Apple’s Lightning Digital AV adapter may look ordinary enough on the outside – but some investigative work done by iOS developer Panic reveals that there’s more to this little adapter than meets the eye. Thanks to some quick hacksaw work, Panic reveals that the adapter actually packs its own ARM system-on a chip. Yes, that’s right – it’s actually a tiny, fully-functional computer!
You would not believe how incredibly tiny those components are on the left. Smaller than anything we’ve seen, electronics-wise. […]
Your eyes don’t deceive you — that tiny chip says ARM. And the H9TKNNN2GD part number on there points towards RAM — 2Gb worth.
In short: it appears the Lightning Digital AV Adapter has a SoC CPU. So, AirPlay (or AirPlay-like MPEG streaming) makes a lot more sense now.
While Panic initially thought that the device could function as an Apple TV-like AirPlay receiver, but according to a commenter on the post, who claims to be an Apple engineer, the device isn’t an AirPlay receiver at all (:
Airplay is not involved in the operation of this adapter.
The reason why this adapter exists is because Lightning is simply not capable of streaming a “raw” HDMI signal across the cable. Lightning is a serial bus. There is no clever wire multiplexing involved. Contrary to the opinions presented in this thread, we didn’t do this to screw the customer. We did this to specifically shift the complexity of the “adapter” bit into the adapter itself, leaving the host hardware free of any concerns in regards to what was hanging off the other end of the Lightning cable. […]
Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable. Given the dynamic nature of the system (and the fact that the firmware is stored in RAM rather then ROM), updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can’t say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.
Regardless of how the adapter works, the $50 premium no longer seems as outrageous as it did before – that $50 is getting you a tiny, fully functional computer! The comment also notes that Apple could easily update the adapter in the future to support full 1080p output, which it currently is not capable of.
Pretty cool stuff!