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Apple Removes Last Remnants of Intel Silicon, AMD Rembrandt Follows Suit

Apple uses new USB4 retimer
(Image credit: iFixIt)

Apple has removed the last remnants of Intel silicon from its Mac computers. Repair instructions and tools specialist iFixIt recently took one of the newest MacBooks to pieces (an M2 processor model) and discovered that Intel USB4 timer chips on previous generations had been swapped out for another brand.

As noted by Twitter user SkyJuice, this component change was spotted in an iFixIt Teardown last week, and it marks a sad milestone for Intel with regard to its Apple relationship. In the zoomed detail motherboard pic, you will notice two chips which carry the codename ‘U09PY3’. Apparently, previous MacBooks were using Intel's JHL8040R Retimer chips for USB4 and Thunderbolt support.

(Image credit: iFixIt)

We don’t know who has made the new U09PY3 USB4 retimer chip, The source indicates it is a custom design, and we can’t get any further information from the markings in the image. Apple hasn’t said anything publicly about this change, and it isn’t expected to. It will have probably changed this chip for supply chain or cost reasons. Another reason behind a switch could be dissatisfaction with the Intel JHL8040R retimer, but again we haven’t heard any mutterings about this.

On the topic of keeping Intel outside, SkyJuice also noted that AMD’s newest Rembrandt laptops have eschewed any Intel USB4 relationship. Instead, AMD has decided to go for retimers such as the KB8001 'Matterhorn' from Swiss startup Kandou. This company claims its USB4 retimer chips are “deployed in products from five of the top six PC OEMs.” Moreover, its USB4 retimer is compatible with all SoC platforms.

Regular readers will know of Intel’s deep ties with the USB4 standard, which was built on the foundation of Thunderbolt 3. Thus USB4 supports up to 40 Gbps transfers, DP Alt mode monitor connectivity, some Thunderbolt 3 device compatibility, and up to 100W power delivery. Please note the ‘up to’ stats, and don’t mistake them for minimums. For a deeper dive into USB4 check out our USB4 explainer article, and another article we created with a simple table comparing the differences between USB4, USB 3, Thunderbolt 4, and Thunderbolt 3.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • dehjomz
    Even if they're not using Intel chips in the flesh, let's not forget that Intel donated thunderbolt to the USB-IF for USB4... so they're still using Intel's design, in spirit at least. Plus, by opening up thunderbolt to a broader audience, Intel paved the way for competitors to enter the market... I'm looking forward to when 3rd party USB4 designs come to docking stations and NVME SSD enclosures.

    Would be interesting to know what change, if any, the non-Intel chips bring to the Mac. For example, USB3 speeds, or compatibility with TB4 docking stations? With respect to TB4 docking stations, Apple's M1 Pro/Max machines have a weird compatibility issue with certain TB4 docks...That is, when the system is restarted if the dock is attached and then the system subsequently goes to sleep, when it awakens from sleep, usb and thunderbolt devices attached to the dock may drop out... The solution with such docking stations is whenever you restart an M1 Pro/Max machine, briefly disconnect the dock and then hotplug it, and then it should function normally, and not have any issues during sleep / wake from sleep. I wonder if the new chips in M2 address this issue?
    Reply
  • maik80
    dehjomz said:
    Even if they're not using Intel chips in the flesh, let's not forget that Intel donated thunderbolt to the USB-IF for USB4... so they're still using Intel's design, in spirit at least. Plus, by opening up thunderbolt to a broader audience, Intel paved the way for competitors to enter the market... I'm looking forward to when 3rd party USB4 designs come to docking stations and NVME SSD enclosures.

    Would be interesting to know what change, if any, the non-Intel chips bring to the Mac. For example, USB3 speeds, or compatibility with TB4 docking stations? With respect to TB4 docking stations, Apple's M1 Pro/Max machines have a weird compatibility issue with certain TB4 docks...That is, when the system is restarted if the dock is attached and then the system subsequently goes to sleep, when it awakens from sleep, usb and thunderbolt devices attached to the dock may drop out... The solution with such docking stations is whenever you restart an M1 Pro/Max machine, briefly disconnect the dock and then hotplug it, and then it should function normally, and not have any issues during sleep / wake from sleep. I wonder if the new chips in M2 address this issue?
    Thunderbolt technology was developed with Apple, so it's not necessarily an Intel product
    Reply
  • dehjomz
    maik80 said:
    Thunderbolt technology was developed with Apple, so it's not necessarily an Intel product
    That might be true. But it is Intel that certifies thunderbolt and owns the trademarks. Intel implemented usb4 support in the Linux kernel. It donated tb3 to the usb-if so that tb tech (pcie tunelling displayport tunelling etc) can be brought to a wider audience at a lower cost. ASMedia is bringing usb4 support to market soon… some amd am5 motherboards may use that controller for usb4 support.
    Reply
  • passivecool
    It is difficult for me to say this, but... whatever intel can produce, even apple can make better. Pat, pray for better weather!
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    US: We need to rebuild America's semi-conductor industry.
    Apple: good luck with that.
    China invades Taiwan
    Apple: please, intel, we beg you, fab our chip designs.

    You know what they say: what goes around.....
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    passivecool said:
    It is difficult for me to say this, but... whatever intel can produce, even apple can make better. Pat, pray for better weather!
    Anybody can take the ARM designs and make something specialized that is better than something general, but you are screwed if somebody buys them out like nvidia tried recently or as jason said what if they lose their fabs.
    This is the forth time apple changed to a completely different CPU in recent history.
    Also intel' revenue did not drop even a little bit ever since apple switched to ARM so it's smooth sailing for Pat.
    Reply