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Intel promises optical Thunderbolt cables will arrive later this year

post #1 of 33
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Intel said on Monday that optical cables for its Thunderbolt port are scheduled to arrive later this year and will allow for longer cables and eventually faster speeds.

The world's largest chipmaker issued a statement on Monday confirming its plans to release the new cables this year, IDG News Service reports. Current Thunderbolt cables utilize copper with a maximum effective length of six meters.

Intel spokesman Dave Salvador told the publication that optical cables will support data transfers over distances of tens of meters. As the technology develops, they will also make broader bandwidth a possibility. However, one downside to the optical cables is that connected devices will require their own power supplies.

The current generation of copper Thunderbolt cables can provide up to 10 watts of power, but power over longer optical cables would suffer from an "impedance-induced power drop," according to the report.

Intel declined to provide more detailed timing on when the new cables will arrive and how much they will cost. First-generation Thunderbolt ports will, however, be compatible with the new optical cables.




Last week, the chipmaker indicated that it intends to support the PCI-Express 3.0 protocol. Thunderbolt currently works with PCI-Express 2.0 technology. PCIe 3.0 is capable of moving data at 8 giga transfers per second, a step up from the 5 gigatransfers per second speed of PCIe 2.0.

Intel and Apple released Thunderbolt little more than a year ago with the unveiling of the Early 2011 MacBook Pro. The technology couples Intel's work on a "Light Peak" optical connector with Apple's Mini DisplayPort standard to achieve two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions, simultaneously.

Apple added Thunderbolt to most of its Mac lineup throughout 2011. Available Thunderbolt accessories have remained relatively sparse, though. The company released a Thunderbolt Display last July and several external drive options (1, 2) exist for the technology.

Apple's official $49 Thunderbolt cable was released last June. It measures 2 meters in length and can connect two Thunderbolt-equipped Macs. A subsequent teardown of the cable revealed that it implements transceivers at either end of the cable to improve reliability when transferring data at high speeds.


Teardown of Apple's $49 Thunderbolt Cable | Source:iFixit


PC makers are expected to introduce Thunderbolt-equipped Ultrabooks in the second quarter of this year. Acer, Asustek and Lenovo and been named as vendors interested in implementing the I/O. Lenovo has already announced Thunderbolt-equipped Thinkpad laptops that will be released later this year.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 33
This is where you can stick this idea!

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post #3 of 33
Seems Like it took forever for USB 3 to be integrated into PC's. USB 2 was the standard forever. Now that Intel and Apple have released the Thunder Bolt interface it seems better than USB 3 but I wonder how integrated it will be in a year. How many external Hard Drives will come with the interface compared to USB 3?
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post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Seems Like it took forever for USB 3 to be integrated into PC's. USB 2 was the standard forever. Now that Intel and Apple have released the Thunder Bolt interface it seems better than USB 3 but I wonder how integrated it will be in a year. How many external Hard Drives will come with the interface compared to USB 3?

Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will be integrated into Ivy Bridge due out shortly. That's a plus, except that AMD and ARM can't support Thunderbolt. Still, not a big deal as Intel dominates the PC market. Plus USB and Thunderbolt don't really compete too much, especially not for an optical version of Thunderbolt. I will be surprised if Apple doesn't include USB 3.0 in their Ivy Bridge Macs.

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post #5 of 33
Whatever happened to I esata taking over external hard drives?
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

USB 2 was the standard forever.

Especially when most of the products were actually USB 1.1 being marketed as 2.0.
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will be integrated into Ivy Bridge due out shortly.

Not seeing that happening for thunderbolt: Anandtech : Upcoming 7-Series Motherboards
post #8 of 33
The port was or is far too limited to be worthwhile to implement. Beyond that SATA is rather dead itself. If Apple where to ever get around to designing a modern desktop SATA would only be there for legacy support if at all. The industry is quickly moving to much faster hardware for secondary storage, SATA would just get in the way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dancxg View Post

Whatever happened to I esata taking over external hard drives?
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Seems Like it took forever for USB 3 to be integrated into PC's. USB 2 was the standard forever. Now that Intel and Apple have released the Thunder Bolt interface it seems better than USB 3 but I wonder how integrated it will be in a year. How many external Hard Drives will come with the interface compared to USB 3?

I really don't think people get it, Thundebolt isn't and never was designed to compete with USB. The cost differential alone kills that idea. In the case of a magnetic hard drive why would you even bother with TB, the transfer rates of these drives are no where that fast that they would benefit.

It has been pretty clear that Apples goal with TB is a higher level of functionality. The idea being one cable to connect to a monitor / dock combo delivering a bunch of slower peripheral features. Or to implement advance storage concepts like RAID arrays where the speed can be used.

In the end looking at these two interfaces as competitors is foolish even if a few marketing gurus will try too.
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I really don't think people get it, Thundebolt isn't and never was designed to compete with USB. The cost differential alone kills that idea. In the case of a magnetic hard drive why would you even bother with TB, the transfer rates of these drives are no where that fast that they would benefit.

It has been pretty clear that Apples goal with TB is a higher level of functionality. The idea being one cable to connect to a monitor / dock combo delivering a bunch of slower peripheral features. Or to implement advance storage concepts like RAID arrays where the speed can be used.

In the end looking at these two interfaces as competitors is foolish even if a few marketing gurus will try too.

That about sums it up. Where is USB 3 on Macs? I'm not interested in Thunderbolt due to the expense.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tania View Post

Not seeing that happening for thunderbolt: Anandtech : Upcoming 7-Series Motherboards

Apparently, there was a misunderstanding somewhere along the line. While early reports said that Thunderbolt would be included at the chip level, Intel now says it will not:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4406/c...not-integrated

It will therefore be up to the motherboard manufacturer to add it or not. So far, I know that Acer, Asustek, and MSI have announced that they will be including Thunderbolt in at least some models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

That about sums it up. Where is USB 3 on Macs? I'm not interested in Thunderbolt due to the expense.

Really? Why don't you tell us exactly what Thunderbolt costs, then.
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post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Really? Why don't you tell us exactly what Thunderbolt costs, then.

$50 cables. $450 drives. When USB 3 would suffice and be much cheaper. Or am I missing something?
post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Thundebolt isn't and never was designed to compete with USB.

Says who?

Quote:
The cost differential alone kills that idea.

Yeah, USB never cost more than it does now.

Quote:
In the end looking at these two interfaces as competitors is foolish

So what happens when Apple drops all legacy ports in favor of Thunderbolt, then?

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

$50 cables. $450 drives. When USB 3 would suffice and be much cheaper. Or am I missing something?

Yes. You're missing the fact that electronics devices always start out expensive and come down in price as they become more popular.

You're also missing the fact that USB is significantly inferior to Thunderbolt in a number of ways.
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post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yes. You're missing the fact that electronics devices always start out expensive and come down in price as they become more popular.

That's what I was hearing 18 months ago and yet Thunderbolt is still expensive and unpopular. How many years will it take? Will it ever take off or will there be something else new and expensive before it does?

I don't doubt that Thunderbolt is superior to USB. But I think it'll be a long time until I ever use it for anything, even though two of my Macs have Thunderbolt ports. Meanwhile, it would be nice to have a USB 3 port.
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by You in 1998

That's what I was hearing 18 months ago and yet USB is still expensive and unpopular. How many years will it take?

Your real complaint stems from Apple's unwillingness to pull a G3 iMac and kill off every other port when they released Thunderbolt.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Your real complaint stems from Apple's unwillingness to pull a G3 iMac and kill off every other port when they released Thunderbolt.

Huh?
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

Huh?

Apple didn't push Thunderbolt the way they pushed USB. Had they, we'd've seen hundreds of Thunderbolt accessories by now.

Apple made the mistake of relying on Intel to do it, and if Intel doesn't FORCE every other computer manufacturer to include at least one Thunderbolt port on all of their motherboards, it's doomed and it will be entirely Intel's fault.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

That's what I was hearing 18 months ago and yet Thunderbolt is still expensive and unpopular.

1) Thunderbolt hasn't been known to the world on the market for 18 months.

2) It's only now getting to the point that PC vendors other than Apple can utilize it.

3) As we witnessed at CES other PC makers are very interested in Thunderbolt.

4) USB 1.0 was introduced in January 1996. What was its spread as January 1997?

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

$50 cables. $450 drives. When USB 3 would suffice and be much cheaper. Or am I missing something?

i bought $49 Apple cable and for $1850 a 12TB Pegasus RAID array to connecct to a Mac Mini Server and the combination is the fastest drives I have ever used - the major limitation in my cases is that the Mini has only 1 ethernet port - unless I somehow got my local machinies to connet vai WiFi....

while it is possible that I am not using the full potential of the products - I hae no concern that as my demands on the system grow that it will keep up with me.

and I do use the gear for billable work and services so it will pay for itself in less than 2 years - perhaps even less than 1 year.
post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple didn't push Thunderbolt the way they pushed USB. Had they, we'd've seen hundreds of Thunderbolt accessories by now.

In 1998, there was a real need for a better connection standard; not so today. I think it would be a mistake for Apple to abandon the long established USB in favor of Thunderbolt. I'm not opposed to Apple providing TB ports for the 2% (and growing?) of the population that might currently use it. And it's handy how it has replaced mini-DisplayPort for monitors. USB 3 would be far more useful for most people and peripherals, IMO. Macs already have USB ports, so why not upgrade them to V3?

I've been a big proponent of Firewire for years, as was Apple. How did that work out? Not so well.
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

In 1998, there was a real need for a better connection standard; not so today. I think it would be a mistake for Apple to abandon the long established USB in favor of Thunderbolt. I'm not opposed to Apple providing TB ports for the 2% (and growing?) of the population that might currently use it. And it's handy how it has replaced mini-DisplayPort for monitors. USB 3 would be far more useful for most people and peripherals, IMO. Macs already have USB ports, so why not upgrade them to V3?

Lots of misconceptions here.

1) There is no one-or-the-other scenario. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Just because Apple is including Thunderbolt doesn't mean they will deprecate USB.

2) Thunderbolt is a lot more eSATA, except better in every way, including offering power to devices. This is how eSATA should have been designed.

3) Originally Intel wanted to go back to their routes and include Thunderbolt/LightPeak in with the USB connector. THe USB-IF put the kibosh on that. Apple came in with a much better solution that will allow the required but oft unused video out connector to get more utilized. This also allowed for just two cables with their external displays. One for power and one for everything else. Hopefully with the optical version we'll be able to move to just one total.

Quote:
I've been a big proponent of Firewire for years, as was Apple. How did that work out? Not so well.

That's the wrong statement and conclusion but the right question. You should be asking:

Ive been a big proponent of USB for years, as was Intel. How did that work out? Really fucking well.

Remember, USB is an Intel tech. The difference here is that Apple wasn't only the first vendor to go all in on the superior tech but was the first to get access to the tech. Now that we're almost done with Apple's lone usage of the tech in PCs let's see how the next year shapes up with the high-end PC market.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

In 1998, there was a real need for a better connection standard; not so today.

Yeah, we sure don't need something that can move files faster than 20MBps and can replace every other I/O port on the market today…

Quote:
Originally Posted by You, 1998.

I think it would be a mistake for Apple to abandon the long established ADB, PS/2, SCSI, etc. in favor of USB. I'm not opposed to Apple providing USB ports for the 2% (and growing?) of the population that might currently use it.

Again…

Quote:
I've been a big proponent of Firewire for years, as was Apple. How did that work out? Not so well.

Different story. Different background.

What happened the last time that Apple and Intel got together and embraced a standard? Oh, that's right, USB.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #24 of 33
For a desktop computer a single Thunderbolt cable isn't really that impressive. Still I use a wired mouse and keyboard. Thunderbolt won't be replacing any wires for me when and if I get it. A wire will still be coming out of my non-Thunderbolt display.

Until I understood what Thunderbolt was I was excited about it. Now I'm glad for its existence but not thrilled. USB 3 would be better for my immediate and future needs. Those needs consist only of connecting external drives to my computers.

At some time later this summer I'll be buying an external solid state hard drive to use as a portable computer. Mostly it will stay home but at other times I'll take it with me to visit friends. When I connect it to their computers I'll locate drivers for their peripherals and then I'll be in business.

Having a USB 3 for that purpose would be fast enough to watch movies stored on my external drive. The thing is I don't expect all of my friends to own computers with Thunderbolt any time soon. Most won't even have USB 3. So Thunderbolt is a great technology that needs to be implemented. I just don't feel it will be beneficial to me for several years to come.
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

For a desktop computer a single Thunderbolt cable isn't really that impressive. Still I use a wired mouse and keyboard. Thunderbolt won't be replacing any wires for me when and if I get it. A wire will still be coming out of my non-Thunderbolt display.

Until I understood what Thunderbolt was I was excited about it. Now I'm glad for its existence but not thrilled. USB 3 would be better for my immediate and future needs. Those needs consist only of connecting external drives to my computers.

USB 3.0 can't be used for HiDPI displays. Thunderbolt can.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #26 of 33
You all are better at making good points than I am. Perhaps Thunderbolt, copper and optical, will become a standard.

USB is not likely to go away anytime soon, despite what some people want. So it might as well be a much improved USB 3, IMO.

In a few years, I hope to be using high speed wireless for everything and my only use for a wire will be to plug my computer into an electrical outlet.
post #27 of 33
Thunderbolt is not just 10 Gbps. It is 2 x 10 Gbps.
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

You all are better at making good points than I am. Perhaps Thunderbolt, copper and optical, will become a standard.

USB is not likely to go away anytime soon, despite what some people want. So it might as well be a much improved USB 3, IMO.

In a few years, I hope to be using high speed wireless for everything and my only use for a wire will be to plug my computer into an electrical outlet.

Yeah, by itself Thunderbolt will not get rid of USB even on high-end equipment like external HDDs. The problem is that the HDD speed is still slower than what USB can offer. There are benefits to Thunderbolt daisy-chaining but these are not of consequence to the average user.

The biggest threat to USB is what you mention: wireless. 802.11ac should arrive this year. It will not be another 802.11n debacle. They have this one moving along very smoothly. The low-end for 802.11ac is 433 Mb/s. Maybe we'll see this in the next iPhone as this level is designed for handheld. Personally I think 2012 for a phone is too soon. The high end is so far up to almost 7 Gb/s.

That said, that wireless standard is overkill for most of the devices we have traditionally connected via USB: mice and keyboards. Bluetooth seems to have a handle on them in the future.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


At some time later this summer I'll be buying an external solid state hard drive to use as a portable computer. Mostly it will stay home but at other times I'll take it with me to visit friends. When I connect it to their computers I'll locate drivers for their peripherals and then I'll be in business.

Having a USB 3 for that purpose would be fast enough to watch movies stored on my external drive. The thing is I don't expect all of my friends to own computers with Thunderbolt any time soon. Most won't even have USB 3. So Thunderbolt is a great technology that needs to be implemented. I just don't feel it will be beneficial to me for several years to come.

Thats the biggest load of bullshit I've heard in years, how old are you 14? I'm going to take my hard drive and use it like a computer, WTF are you on? You expect people to allow you to take over their computer, yeah that gona happen.

USB 3 will probably never be supported by Apple as it's only advantage over Thunderbolt is that it can be connected to USB 2 connectors. FireWire never took off like USB but that's because it was never meant to be a replacement for serial or parallel or ps/2, it was designed for people who had a need for RAID drives. Thunderbolt will replace Firewire for those who need the speed, it will also kill USB 3 on low cost machines as USB 3 is an either or tech. That is if you have thunderbolt there is no point in paying extra for USB 3 and on hign end machines where Apple dominates, you will need Thunderbolt.
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple didn't push Thunderbolt the way they pushed USB. Had they, we'd've seen hundreds of Thunderbolt accessories by now.

Apple made the mistake of relying on Intel to do it, and if Intel doesn't FORCE every other computer manufacturer to include at least one Thunderbolt port on all of their motherboards, it's doomed and it will be entirely Intel's fault.

And not foreseeing it arriving on those manufacturers computers meant the peripheral makers all took a "wait and see, no rush" approach. So it kills those of us WITH it because we've had so little to use it with. Without a market for it it doesn't matter how great it is. You can't convince anyone they need something if they can't see it in use that shows it off amazingly. A Thunderbolt monitor or hard drive isn't going to do it.

Looking forward for this holding pattern to be over.
post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

I've been a big proponent of Firewire for years, as was Apple. How did that work out? Not so well.

If you really were a big proponent of Firewire, you would know it worked out pretty well. It seems to me that you hang out with either gamers, a PC crowd, or actually too young to afford higher end equipment such as a good video camera which uses Firewire. I apologize for talking down to you.

My point is that Firewire was the best thing that happened to all-in-one Macs. I just can't deal with the slow speed of USB 2 and Firewire 800 is actually in real-world usage faster or equal to USB 3.

The problem I see most today is that USB 2 is getting in the way. Many compact mobile bus powered drives have only a USB 2 port. I do have one (a wee bit larger case) with FW 800, but it cost more when it doesn't have too. If the PC crowd would just be as forward thinking as Apple, we wouldn't need USB 2. And yes, I realize iOS devices use USB 2, but they could have been USB 3, if it wasn't for the PC world.

I realize the Apple Thunderbolt train leads the legacy people to the future, but when you get to the station, we Apple folks will be there to greet you and tell you how we perfected the technology.
post #32 of 33
I don't understand. I was under the impression that Thunderbolt was simply an implementation of Light Peak over copper. Why would you have optical cables for an interface designed for copper?
post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post

Thats the biggest load of bullshit I've heard in years, how old are you 14? I'm going to take my hard drive and use it like a computer, WTF are you on? You expect people to allow you to take over their computer, yeah that gona happen.

USB 3 will probably never be supported by Apple as it's only advantage over Thunderbolt is that it can be connected to USB 2 connectors. FireWire never took off like USB but that's because it was never meant to be a replacement for serial or parallel or ps/2, it was designed for people who had a need for RAID drives. Thunderbolt will replace Firewire for those who need the speed, it will also kill USB 3 on low cost machines as USB 3 is an either or tech. That is if you have thunderbolt there is no point in paying extra for USB 3 and on hign end machines where Apple dominates, you will need Thunderbolt.

USB 3.0 will be in every Ivy Bridge chipset. It's unlikely that any vendor would purposely throttle the port down to USB 2.0 speeds for any reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post

I don't understand. I was under the impression that Thunderbolt was simply an implementation of Light Peak over copper. Why would you have optical cables for an interface designed for copper?

Cables aren't going to be cheap unless the TB chipsets already have the necessary components to send out light versus electronic signals.
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