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Apple is keeping it pricey with a $49 cable for its new Thunderbolt interface.  (Source: Ubergizmo)

  (Source: iFixIt)

Apple's Thunderbolt cable contains over 10 chips  (Source: iFixIt)
But this cable has chips, so it must be worth it!

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is borrowing a play from Monster Cables offering a cable that's almost as pricey as the peripherals it plans to support.  The new Thunderbolt cable will retail for $49 USD.

Plugging in to the Mini Display Port of new MacBook Pros and iMacs, the cable offers support for "Thunderbolt", a new high speed communications standard from Intel Corp. (INTC).  With the first peripheral (a RAID drive bay from Pegasus) launching, attention has turned to this pricey little number.

IFixIt tore the white cable apart and found a pair of Gennum GN2033 chips hiding beneath the sheathing, with one on each connector of the cable.  In total there were also 10 other smaller tiny chips and an assortment of transistors, etc.

Gennum's webpage brags that its chip takes normal cables and offers "sophisticated signal boosting and detection functions required to transfer high-speed data without errors."

Of course nobody seems to know how much these chips cost so it's hard to say exactly how much profit Apple is pulling in off the cables.

Adoption is expected to be slow for the standard.  Like Apple's original Firewire standard, the price of the communications band (in this case the cable) offers a barrier for market entry.  It doesn't help that Hewlett-Packard, Company (HPQ) already abandoned plans for Thunderbolt, or that Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) has released a special version of the tech that relies on a modified USB 3.0 optical port.  

And there's the question of USB 3.0, which has already seen much more broad adoption.  USB 3.0 offers transfer speeds of up to 4 Gbit/s.  While only about half the speed of the current Thunderbolt implementation, that's still pretty blazing fast so the question remains how many customers will actually notice a difference.

To Monster Cables' credit, at least it only charges $29 for its "gold-plated" USB 2.0 cables, which it brags "rejects noise" and works to "maximize signal integrity."  Sound familiar?

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RE: Pricing?
By 91TTZ on 6/30/2011 2:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you guys are too young to remember when the cheapest usable SCSI cables were $50.

A SCSI cable is a lot harder to make, though. It had 50-80 individual wires inside that all were insulated, and the connector was much larger and had a lot more contacts. This Thunderbolt cable has less than half that.

RE: Pricing?
By messele on 6/30/2011 3:29:08 PM , Rating: 3
Absolute nonsense, SCSI cables of whatever flavour were really no more sophisticated than any other ribbon cable and the science was in the design - manufacturing costs were not massive as the design had taken care of how the thing went together and that is very easily.

Since you are counting contacts, lets examine how exactly you pack all of that stuff into a connector sheath that is 8mm or so square. I think there is a hell of a lot of tech in there for $50 and it's not like you need one for anything as mundane as a camera or printer so the USB comparisons are irrelevant.

Plus let's not forget Intel's hand in this, but don't let that get in the way of a bit of desperate Apple bashing.

RE: Pricing?
By Motoman on 6/30/2011 7:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, can also depend on whether or not terminators were built into the cable...and also, I would imagine the low volume of SCSI stuff compared to IDE had something to do with it too.

...I don't remember SCSI cables being $50, but I remember them being significantly more expensive than IDE cables - especially once you factored in the terminator.

RE: Pricing?
By messele on 7/1/2011 2:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed but you may recall that the terminator block was just a big pack of resistors anyway, it was something you could build yourself if you were so inclined at a fraction of the price.

Irrespective SCSI was an incredibly expensive system, I remember building a card into a PC back in 1993 just so I could have a decent performance CD-ROM drive (Toshiba Caddy Load, wooo!) and the sum for that little lot was over £500 (probably near $900 back then).

Then there was the Seagate 2Gb SCSI hard drive on the same bus. A bargain at £1200...

RE: Pricing?
By 91TTZ on 7/1/2011 5:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
Apple bashing? How was I Apple bashing?

RE: Pricing?
By messele on 7/3/2011 7:43:37 AM , Rating: 2
You weren't but the article in general is.

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