD/SSD internally as much as they currently can (which varies by model and heroic third-party efforts).
    dysamoriarepressthiscurtis hannahwilliamlondondavenGeorgeBMacbb-15fastasleepmacxpressjony0
  • Reply 11 of 54
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Why accuse Apple of doing it for monopolistic reasons when the T2 is security chip and there are perfectly good security reasons for insisting on certain parts? For example macOS needs some assurance that the fingerprint reader is genuine if its granting access to the system partially based on its input.
    racerhomie3repressthiswilliamlondonbb-15fastasleep
  • Reply 12 of 54
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,185member
    I think this whole T2 chip thing is just the start of things.   How long until MacOS updates only work with Macs with the T2 chip.   There goes the hackintoch community, which is something Apple would love to happen.  Even though it’s such a small group.   This is just the start.  Going to A* processors in the future is the next step in full control.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,333member
    The only thing that concerns me here is the continued attempt to make people use the word “Mac” like a personal pronoun.
    repressthiswilliamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 54
    Sounds like you can't replace the Touch ID mainly, which is already a thing on iPhones, and should be. Nobody should be able to break into someones computer by breaking the security profile and replacing it with a fake. Replacing the motherboard might be quite an issue, but thats already a rare enough issue that people are already dealing with Apple case by case for this.
    bb-15
  • Reply 15 of 54
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,295member
    There are definitely issues for the EU to consider. With this move, Apple is bringing virtually the entire Mac out-of-warranty repair industry in-house and setting the prices. In-house includes authorized repair shops as they will have no possibility to compete with Apple on pricing.

    In the case that someone lodges a complaint with the EU, at the very least, I would expect Apple to be required to make things very to the consumer at time of purchase. At worst the T2 chip could be deactivated in the EU when the warranty on the machine expires (not unlike users being able to unlock phones when carrier contracts for handsets expire.

    I see now reason why Apple could not let users validate repaired machines (using original components) from a home connection.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 54
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,295member
    The EU is going to have a massive heart-attack once they hear this.

    Why? Auto manufacturers have similar procedures which are designed to prevent the ability for thieves to not only steal cars, but to part them
    out and resell them. BMW being one of the biggest, and last I checked they were headquartered in Europe.
    Yes, German car manufacturers try the same tactics although the German Automobile Association is itself against such practices.

    That is why the whole situation is currently under review in the EU with the hope that pan European laws on design protection can be updated to better reflect the wishes of EU citizens.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    iFixit et al keep harking on about this being Apple trying to stop repairs - when it's pretty obvious what this is: security.

    It means the security of you or your company's files doesn't end when I get out a screwdriver.
    williamlondonandrewj5790georgie01bb-15fastasleep
  • Reply 18 of 54
    iFixit et al keep harking on about this being Apple trying to stop repairs - when it's pretty obvious what this is: security.

    It means the security of you or your company's files doesn't end when I get out a screwdriver.

    who are we kidding? After you get out a screwdriver, might as well buy a new one...

    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 54
    bitmod said:
    Massive money grab meant to render out of warranty products useless. 
    If the new iMacs and Mac pros have this, then Apple can kiss the Pro market goodbye. Who’s going to buy pro gear with no aftermarket value? Want to replace a HDD... that will be $960 at your authorized dealer thank you...

    First off, Macs retain their value. Most end-users use the product until it it is finished its productive life and then hand it down or sell it for a decent sum and upgrade to a newer machine. We have a 2013 MacBook Pro in the office that’s still chugging along and just updated a 2012 MacBook Air. The old machines are still usable. Macs not only retain their value, but continue to work long after they are supported by Apple.

    You are also quite myopic in your evaluation. No one is saying the device can’t be worked on out of warrantee. It just needs to be done by someone who is certified by Apple to do so. That’s it. That’s the only requirement. There are authorized Apple service centers all over. If it’s not nearby, you can mail it in.

    Lastly, your obvious use of hyperbole is astounding. Really? You think that’s what authorized service centers would charge for a replaceable hard drive? Mind you that modern Macs mostly have the storage soldered to the motherboard so you would need to replace that too. The whole notion is that your Mac has enough storage to work for most of what you need and if you need more storage, you have Thunderbolt 3 which is PCI Express on a cable running 40 gbit/sec. I think you’ll be fine. You’ll be able to buy 2 TB of SSD storage for $100 in 10 years and have all the storage you could need.

    PS: Macs don’t use HDD anymore... they use SSD.
    williamlondonbb-15
  • Reply 20 of 54
    in which kind of fantasy land do macs hold their value? I got a 2007,2011 and 2013 mac book pro sitting here cause no one wants. You welcome to buy them for 10k (aud) if you think they have held their value.
    Brony3535
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