Apple Patent Applications Look Toward Thunderbolt on iOS Devices

thunderbolt logoAn extensive report from Patently Apple today highlights three newly-published patent applications from Apple related in various ways to Thunderbolt technology. Among the topics gaining the most attention are mentions of Thunderbolt being used on iOS devices and the potential for faster charging enabled by better heat dissipation.

Before going into the details of this main patent in their series of three, it should be noted that Apple states in their secondary patent application that "the present invention, connection may also be a new type of connection." For example, "a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices."

The three patent applications cover such aspects as the basic pinout of the Thunderbolt connector and how the various wires are arranged within a cable, as well as methods for handling heat dissipation. With Thunderbolt cables containing integrated electronics, a relatively significant amount of heat can be generated and Apple's patent applications discuss how cable braiding and material choices can help manage that heat load.

The applications also discuss handling different voltages on Thunderbolt cables, acknowledging that it may be desirable to pass along higher voltages to devices for faster charging but that lower voltages would be required for simply passing data signals. To handle these voltage differences, Apple's patent applications describe methods for integrating voltage reduction circuitry only on those devices requiring the stepped-down voltage.

Patent applications are typically written to be as broadly applicable as possible while still being able to win acceptance by the patent examiner, and thus Apple's mention of Thunderbolt technology on "portable media player" devices may not be specifically pointing to imminent product plans. But Apple has revealed in past patent applications that it is interested in including DisplayPort technology (upon which Thunderbolt is based) in its current dock connector format used on iOS devices.

Tag: Patent

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Top Rated Comments

downpour Avatar
164 months ago
I really hope they kill the dock connector, I hate it.

My ideal solution would be magnetic, similar to the magsafe chargers but slimmer, with a stronger transition into the cable. Also, it really needs to attach either way around, so you can easily connect it in the dark.

This would mean you wouldn't need that horrible dust-trap at the bottom of your iphone/ipad perhaps just a slight indentation for location... but the magnets could help with this. It may also allow for waterproof idevices in the future.

They could also offer an adaptor so idevices with the new standard can be backwards compatible with existing equipment, like old speaker docks etc.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AidenShaw Avatar
164 months ago
yeah looking forward to my 1.5TB of video and data to move through iCould.

And you'll be "looking forward" for a long, long time.

Warning - personal anecdote follows...

During a remodel a few years ago I wired my house with structured cabling and Cat6 everywhere. (The kitchen alone has six Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 outlets on the walls at various locations - plus bedrooms, offices, home theatre - even the garage has a couple.)

Recently I started a copy of a 45 GB BD rip to one of the laptops sitting on the kitchen counter. After a short time - the progress bar said "7 hours remaining".

Aiden said "D'oh" and slapped himself in the forehead - the laptop was on WiFi (or as we call it "SlowFi"). Grabbed a Cat6 cable and gave the laptop a copper connection to the RJ45 jack a metre or so away. The laptop transparently switched from the SlowFi connection to the copper GbE, and a minute later the progress bar said "12 minutes remaining".

It amazes me when people say things like "we don't need local disks - we have the cloud". Totally clueless about the bandwidth needs of applications vs. the bandwidth available to the massively overwhelmingly large portion of ISP customers.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fazzy Avatar
164 months ago
I wonder when (or if?) These will be for sale? Its highly unlikely they'll be sold with the device, way too many people don't have thunderbolt computers, so knowing Apple, they'll be $50 for a 15cm cable:rolleyes:
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fletch33 Avatar
164 months ago
if there is one thing i have enjoyed over these many years with my Macs it is definitely the "almost" proprietary adapters (NOT) lol

just go with USB3 and keep our cost down.

every time i plug in my mini-HDMI adapter when i could be using my micro-HDMI adapter (that everything else i own uses and carries sound) it drives me crazy.

although like most of us not enough to stop buying them every year :)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rikscha Avatar
164 months ago
How can Apple apply for these patents when Thunderbolt is supposedly an Intel property ?

they both developed thunderbolt together.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
osx11 Avatar
164 months ago
I doubt it.

The future will be all-wireless.

They would have to integrate Thunderbolt technology into the dock connector because the typical Thunderbolt/DisplayPort connector is already to thick for iPhone/ipad/ipod.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)