Apple planning to put Thunderbolt in iOS devices, patent reveals

6 Jan 2012

Using Thunderbolt, a full HD Blu-ray movie could be transferred in less than 30 seconds

Apple is planning to make Intel’s Thunderbolt high-speed data transfer technology available for future iOS devices, new patents filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office reveal.

One of the patents points to a “connection provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player or between other types of devices.”

Intel’s Thunderbolt I/O technology debuted in March last year in a quad-core iMac and in July last year with Apple’s newest MacBook Air, which also came with Intel Core i5 and i7 dual-core processors.

Through a single cable, users can connect to high-performance peripherals and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display. Thunderbolt can easily be adapted to support legacy connections, such as FireWire and Gigabit Ethernet.

Thunderbolt enables data transfer at a rate of 10Gbps and is seen as the successor to USB cables.

Apple is believed to be experimenting with 30-pin connectors that would support Thunderbolt connections.

The challenge for Apple augmenting Thunderbolt to support iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone is mainly physics and, according to Patently Apple, its Thunderbolt-related patent may provide speed connector inserts and cables with improved heat conduction that can be manufactured in a reliable manner.

Apple will have to re-engineer the connector to be flat enough to fit a USB-type of device slot. “The good news is that transferring data to and from an iOS device will be lighting fast, as will recharging,” said Patently Apple.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years