O'Grady's PowerPage » Thunderbolt

Security researcher demonstrates Thunderbolt firmware hack proof of concept at Chaos Computer Congress

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 5th, 2015, 10:15
Category: Hack, Hardware, News, security, Thunderbolt


As great as Thunderbolt is, there are vulnerabilities to consider.

Per 9to5Mac, a security researcher speaking at the Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg demonstrated a hack that rewrites an Intel Mac’s firmware using a Thunderbolt device with attack code in an option ROM. Known as Thunderstrike, the proof of concept presented by Trammel Hudson infects the Apple Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) in a way he claims cannot be detected, nor removed by reinstalling OS X.

Since the boot ROM is independent of the operating system, reinstallation of OS X will not remove it. Nor does it depend on anything stored on the disk, so replacing the hard drive has no effect. A hardware in-system-programming device is the only way to restore the stock firmware.


iFixit posts their Mac Pro teardown

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 3rd, 2014, 09:54
Category: Apple, Hardware, Mac Pro, Take Apart, Thunderbolt

RtFlKRIVD1AnbWMo.mediumGadget teardown specialists, iFixit, have completed their full disassembly of the new Mac Pro and have given it an 8 out of 10 on the repairability scale. So what else did they find out? Best to head on over there for the full details (24 steps for the full take-apart), but here are a few of the juicy details (cherry-picked from the iFixit run-down);

  • it has taken some design pointers from the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule bodies: a thin, vertical design with individual boards on separate sides.
  • simply sliding the lock switch allows us to remove the outer casing of the Mac Pro. No stubborn pentalobe screws here!
  • The RAM in the Mac Pro Late 2013 is easily accessible and replaceable.
  • it is vented by a single fan, which pulls air from under the case, through the core, and out the top of the case.
  • it utilizes a giant triangular heat sink (“Thermal Core”), shared by the dual graphics cards and CPU.
  • the new graphics cards may be the key to Apple finally undercutting homebrew systems on a pure power basis.
  •  a CPU upgrade appears entirely possible.
  • The power supply has no dedicated cooling, and relies on the main system fan to keep cool—allowing the Mac Pro to idle at a whisper-quiet 12 dBA.
  • Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently.

In spite of the lack of internal, user-upgradeable disk space, the new Mac Pro is a far cry from the iMac which has gotten more and more difficult to do at-home repairs or upgrades upon. Here’s hoping that Apple plans to offer some internal component upgrade paths.

New Mac Pro has socketed Intel CPU

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 30th, 2013, 09:57
Category: Features, Intel, Mac Pro, Processors, Take Apart, Thunderbolt

mac_pro_2013_internals-250x340Now that people have started to get their hands on the new Mac Pro, naturally the first thing they do is to tear it apart to see what makes it tick. Since the announcement of the Mac Pros specs and hardware, potential buyers have been lamenting the lack of user-upgradeable components in the sleek, black cylinder. It may be one of the reasons Apple was able to make it so small, but that is little consolation to pro users who are used to having more flexibility with their hardware. So far it was believed that the only internal part that could be upgraded was the memory. Apple expects all other expansion to be done through the Mac Pro’s six, high-speed Thunderbolt 2 ports.