Thunderbolt technology - A primer

Thunderbolt technology - A primer

Summary: Intel has lifted the lid on its much-anticipated Thunderbolt I/O technology. Here's a quick rundown of what we know about this new technology.

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TOPICS: Intel
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Intel has lifted the lid on its much-anticipated Thunderbolt I/O technology. Here's a quick rundown of what we know about this new technology.

  • Dual-channel offering a whopping 10Gbps per port (to put that into perspective you can push a full-length HD movie through the connection in less than 30 seconds).
  • The port is bi-directional, so it offers 10Gbps in both directions simultaneously.
  • Dual-protocol support for PCI Express and DisplayPort.
  • Fully compatible with existing DisplayPort devices.
  • Daisy-chain up to six peripherals (compare this to Firewire which supports 63 devices, and USB which supports 127).
  • Supplies 10W of power over bus  to peripherals.
  • Supports electrical (copper) or optical (fibre optic) cabling.
  • Low latency.
  • Supports HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)/HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection)
  • Apple is the first to offer Thunderbolt to its customers.

Note: Thunderbolt is an Intel trademark term, not Apple.

"Working with HD media is one of the most demanding things people do with their PCs," said Mooly Eden, general manager, PC Client Group, Intel. "With Thunderbolt technology, Intel has delivered innovative technology to help professionals and consumers work faster and more easily with their growing collection of media content, from music to HD movies. We've taken the vision of simple, fast transfer of content between PCs and devices, and made it a reality."

"We're thrilled to collaborate with Intel to bring the groundbreaking Thunderbolt technology to Mac users," said Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president of Mac Hardware Engineering. "With ultra-fast transfer speeds, support for high-resolution displays and compatibility with existing I/O technologies, Thunderbolt is a breakthrough for the entire industry and we think developers are going to have a blast with it."

Several innovative companies have announced Thunderbolt technology-based products, or currently plan to support Thunderbolt technology in upcoming products, including Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, LaCie, Promise, and Western Digital. Intel is working with the industry on a range of Thunderbolt technology-enabled products including computers, displays, storage devices, audio/video devices, cameras, docking stations and more.

Topic: Intel

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24 comments
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  • It sounds pretty sweet.

    I could see this being very useful--hopefully Intel won't charge exorbitant amounts and make it prohibitively expensive to put in all kinds of computers.
    rlorenz
    • Adrian: it is not "Intel has listed", it is "Intel and Apple have lifted"

      It was developed in collaboration within these two companies.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

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    • Apple invented mini Display Port that became physical port for Thunderbolt

      @rlorenz
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

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      • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

        @DeRSSS
        This is a very impressive collaboration headed by Intel. Thanks for the dGFX graphic too, this one will be handy to use when I'm trying to explain this
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    • Intel confirmed that Apple will exclusively hold Thunderbolt this year

      @rlorenz
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      • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

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    • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

      @rlorenz <br>It looks cool, I just wonder how practical it is compared to existing technology like, fiber optics since this is the basis of the technology. The one thing it looks quite good for is media streaming within the home, and most ethernet applications would not benefit as the routers are incapable of such speeds. This will take a while to implement on the whole if at all, the existing technologies are cheaper, less power hungry and already in place. It will be interesting to see how well (or not so well) this technology is implemented over the next few years.
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    • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

      @rlorenz Oh yes it does, sweet and hot. thunderbolt is revolutionary.
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  • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

    Firewire on steroids :-)
    kitko
    • Spot on

      The power surprises me, it's a great move. There were two things Firewire had over USB: good power and independent controllers. Seems Light Peak -- ooops Thunderbolt -- has fixed both those issues.
      Fred Fredrickson
  • As long as the industry can drop the Apple exclusive stuff ....

    it sounds like progress, otherwise grab your ankles!
    ;-)
    kd5auq
  • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

    One can hope there will be a Tbolt - USB connector.
    THavoc
    • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

      @THavoc : yep a USB connector linked to a Thunderbolt port which accesses a DB9 connected mouse. Wow. You'll see Windows fly in this setup.
      cosuna
  • RE: Thunderbolt technology - A primer

    Yes!
    james347
  • Sounds great, but...

    ...hearing about the media uses, my cynical side wants to say:
    "Phenomenal possibilities but itty bitty amounts actually implemented due to crippling copy protection safeguards."
    I hope I'm wrong.
    Zorched