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Apple awarded patent for dock connector: USB 3.0, Thunderbolt

Apple have been granted a patent for a new modified dock connector which is compatible with new high speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and a dual lane Displayport, or Thunderbolt connector.

This connector is called the ‘Reduced Size Multi Pin Male Plug Connector' has been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday and describes a smaller 30 pin dock connector with updated connection standards.

The filing reads “Some embodiments of the present invention can provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards” which mentions USB 3.0 and Displayport as examples of the standards.

The device in the drawing above is an iPod, but the invention will relate to other mobile devices and even laptop and desktop computers. The multipurpose connector can handle power, data as well as audio and video signals. One version shows USB 2 contacts, four USB 3 contact, USB power and a ground. DisplayPort could be transfered at 1.3MP with one lane, 1.8MP with two lanes and 4.1MP when all four lanes are active. There is no mention about backwards compatibility.

Intel introduced the Thunderbolt interconnect technology in February, right as Apple released the new Macbook Pros, which are the first machines to use the new specification. This was initially called ‘Light Peak' and it offers PCI Express interconnect speeds up to 10GBps and utilises the Apple conceived Mini DisplayPort. At the start the plans were to use fiber optic cabling for the technology, but due to cost related concerns it is now using copper wiring.

KitGuru says: Is this the future?

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