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Intel details Thunderbolt, says Apple has full year head start

post #1 of 132
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At a press conference earlier this morning, Intel offered additional information about its new Thunderbolt interconnect technology being pioneered by Apple in its latest batch of MacBook Pros, noting Apple will have a year long head start in deploying the technology.

As described in the First Look, the new specification pairs PCI Express with DisplayPort signaling in a collaboration with Apple. The PCI Express protocol was used because it's flexible and widely compatible with various types of I/O devices.

"You can extend the backbone of your computer to distributed devices that are connected to it," Intel representatives said, "and to the OS it looks like they're connected to the computer."

Based on work to develop an ultrafast new optical port originally named Light Peak, Intel's efforts to make the new low latency ("8 nanosecond accuracy time sync across 7 devices" for very little delay between operations), low overhead (hits much closer to the theoretical max than previous port specifications because of less background chat), high speed signaling standard was initially held back by the higher cost of optical cabling.

To reduce the cost, Intel collaborated with Apple to pair the technology with DisplayPort to deliver a single copper connection that was high performance and yet still economical.

By pairing the new interconnect with Mini DisplayPort (which Apple developed but has openly released as part of the DisplayPort specification), Thunderbolt should also help drive adoption of the Mini DisplayPort connector as well, which so far has largely been limited to Apple's own equipment. Other DisplayPort monitors from companies like Dell use a "full sized" connector that looks similar to USB, but which serves no value other than being larger.

The new standard is not backwardly compatible with USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt ports can't be added to existing PCs via an expansion card; Intel says the only way to have it is to buy a system or logic board that incorporates the new Thunderbolt controller chip. That's because the Thunderbolt chip needs direct access to both the system's video and PCI Express architecture.

PC makers are expected to begin adding Thunderbolt to their machines next spring, giving Apple a year to trailblaze the technology among high end users before it trickles down into the mainstream. Apple has partnered with Intel in the past to debut its new CPUs on Macs for a brief period, while the debut of DisplayPort (which is not an Intel standard) took a longer period to roll out.

PC makers and Microsoft were both slow to provide initial, enthusiastic support for USB, leaving it to Apple to kick-start widespread adoption. They rolled out USB 2.0 faster than Apple, and many now support USB 3.0 and eSATA, neither of which Apple has included on its machines.



Third party support

Thunderbolt supports two channels of 10Gbps (equivalent to about 1280MBps) transfers in both directions, simultaneously. Intel demonstrated actual throughputs of up to 6.25Gbps (800MBps) using prototype consumer products. There's very little overhead, Intel notes, compared to USB 3.0, which promises 5Gbps but can only possibly deliver throughput of about 3Gbps.

Very fast SATA interfaces are limited to 6Gbps, meaning Thunderbolt is currently much faster than most consumer devices you could attach to it, indicating the actual throughputs are likely running into the limits of SATA rather than reflecting the overhead of Thunderbolt itself.

Intel demonstrated Thunderbolt's daisy-chain feature attaching a MacBook Pro to a fast RAID, which then connected to a standard DisplayPort 1.1 monitor, performing high speed data transfers of multiple 1080p videos from a prototype Promise RAID device while delivering very high resolution 2K video to the display over the same cable.

Existing displays will work as long as they are the last device in the chain (because they don't have additional daisy-chain ports, and because they don't know how to pass through Thunderbolt if they did), so new monitors are not required. Hard drives and even video cameras are expected to supply two ports to enable chaining devices together like this.

Existing electrical copper cables can carry Thunderbolt signals for about 3 meters (about 10 feet) between devices, and carry 10 watts of power. In the future, fiber optic cables will be available to extend signals to "tens of meters." A purely optical cable won't deliver electrical power. Intel describes Thunderbolt as "a symmetric architecture that supports flexible topologies (star, tree, daisy chaining, etc.) and enables peer-to-peer communication (via software) between devices."



Third party support

The new port is already being supported by disk makers Promise and LaCie, with a voice of support from Western Digital (although not any products yet). Among media device makers, Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, and Universal Audio have all announced support as well.

LaCie demonstrated a "Little Big Disk" RAID device built using two Intel SSD drive configured into a RAID 0 stripe set. The drive (or multiple units) is capable of being powered by the Thunderbolt bus as well, reducing the need for additional power bricks. LaCie hasn't yet released a price or availability date for the new drive.

The company described Thunderbolt as allowing a notebook system to interface via a desktop workstation system via Thunderbolt, and then share all of the desktop's ports with the connected machine via the Thunderbolt interconnect. This will allow "thinner and lighter laptops, expandable through Thunderbolt technology and its miniature connector designed for mobile applications, without sacrificing I/O performance."

Docking stations were also listed among the potential applications for the new interconnect, with Intel noting that Thunderbolt can "extend to reach other I/O technologies by using adapters that use widely available PCI Express controllers. It's simple to create a Gigabit Ethernet, or FireWire, or eSATA adapters using existing device PCI Express drivers."
post #2 of 132
There goes adoption.

How could they be stupid enough to make this thing of beauty into another FireWire?!

Can't be added? Yeah fricking right. How long before someone makes a PCIe Thunderbolt card for Mac Pros? I don't care if those don't do video–that's why my graphics card exists–I just want the transfer speed.

Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #3 of 132
A full YEAR??? Holy shit. They've essentially killed the technology. Congrats.

Noone gives a shit if its exclusive if there are no, or hardly any compatible peripherals. It needs to be adopted NOW- in a year, USB 3.0 will probably have a massive headstart over this, as its incorporated into most windows machines. How utterly idiotic. Intel could have secured this as the future standard by incorporating it on all/most of its chipsets. Who's gonna incorporate compatibility for this in their peripherals when theres such a tiny percentile of potential users?
post #4 of 132
That is very very *BAD*

I was going wow the minidisplay port is going to get popular, then boom, exclusivity until 2012. WTF they want to make sure it doesnt work or what?

Apple "control-freak" attitude is going to kill the company some day.
post #5 of 132
Forget about copper. Where's the fiber?

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post #6 of 132
.... they REALLY get it wrong.

What a profoundly "head up ass" move.
post #7 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Forget about copper. Where's the fiber?

Fiber's 100Gbps and no power.
Copper's 10Gbps and power.

They'll both have their uses.

Originally Posted by Marvin

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #8 of 132
When can I use Thunderbolt for my LAN at home (or work)?

Screw Cat5 cables, I want dual 10GB+ channels to every device in my house!
post #9 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

At a press conference earlier this morning, Intel offered additional information about its new Thunderbolt interconnect technology being pioneered by Apple in its latest batch of MacBook Pros, noting Apple will have a year long head start in deploying the technology.

Amazing that some posters think this is bad news for Apple! Oh, that's right; we get lots of PC fanatics that post here....

\
post #10 of 132
Well if the iPad 2 has a Thunderbolt port, I imagine that we will be seeing quite a few peripherals being designed for it.

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post #11 of 132
Um... this is bad reporting. "One year head start" != exclusive. The difference is this: if it was the latter, I couldn't ask Intel for the support this year even if I paid them. The former just says that Apple had all the design documents before any other manufacturer did, but if they can hurry up with new products, Intel would be happy to let them release them.
post #12 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatdoro View Post

When can I use Thunderbolt for my LAN at home (or work)?
Screw Cat5 cables, I want dual 10GB+ channels to every device in my house!

Then you'll have to wait for the fiber implementations. Current Thunderbolt is 10 feet. Fiber Thunderbolt will be 100 meters and 100Gbps, but no power.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

Amazing that some posters think this is bad news for Apple! Oh, that's right; we get lots of PC fanatics that post here....

We also get Apple fanatics who cheered the rise of FireWire and wept at its death. The same thing is happening here.

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #13 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

Amazing that some posters think this is bad news for Apple! Oh, that's right; we get lots of PC fanatics that post here....

\

I want every device I purchase to have the new standard and the more computers that have it the faster it will become the new standard
post #14 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Forget about copper. Where's the fiber?

As has been reported previously (in a lot of tech sites) fiber optic use (for the time being) is not cost effective .... thus the initial roll out being copper ..... not that you won't find something wrong with this strategy. ....
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post #15 of 132
The title says this is exclusive to Apple until 2012. This is false. Anyone can release Thunderbolt tomorrow if they wanted to.

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post #16 of 132
I am happy to see I am not the only person who thinks this exclusivity idea is B.S. Does Apple WANT to kill off or at least SIGNIFICANTLY slow down the adoption of this new tech? Does Apple REALLY believe that people are going to switch to Apple hardware just for the privilege to use Thunderbolt/Light Peak?

Does anyone else just shake their heads when reading more and more about the dunderhead moves Apple is making as of late? I swear they are taking lessons from the Microsoft playbook!!!

Idiots.
post #17 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto Joe View Post

Amazing that some posters think this is bad news for Apple! Oh, that's right; we get lots of PC fanatics that post here....

\

Your thinking process is flawed. If Apple had applied this mentality to the iPod and not released PC support, it would have NEVER have taken off as it did. Simple fact...we "PC fanatics" outnumber you "Mac fanatics"....therefore if you want a tech to blossom you should provide it to the widest audience as possible. Makes sense, right?
post #18 of 132
Smart move by Apple.

Thunderbolt is a completely different beast than USB 3.0. Intel has been working on it for a long time and it's not going to disappear.

I don't think that this is the first time that Apple has been given first dibs on an Intel product. I don't care what's included on other machines. I only care about what's included on Macs. If somebody wants to use Thunderbolt right now then they only have one choice, buy a new mac laptop. Otherwise, they can wait.

If you wish to be on the cutting edge of things then that costs pesos.
post #19 of 132
I didn't see any other companies join Intel in developing this technology. Apple has every right to first dibs on Thunderbolt.
post #20 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

A full YEAR??? Holy shit. They've essentially killed the technology. Congrats.

Noone gives a shit if its exclusive if there are no, or hardly any compatible peripherals. It needs to be adopted NOW- in a year, USB 3.0 will probably have a massive headstart over this, as its incorporated into most windows machines. How utterly idiotic. Intel could have secured this as the future standard by incorporating it on all/most of its chipsets. Who's gonna incorporate compatibility for this in their peripherals when theres such a tiny percentile of potential users?

Thunderbolt can do USB 3.0, Firewire and more using adapters (they will come soon). USB 3.0 is dead. Has no support from Intel or the fastest growing pc company.
post #21 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

... Who's gonna incorporate compatibility for this in their peripherals when theres such a tiny percentile of potential users?

25% of the consumer computer market (the "top" expensive 25%), is not "a tiny percentile of computer users."
post #22 of 132
This is how Apple stays competitive! I love the idea.
post #23 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The company described Thunderbolt as allowing a notebook system to interface via a desktop workstation system via Thunderbolt, and then share all of the desktop's ports with the connected machine via the Thunderbolt interconnect. This will allow "thinner and lighter laptops, expandable through Thunderbolt technology and its miniature connector designed for mobile applications, without sacrificing I/O performance."

I hope they can get this working with a tablet/desktop combo.
post #24 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamewing View Post

Your thinking process is flawed. If Apple had applied this mentality to the iPod and not released PC support, it would have NEVER have taken off as it did. Simple fact...we "PC fanatics" outnumber you "Mac fanatics"....therefore if you want a tech to blossom you should provide it to the widest audience as possible. Makes sense, right?

Why would I care if Dell can't do Thunderbolt? Apple does and so will all the 3rd party companies that want to make money....most of them do;-)
post #25 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamewing View Post

I am happy to see I am not the only person who thinks this exclusivity idea is B.S. Does Apple WANT to kill off or at least SIGNIFICANTLY slow down the adoption of this new tech? Does Apple REALLY believe that people are going to switch to Apple hardware just for the privilege to use Thunderbolt/Light Peak?

Does anyone else just shake their heads when reading more and more about the dunderhead moves Apple is making as of late? I swear they are taking lessons from the Microsoft playbook!!!

Idiots.

Quote:
The new port is already being supported by disk makers Promise and LaCie, with a voice of support from Western Digital (although not any products yet). Among media device makers, Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, and Universal Audio have all announced support as well.

It's clear Intel is going after professionals first. Rushing to get everyone to adopt doesn't always work.
post #26 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Forget about copper. Where's the fiber?

That comes next year when the exclusivity agreement ends.
post #27 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

25% of the consumer computer market (the "top" expensive 25%), is not "a tiny percentile of computer users."

When the first iMac came out, everybody and their brother started making peripherals specifically with the iMac in mind. Apple's iMac was leading the way with their implementation of USB on that machine. And who else was heavily involved in USB 1? Why yes, that would be Intel.

Apple sells plenty of macbooks. There's going to be lots of stuff coming out in the future which will use Thunderbolt.
post #28 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

I hope they can get this working with a tablet/desktop combo.

The ONLY reason for this move is so that they will have exclusivity on mobile devices.
There you have it folks... iPad 2 will have Thunderbolt.
post #29 of 132
10W of power through the copper cable... Hmmm, just right to charge up an iPad 2 me thinks.
post #30 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

There goes adoption.

How could they be stupid enough to make this thing of beauty into another FireWire?!

Can't be added? Yeah fricking right. How long before someone makes a PCIe Thunderbolt card for Mac Pros? I don't care if those don't do videothat's why my graphics card existsI just want the transfer speed.

Perhaps Apple has some of the Intellectual Property behind it?
post #31 of 132
It will take a year for Dell to find used Thunderbolt parts to put into their machines.
post #32 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

The title says this is exclusive to Apple until 2012. This is false. Anyone can release Thunderbolt tomorrow if they wanted to.

What I think they meant by this being exclusive to Apple is that the other PC makers had not had the opportunity yet to integrate this with their systems as Intel was working with Apple to work the kinks out.

It's not like Intel signed an agreement with Apple to not allow anyone else to use it.

But that would involve people actual RTFA instead of shooting from the hip like certain whiners are doing here right now. IF you own a Thunderbolt-equipped Apple product, good for you. You are ready to go. IF you own a PC, complain to them why it's taking so long. Don't rip on Apple. Hell, Apple did all the up-front work for you guys!
post #33 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

We also get Apple fanatics who cheered the rise of FireWire and wept at its death. The same thing is happening here.

Not sure why "Apple fanatics" shouldn't be mourning Firewire's demise. Far superior to USB1/2. Given a choice in I/O I always go with IEEE1394.
post #34 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

What I think they meant by this being exclusive to Apple is that the other PC makers had not had the opportunity yet to integrate this with their systems as Intel was working with Apple to work the kinks out.

It's not like Intel signed an agreement with Apple to not allow anyone else to use it.

But that would involve people actual RTFA instead of shooting from the hip like certain whiners are doing here right now. IF you own a Thunderbolt-equipped Apple product, good for you. You are ready to go. IF you own a PC, complain to them why it's taking so long. Don't rip on Apple. Hell, Apple did all the up-front work for you guys!

Agreed. Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and the rest will actually have to add the code to utilize it, whereas Apple has it out-of-the-box, today.
post #35 of 132
They say they want high end professionals to adopt it for things like video editing. That combined with the new FCP will match up perfectly. All of the types of peripherals that those pros need are not sold to the consumer market anyway. When the new optical/copper combo protocol is released it will also be expensive and not typical PC Windows consumer hardware either. Bottom line: who cares if the low end PC people don't get it? If professional Windows people want it, then they buy a Mac and run Windows on it.

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post #36 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vatdoro View Post

When can I use Thunderbolt for my LAN at home (or work)?

Screw Cat5 cables, I want dual 10GB+ channels to every device in my house!

When I restore houses, I always install two-gang outlets. One gang for power, and another for low-voltage wiring which is fully accessible with flex-conduit into a centralized location.

I do this to plan for just that event if I want to upgrade the wiring without having to bust walls out. Currently, I installed CAT6 in everything. However, I would be more than happy to simply pull the "old" CAT6 out and replace it with Thunderbolt cabling!

I look forward to this being more mainstream and the logistics are ironed out. Could be the end of regular ethernet / fiber cabling as we know it! WooHoo!
post #37 of 132
According to the CNET article, it's not that Apple has an exclusive. Intel just thinks that PC manufacturers will probably wait until their next design cycles to implement. This is likely because Apple was the launch partner and co-developed the technology. Anyone can get the chipsets now but it'll take a while before we see it in every Dell or HP.

On the other hand, motherboard manufacturer move a lot faster. i expect we'll see some boards from ASUS and their competitors in a few months.
post #38 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by crawdad62 View Post

Not sure why "Apple fanatics" shouldn't be mourning Firewire's demise. Far superior to USB1/2. Given a choice in I/O I always go with IEEE1394.

I've been with you on that one for years. When scanning a lot of color 35mm negatives and slides, having my Epson 4990 connected via FW make the job almost pleasant. Doing 16 negs at a time is twice as fast as the Dimage USB scanner that did only four at a time. All my external hard drives are FW 800 as well. USB? so far it's just used to extract images from my cameras. If there were a FW alternative, I'd buy in an instant.
post #39 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

If professional Windows people want it, then they buy a Mac and run Windows on it.

I didn't know that any professionals used windows.

In my business (pro audio), I hardly know anybody who doesn't use Macs.
post #40 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

I do this to plan for just that event if I want to upgrade the wiring without having to bust walls out. Currently, I installed CAT6 in everything. However, I would be more than happy to simply pull the "old" CAT6 out and replace it with Thunderbolt cabling!

Suggestion from one who has been there for 40 years: when pulling your cable through the smurf tube, be sure to pull a waxed string to be used as a pull when you want to add something. CAT cables aren't flexible enough for this.

Also, regarding the double ganged outlets, you have power in case you ever pull fiber.
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