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Print 17 comment(s) - last by Darksurf.. on Jun 6 at 10:21 PM


  (Source: Intel)
New standard relies on smarter controller chip to offer optimized 20 Gbps bi-directional flow

At the 2013 Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan Intel Corp. (INTCunveiled its next generation successor to Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2.

Released in 2011, the original Thunderbolt was championed by Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  Many derided its expensive proprietary cables and the lack of peripherals.  But on paper the technology impressed with four uni-directional 10 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) channels.

Today there's many more compatible devices (roughly 80 by Intel's reckoning) and cable prices have begun to relax.  At the same time adoption among Windows personal computer makers has begun to heat up, thanks to roughly 30 compatible motherboards.

That's where Thunderbolt 2 comes enters the fray.

Thunderbolt 2
Thunderbolt line


Scheduled to land before the end of 2013, with a ramp up in 2014, the second generation technology uses a new controller chip to merge the uni-directional channels into two 20 Gbps bi-directional channels.  This will allow faster speeds when driving data primarily in a single direction (e.g. when copying files to a backup hard drive, etc.).

The good news for consumers is that owners of current generation Thunderbolt cables will be able to reuse them -- the cable design remains unchanged.  

Intel says that the new standard, previously codenamed "Falcon Ridge" will be useful in transferring 4K video from devices.  Currently transferring this resolution's massive files is a relatively slow and onerous process, depending on the video length.

Source: Intel



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What can transfer at these speeds?
By Space69Monkey on 6/5/13, Rating: 0
RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By quiksilvr on 6/5/2013 7:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget that this can primarily be used for daisy chaining. The whole point behind Thunderbolt is that it gives you so much bandwidth that multiple devices can be connected human centipede style and doesn't get bottlenecked.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Argon18 on 6/6/2013 11:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
Human Centipede style?? Gross, lol.

But yeah, SCSI and Firewire shared that same advantage over IDE and USB in their heyday.

Not to mention that Thunderbolt can be used for video displays, which have a high bandwidth requirement. One 1080p60 display needs ~4.5 Gb/s.


By Darksurf on 6/6/2013 10:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm an AMD fanboy myself, but I'm very interested in this Technology. This could be the next "multi port" like USB is today. Serial? Gone! LPT/Parallel? Gone! PS2? Gone!

Next? USB? Firewire? VGA? DVI? HDMI? Esata? Proprietary Tablet cables (Samsung, ASUS)? Thunderbolt 2 possibly Trumps it all. Why have 3 or 4 different port types when all you need is 1 and it daisy chains?!

Heck, can we make this the new power cable?! They were experimenting with making USB3/4 just that.

As long as this doesn't have direct and unwarranted access to the RAM like firewire (BIG NO-NO!) I'm totally game!


By UnauthorisedAccess on 6/6/2013 6:09:23 PM , Rating: 2
I saw the movie. He tried in vain to stay bottlenecked though couldn't stop the inevitable data flow.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Shadowself on 6/5/2013 8:22:34 PM , Rating: 5
The link connection for UHDTV (2160x3840) or 4K (2160x3840) at 24 bits per pixel (bpp) and 60 Hz or higher refresh including all the video overhead (overscan pixels, front/back porch bits, retrace bits, etc.) and transmission protocol overhead requires more than 10 Gbps. That's why Intel is pushing this as a bonded pair of 10 Gbps channels. A single 20 Gbps bonded channel will have plenty of headroom for UHDTV or 4K at 24 bpp and 60 Hz. The original Thunderbolt can't do that. And coincidentally, DP 1.1 and HDMI 1.4x won't either. That's why Thunderbolt will support DP 1.2. HDMI will support these rates when HDMI 2.0 comes out.

And as for your "no consumer grade RAID will even make use of this." statement. A consumer can buy a 4 drive SSD raid than can be configured as a RAID 0. (A commercial system would probably implement RAID 5 or 6.) If you look around you can see them advertised in the typical places. That can flood Thunderbolt 1.0. Unless you're doing UHDTV or 4K or 8K work you don't really need that throughput, but a "consumer" could buy it today.

And standards are not built for today. They often get stuck for 3-5 years (sometimes more). Besides this won't be shipping in quantity until at least the first half of 2014 -- almost a year from now. Who's to say that a single SSD won't be doing more than 10 Gbps in three or more years? I certainly won't.

Independent of all of that was the original promise of Thunderbolt that it never fulfilled: You could have a laptop connected to an external PCIe chassis with a decent graphics card in it through Thunderbolt and a high resolution (e.g., 2560x1440) through Thunderbolt. Thus you could have an light ultrabook for travel that could "dock" with an external card cage and a nice monitor when back at home or the office.

Thunderbolt 1.0 has not come through on this promise. The bandwidth was just too limited. Thunderbolt 2 gets closer, but until they put two or more Thunderbolt 2 channels together, it's not going to happen.


By Labotomizer on 6/6/2013 12:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
It's not uncommon for us to use 4+ 10Gb Fiber interfaces for storage because we need that kind of storage going to an EMC or NetApp storage system. And consumers, while they lag behind, will eventually want that on home NAS and SAN devices. So you make a very good point there.

To me the idea of external computing is where Thunderbolt is most exciting in the home space. It's 20Gb per channel, you could have both channels going to a chassis that has an external GPU and additional CPU resources. Combine that with a phone or tablet with a Thunderbolt 2 docking interface running to that and a storage pool and suddenly the possibilities really open up. That should be something Microsoft starts to push heavily with Surface. Change the Pro to an Atom based CPU with an i7 available to sit on the desk. Would it be cheap? No. But if my tablet could replace my desktop I would do it in a heartbeat.


By Bytre on 6/6/2013 1:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
It is becoming common in the professional video production industry to use multiple 2 drive SSD NAS over thunderbolt for desktop production.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By crimsonson on 6/5/2013 9:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
For things like a laptop docking station - you can provide monitor, USB 3, eSATA, etc. with one single cable.

RAID drives for Thunderbolt are decent pricing for prosumer level. The Promise RAID is one of the fastest RAID box out there when compared to SAS. With current SATA/SAS to USB 3 chipsets are bandwidth limited, Thunderbolt now is the better storage solution for prosumers. USB 3 for consumers.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Silver2k7 on 6/6/2013 5:39:45 AM , Rating: 3
USB3 will get a chipset update to 10Gbit/s.
so it will be twice as fast as todays USB3.

SATA Express will be avalible in 2014, in 2 versions 8Gbit/s and 16Gbit/s.

so faster interfaces all around :)


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Argon18 on 6/6/13, Rating: 0
RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Jaybus on 6/6/2013 12:24:14 PM , Rating: 3
They are for different purposes. USB uses far less power. Thunderbolt controllers use several Watts of power, whereas USB controllers use mW power levels. It is like comparing an ARM A7 to a Xeon. It's not crippled by its miniscule power bus. The lower bus power and low power usage allow it to be used in small, low poer devices.

The two do not compete with each other at all, really. There are separate uses for both.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By Argon18 on 6/6/2013 12:51:39 PM , Rating: 1
I agree that they do not compete, however many consumers and peripheral makers don't see it the same way. USB Bus powered hard drives are commonplace in the consumer market, even though USB is poorly suited to both bus-powering a hard drive, and poorly suited to bulk data transfer. The reality is there is consumer market overlap between the USB and Thunderbolt.


By Silver2k7 on 6/6/2013 1:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
The new USB3 10Gbit/s is getting more power also. I don't recall how much, but it was improved for sure.


RE: What can transfer at these speeds?
By sixteenornumber on 6/6/2013 3:06:02 AM , Rating: 2
Enterprise? I would love to have that kind of bandwidth on my home LAN! I'm so sick of being stuck with Gbit eth at home. My large pool of drives at home pushes around 1GB/s while my SSD raid sits at around 2GB/s. If only i could get more than around 125MB/s without spending thousands on my home network.


By Jaybus on 6/6/2013 12:42:24 PM , Rating: 2
The limitation is trying to drive an electrical signal at high frequency over copper. Optical networking is the way forward, but is currently expensive due to all of the optical components needed, thus remains in the realm of "enterprise".

Intel and others are working on integrated optical components made of silicon, or so-called "silicon photonics". In fact, Intel Silocon Photonics group's original plan was for a low cost optical Thunderbolt. It hasn't panned out yet because nobody has figured out how to make an integrated on-chip laser in a cheap way. All of the other parts, lenses, waveguides, etc., are ready for integration, but not the light source. Again, physics is getting in the way of our high speed home networking.

Sooner or later, we will all enjoy Tbps Ethernet, but not over copper.


Hold on a minute!!
By StanO360 on 6/5/2013 8:01:32 PM , Rating: 2
What did they do with Thunderbolt #1? No one told me!!! It must have been a super secret stealth release!




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