Apple Thunderbolt Display Teardown Reveals Plethora of Hardware Inside

thunderbolt display teardown
iFixit has managed to get its hands on one of Apple's new Thunderbolt displays, subjecting it to one of the firm's usual thorough teardowns. iFixit was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to disassemble the new display, and upon opening found a considerable amount of hardware inside to support the display and the docking station functions included in the package.

Both sides of the logic board are packed with enough chips that it’s hard to believe there’s no computer inside this display. Standouts include:

- Pericom PI7C9X440SL PCIe-to-USB 2.0 host controller
- L129NB11 EFL, which looks to be the Thunderbolt port controller
- Analog Devices ADAV4601 audio processor
- NXP LPC2144 USB 2.0 microcontroller
- Delta LFE9249 10/100/1000 Base-T LAN filter
- SMSC USB2517-JZX USB 2.0 hub controller
- Maxim MAX9736B Mono/Stereo high-power Class D amplifier
- LSI L-FW643E-2 open host controller interface
- Broadcom BCM57761 Gigabit ethernet controller
- Supertex HV9982 3-channel switch-mode LED driver IC

The display also includes an integrated 49-watt, 2.1-speaker sound system with a small 1-inch subwoofer, as well as a 720p FaceTime camera and integrated microphone.

thunderbolt display logic board port
Thunderbolt port on logic board for accepting incoming connection

As for the display itself, iFixit discovered an LG LM270WQ1 panel inside, the same as that used in Apple's Late 2009 27-inch iMac. Interestingly, the Thunderbolt cable carrying signal to the display is connected to an actual Thunderbolt port mounted on the logic board rather than hardwiring the cable directly to the logic board. The Thunderbolt cable is secured to the logic board port with a cover screwed down on top of the connector.

We chatted with iFixit's Miro Djuric about the curious observation that Mini DisplayPort displays can not be daisy chained off of an Apple Thunderbolt Display unless another Thunderbolt device is placed between the two displays in the chain, but the teardown unfortunately does not reveal the source of this limitation.

Some speculation has centered around the possibility that a single Thunderbolt controller chip may not have the ability to output the display signal required for both the included display panel and a connected Mini DisplayPort display panel. A separate Thunderbolt chip, such as one found in an intermediary peripheral device, may be required to generate the signal for the Mini DisplayPort panel at the end of the chain.

Update: AnandTech last week provided a good technical explanation of the daisy chaining limitations.

If you connect a Mac to the Thunderbolt Display what is sent is a Thunderbolt signal. DisplayPort is broken off and sent to the display but there's no way to propagate an additional DisplayPort signal to any other non-TB displays in the chain. The output on the Thunderbolt Display is literally a Thunderbolt output, it can't double as DisplayPort.

However, if you connect another Thunderbolt device that uses Light Ridge you can split any additional DisplayPort signals out of the chain. In other words, if you connect the Thunderbolt Display to a Promise Pegasus you can then chain on another DP panel.

(Thanks, @foresmac)

Related Roundup: Apple Pro Display XDR
Related Forum: Mac Accessories

Top Rated Comments

Shrink Avatar
130 months ago
That's the sexiest thing I've seen all day.

Bad day!!! :eek: :rolleyes:
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lagmonster Avatar
130 months ago
Apple should really add MagSafe power connection to the Mini.

I would not want Magsafe on something that can't switch to battery power.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djrod Avatar
130 months ago
I'm curious as to the feasibility of having this display being sort of a chassis for future Apple products. If it were me I would use that internal display port as a link between the external I/O and whatever computing hardware you might use. Basically meaning that Apple could build a standardized set of motherboards for various products that they could reuse. I'm sure it wouldn't take too much work to find space for some MacBook Air or Mac Mini guts in there. Just an idea obviously.

Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Torrijos Avatar
130 months ago
Really a bummer that Apple wouldn't put a third party USB 3 controller in this, it would have been just perfect.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DeaconGTG Avatar
130 months ago
What is a plethora?

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mTUmczVdik
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OrangeSVTguy Avatar
130 months ago
That's the sexiest thing I've seen all day.
Sounds like you need some female company...
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
iOS 15 icon on phone

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to Developers

Tuesday August 17, 2021 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming one week after Apple released the fifth betas. Registered developers can download the profile for the iOS and iPadOS betas from the Apple Developer Center, and once the profile is installed, beta updates will be available over the air. iOS 15 is a major update that...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
it home ecommerce app iphone 13

iPhone 13 to Launch on September 17, AirPods 3 on September 30, Claims Report

Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:42 am PDT by
Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 13 on Friday, September 17 and third-generation AirPods on Thursday, September 30, according to an image of an e-commerce app discovered by Chinese language site IT Home. The screenshot, originally posted by Weibo account @PandaIsBald, suggests all four iPhone 13 models will go on sale on September 17, followed by the AirPods 3 on September 30....
MacBook Pro Coating

Apple Launches Quality Program for MacBook Pro Anti-Reflective Coating Issues

Saturday October 17, 2015 7:58 am PDT by
Apple has issued an internal notice about a new Quality Program that addresses anti-reflective coating issues on MacBook and MacBook Pro models with Retina displays, as confirmed by multiple sources. These issues include the anti-reflective coating on displays wearing off or delaminating under certain circumstances. Apple will replace Retina displays on affected MacBook or MacBook Pro models ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...