Since the iPhone 5 launch it became clear the new and way expensive Lightning cable packs some sort of a security chip inside and because of that – the cheap Chinese knock-off cables won’t work.
New findings by the awesome guys at Chipworks however lead us to believe there’s hope for cheaper cables. When Chipworks carried their teardown of the Lightning cable, they discovered it contains four chips – two of them very simple with just a couple of (power) transistors, a third, the NXP NX20P3, which is responsible for charging and finally, a mysterious fourth chip – the TI BQ2025.
This tiny fella manufactured by Texas Instruments is undocumented in TI’s database but there are four others close to it already cataloged in there. They are all battery fuel gauges, three of them serial EFPROMs and the last one – a battery monitor IC. All these terms here are not really important though. What you need to know is BQ2022, BQ2023, BQ2024 and BQ2026 all have one thing in common – they all feature some kind of security. It just makes sense for BQ2025 to deliver security features as well. And this tiny fella is probably the sole reason why all cheap cables just don’t work.
The positive thing from this investigation is that according to Chipworks, the security is far from “herculean”, it’s there to be “just enough” to deter the making of the knock-off cables, but without burdening Apple’s manufacturing costs by much. Chipsworks compare the level of security to “the level of effort that cartridge manufacturers used to implement in the olden days”, which obviously has been overcome many times.
So, there you have it. Apple’s done this so you can’t buy cheap Chinese replicas, at least for now.
Those of you who don’t want to spend a pile of cash on a set of original USB cables, should probably wait just a bit longer before those tiny chips get replicated into $3 cables.
Source | Via