Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter Teardown

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by repoman27, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. repoman27, Aug 23, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012

    repoman27 macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2011
    Curiosity has been known to be hazardous to cats, but in this case it can chalk up the demise of one of Apple’s new Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapters.

    Recently Hardmac (Macbidouille) performed a teardown of the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter which resulted in some rather controversial conclusions. These ponderings were then used as ammunition to defend the higher price of 3rd party Thunderbolt devices, the argument being that Apple was hitting the $29 price point by way of some chicanery and did not actually use a Thunderbolt controller in their design at all: (note the first response to the first comment by PRPechek, who claims to be a Buffalo employee)

    I didn’t buy it, so I decided to take a look-see for myself. It turns out, Hardmac just didn’t finish the job. So without further ado, here are the guts of the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter in all their glory:


    On the FireWire side we find an LSI L-FW643E-2, which is not terribly surprising as this seems to be Apple's preferred FW chip as of late.


    On the Thunderbolt side we see an NXP chip marked 1112/A, which I reckon to be an LPC1112FHN24 ARM Cortex-M0 micro-controller. This chip can be found in the Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, and is also present on the logic boards of all Thunderbolt equipped Macs in close proximity to the Thunderbolt port/controller. It is not, however, a component used in Apple's Thunderbolt cable.


    If we turn the Thunderbolt connector side of the adapter over, we find what Hardmac missed... An Intel DSL2210 Port Ridge Thunderbolt controller. At only 6x5 mm it's amazing how small this version of the controller is, and that you can hide one in the Thunderbolt connector itself.

    A full gallery with high resolution images is available here:

    The cable portions of Apple Thunderbolt adapters are not actually Thunderbolt cables at all—they're short PCIe 1.1 x1 cables. They're also fairly spectacular from an engineering standpoint. I counted three larger conductors for power, along with several aramid fibers for strength, surrounded by 11 absolutely tiny double-insulated wires each with its own braided shield. Together they were wrapped again with a foil shield, another braided shield and a jacket. The terminations for such small wires are pretty absurd—which I guess is why Apple patented the process.
  2. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    The miniaturization of these adapters is truly amazing. I love knowing i'm getting a full speed GigE or Firewire controller in such a small package.
  3. vnuEndru macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2014
    Guys, please help! there are 14 PCIe wires coming out from DSL2210 side, how to know which one do what? I know which ones is RX TX REFCLK and RST signals, but what about others. Is there way to know another signals?
  4. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    If you can get ahold of a DSL2210 data sheet, it should have descriptions.
  5. vnuEndru macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2014
    I tried to find data sheet for dsl2210 few days, but found nothing. I think its not available for public

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