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Intel on Thunderbolt: Our goal is quality, more compatible accessories on the way

post #1 of 32
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Intel pushed back on Friday against allegations that it was the company's own policies that have hindered the wider adoption of Thunderbolt beyond Apple's Mac lineup, with the chipmaker saying that until now it has been more focused on the quality of its partners' devices, rather than quantity.

belkin
Belkin's Thunderbolt Dock, one of roughly 80 devices available featuring Thunderbolt compatibility.


On Tuesday, a Digitimes report emerged blaming Intel's pricing and control policies for the lag in adoption of Thunderbolt, an I/O standard developed in conjunction with Apple and currently featured across that company's Mac line of computers. Jason Ziller, Intel's marketing director for Thunderbolt contacted AppleInsider on Friday, saying that the report was off base.

"I'm really not sure where those numbers came from," Ziller said of the wholesale prices quoted for Thunderbolt parts. "There's recommended pricing on ark.intel.com, and you can see on there that the new controllers are all under $10. Our prices have never been [as high as in the report]." "We're pleased at the rate of growth [of Thunderbolt]. We think that this year it's going to expand even further." - Jason Ziller, Intel marketing director

The report, Ziller said, also missed the mark with regard to Intel's being the sole seller of technologies critical to Thunderbolt's operation.

"The way it works is that the Thunderbolt specification lists the signal requirements for Thunderbolt technology, including on the connectors and cables," Ziller explained. "Just like any other specs, there are signal requirements, and the cables and connectors have to meet those specifications in order to make it to market. The spec is part of a license we grant, and it's a royalty-free license.

"But it's not proprietary or exclusive or anything," he said. "In fact, there are multiple suppliers that make the components."

The original, disputed report aimed to explain why Thunderbolt has seen relatively low adoption some two years after the standard's introduction. Despite the technology's capabilities ? offering speeds twice as fast as USB 3.0, as well as the ability to daisy-chain devices without a hub ? there are, by Ziller's own admission, only about 80 Thunderbolt-compatible products on the market today. That, the Intel rep claims, is due to a focus on quality over quantity.

"We wanted to make sure that we were working directly with these companies and that they were successful," he said.

Ziller said that early on the company was still finalizing Thunderbolt's specifications, even as it worked with a small group of vendors. Additionally, he said that Intel's certification program is more robust than those of other standards. For those reasons, Intel didn't begin licensing Thunderbolt broadly until the beginning of last year's fourth quarter.

Going forward, Intel expects the standard to see greater adoption. The company would like to see more products coming to market, and Ziller says there has been an increase not only in the number of companies developing Thunderbolt-compatible devices, but also the number of devices each company is working on.

"We're pleased at the rate of growth," Ziller said, noting that the standard currently has over 220 licensees, with many of those having come since the fourth quarter of last year. "We think that this year it's going to expand even further."

AppleInsider contacted DigiTimes for comment on Intel's responses and will update this article should the publication reply.
post #2 of 32
"Digitimes". That word alone is all that's needed to know you're going to waste your time reading the article.
post #3 of 32
To my understanding, one of the biggest hurdle for Thunderbolt adoption come from the fact it can't be added on existing computers. It needs to be built-in and is hard to integrated with third party graphics cards the same way Apple could do it on their laptop and iMac. This could also explain why the Mac Pro is still the only Mac without Thunderbolt ports.

This being said, at least on paper, Thunderbolt is a much better and future proof interface than USB3.
Edited by BigMac2 - 5/31/13 at 1:05pm
post #4 of 32
Only way it can go is up, hopefully sooner rather than later.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post

This being said, at least on paper, Thunderbolt is a much better and future proof interface than USB3.

But USB is past-proof.
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post

To my understanding, one of the biggest hurdle for Thunderbolt adoption come from the fact it can't be added on existing computers.

The same can be said with USB 3.0. Sure, there are PCIe USB 3.0 cards but the same can be said for TB, and I don't think either of these are issues since desktop/towers are not the most commonly sold modern PC today.

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post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shogun View Post

But USB is past-proof.

Touché.

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post #8 of 32
Wow, that's just a terrible bunch of half-baked damage control quotes that don't ring true. Intel shouldn't have let its marketing director get involved.

"We're pleased at the rate of growth". Huh?
post #9 of 32

Wake me up when I can buy a cheap Thunderbolt flash drive.

post #10 of 32
How many accessories actually need or would utilize Thunderbolt to its potential?

Having a Thunderbolt printer, mouse, trackpad, and even hard drive doesn't make sense if the hard drive is mechanical. USB 3 caps a mechanical hard drive out quite well. Unless you don't have a USB 3 port but you do have a Thunderbolt...

Seeing some chip side accessories would be nice. Graphics or CPU for example, but those companies don't seem very interested at the moment. I wish they were...

Personally I don't think there's much uptake with Thunderbolt because in most aspects there isn't a particular need for it.
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Touché.

And to be fair, Thunderbolt is really more future-resistant.
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vadania View Post

How many accessories actually need or would utilize Thunderbolt to its potential?

Having a Thunderbolt printer, mouse, trackpad, and even hard drive doesn't make sense if the hard drive is mechanical. USB 3 caps a mechanical hard drive out quite well. Unless you don't have a USB 3 port but you do have a Thunderbolt...

Seeing some chip side accessories would be nice. Graphics or CPU for example, but those companies don't seem very interested at the moment. I wish they were...

Personally I don't think there's much uptake with Thunderbolt because in most aspects there isn't a particular need for it.

You don't need USB 3 for printers or mice either.

I'd think its pretty safe to say that Thunderbolt is much better for HDDs and SSDs.
post #13 of 32
Thank you for confirming what I stated.

However Thunderbolt is not better for HDD's unless you do not have a USB 3.0 port. I think I may have stated that.

I'll give you the SSD Thunderbolt connection, however I believe I said that also.

I'm really interested in chipset Thunderbolt integration. That's not from me, I believe Sol was the first to mention it on this site. That is what I believe the future of Thunderbolt should be. That's just me.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vadania View Post

How many accessories actually need or would utilize Thunderbolt to its potential?

Having a Thunderbolt printer, mouse, trackpad, and even hard drive doesn't make sense if the hard drive is mechanical. USB 3 caps a mechanical hard drive out quite well. Unless you don't have a USB 3 port but you do have a Thunderbolt...

Seeing some chip side accessories would be nice. Graphics or CPU for example, but those companies don't seem very interested at the moment. I wish they were...

Personally I don't think there's much uptake with Thunderbolt because in most aspects there isn't a particular need for it.


Do you mean an external cpu? Thunderbolt isn't near fast enough or designed for that. The gpu concept is also unlikely. It's not just developing the additional hardware to make it work. You would need thunderbolt specific drivers for something where desktops still do a better job. Pushing things outside the box to me flows counter to the overall direction computing has taken as long as I've followed it.

post #15 of 32
Yes! "Pushing things outside the box" as you said.

Drivers can be made quickly in comparison to hardware. They're not really that tough to make.

I know it's not likely to be seen soon commercially, but it can be done. Even just adding something that takes the strain off of the C or G PU would still be nice.

I have to remember sometimes that what I see in my mind isn't always an immediate solution. The only thing that's bothering me is that this was a class discussion almost two years ago and several models were made that had functionality. So when I've already seen it work, why isn't it there?

I do understand that they sold their projects, but why so long to market when we were taught 10 weeks?
post #16 of 32
Thus far Thunderbolt is a disaster. I bought a new iMac late last year and thus far I have piles of USB 3.0 devices and no Thunderbolt devices. I had planned to buy thunderbolt devices but the only ones available cost twice as much as USB 3.0 devices and offer no better performance. The only Thunderbolt device I found that was in any way tempting was the 1 GB SSD from Lacie which costs as much as an entire computer but at least it can use the Thunderbolt bandwidth. On the other hand those USB 3.0 plugs have turned out to be life savers. An external hard drive connected to USB 3.0 seems about as fast as an internal drive which is a big deal on an iMac. Intel needs to start thinking about quantity and low prices over quality if they want to compete with USB 3.0.
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post

Thus far Thunderbolt is a disaster. I bought a new iMac late last year and thus far I have piles of USB 3.0 devices and no Thunderbolt devices. I had planned to buy thunderbolt devices but the only ones available cost twice as much as USB 3.0 devices and offer no better performance. The only Thunderbolt device I found that was in any way tempting was the 1 GB SSD from Lacie which costs as much as an entire computer but at least it can use the Thunderbolt bandwidth. On the other hand those USB 3.0 plugs have turned out to be life savers. An external hard drive connected to USB 3.0 seems about as fast as an internal drive which is a big deal on an iMac. Intel needs to start thinking about quantity and low prices over quality if they want to compete with USB 3.0.

Your comment comes across excessively anecdotal. You say the technology itself is a disaster which you follow up with I bought and I have comments. If you had an Apple Thunderbolt Display with a newer Mac notebook would you still feel the same way? Are there external monitors that can do what the ATD does using USB 3.0? Since it's using the mDP for TB and can't very well remove the option for an external monitor from a notebook where does the disaster come into play? I currently don't use either of my external monitor options with my iMac or MBP but I'd certainly not want to give that for an extra USB 3.0 port.

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post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"We think that this year it's going to expand even further.".

 

You THINK it'll expand this year!

It's new tech, don't stifle manufacturers or it'll just die, no matter how good it is. It's all about uptake.

 

We need quantity to create competition to bring down the artificially inflated prices.

post #19 of 32
Perfectly timed article. Today, to my horror, I discovered that both USB ports on my 2011 MacBook Air 13" have developed a fault that means my (portable) backup drive keeps being kicked off - I even bought a new drive, thinking initially it was the drive. Visit to Apple store (Reading, England) confirmed it's the MBA, which is out of warranty, and I'm not willing to pay to have it fixed. So, I went to check out the portable Thunderbolt equipped drives. None, except one huge expensive G drive, for the desktop. (I like to take my backup drive with me when I leave the MBA on my desk so always choose models about the size of a smart phone. G-Drive Slim etc.)

I mentioned to the Apple store staff the irony of them not carrying any Thunderbolt drives, and then went to PC World, who didn't stock a single one either, despite carrying Apple gear. Finally tried John Lewis, no luck there either! (In fact, all stores stocked the same drives, Western Digital Passport/Studio drives. Not much competition!)

So I have an MBA with NO backup. Being I have over 1 million files and 25 years of work on it's 256GB SSD, I have just done some research into the best online backup service, and am going to abandon using a hard drive from now on and signup for (drum roll)...

Crashplan.

It has got great reviews and appears to tick most of the boxes, even if not as good as Dropbox and others for more touchy feely features such as sharing/collaboration etc. It is mature and sensible.

Who needs USB/Thunderbolt when you have the cloud? 1wink.gif
post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oflife View Post

Perfectly timed article. Today, to my horror, I discovered that both USB ports on my 2011 MacBook Air 13" have developed a fault that means my (portable) backup drive keeps being kicked off - I even bought a new drive, thinking initially it was the drive. Visit to Apple store (Reading, England) confirmed it's the MBA, which is out of warranty, and I'm not willing to pay to have it fixed. So, I went to check out the portable Thunderbolt equipped drives. None, except one huge expensive G drive, for the desktop. (I like to take my backup drive with me when I leave the MBA on my desk so always choose models about the size of a smart phone. G-Drive Slim etc.)

I mentioned to the Apple store staff the irony of them not carrying any Thunderbolt drives, and then went to PC World, who didn't stock a single one either, despite carrying Apple gear. Finally tried John Lewis, no luck there either! (In fact, all stores stocked the same drives, Western Digital Passport/Studio drives. Not much competition!)

So I have an MBA with NO backup. Being I have over 1 million files and 25 years of work on it's 256GB SSD, I have just done some research into the best online backup service, and am going to abandon using a hard drive from now on and signup for (drum roll)...

Crashplan.

It has got great reviews and appears to tick most of the boxes, even if not as good as Dropbox and others for more touchy feely features such as sharing/collaboration etc. It is mature and sensible.

Who needs USB/Thunderbolt when you have the cloud? 1wink.gif

1) Cloud storage has plenty of advantages but having to restore up to 250GB quickly is not one of them. Even over a WLAN that can a daunting task.

2) I think one of the holdups with TB enclosures may be certification from Intel since the whole device needs to get certified. There are plenty of 2.5" TB drives that aren't that expensive. Surely more than USB 3.0 but certainly much, much faster than cloud backups and restores that could make all the difference depending on your needs. There are also Ethernet connected drives or a thunderbolt Dock that has USB 3.0. Do your external drives also have Firewire you can leverage that for local storage on my MBA with an adapter.

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post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

The same can be said with USB 3.0. Sure, there are PCIe USB 3.0 cards but the same can be said for TB, and I don't think either of these are issues since desktop/towers are not the most commonly sold modern PC today.

There are USB 3 Express Cards.
Edited by JeffDM - 6/1/13 at 4:07pm
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


There are USB 3 Express Cards


On macs I think only the Marvell express card chips have any official Mountain Lion support. I know I got a few questions why whatever raid stopped working with Lion or ML.

post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

There are USB 3 Express Cards

Wow! I haven't even thought about EC in years. I assumed it was a dying technology. If it's not, could an EC card be used with TB or are the performance limitations of EC too poor?

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post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Wow! I haven't even thought about EC in years. I assumed it was a dying technology. If it's not, could an EC card be used with TB or are the performance limitations of EC too poor?


It looks like it won't give the speed. The bandwidth on PCIe 1.0 machines is is 2.5Gbps, PCIe 2.0 is 5.0Gbps.
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It looks like it won't give the speed. The bandwidth on PCIe 1.0 machines is is 2.5Gbps, PCIe 2.0 is 5.0Gbps.

Fact check: PCIe 1.0 is 2 Gbps PER LANE. 2.0 is 4 Gbps. Maximum at x16 lane bandwidth on one slot is 32 Gbps and 64 Gbps, respectively. Thunderbolt is thus unsuitable for serious graphics card use in expansion chassis, as most of them run on x16 lanes on PCIe 2.0. Thunderbolt, in its current incarnation, can only run x1 cards without throttling bandwidth.
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oflife View Post

Perfectly timed article. Today, to my horror, I discovered that both USB ports on my 2011 MacBook Air 13" have developed a fault that means my (portable) backup drive keeps being kicked off - I even bought a new drive, thinking initially it was the drive. Visit to Apple store (Reading, England) confirmed it's the MBA, which is out of warranty, and I'm not willing to pay to have it fixed. So, I went to check out the portable Thunderbolt equipped drives. None, except one huge expensive G drive, for the desktop. (I like to take my backup drive with me when I leave the MBA on my desk so always choose models about the size of a smart phone. G-Drive Slim etc.)

I mentioned to the Apple store staff the irony of them not carrying any Thunderbolt drives, and then went to PC World, who didn't stock a single one either, despite carrying Apple gear. Finally tried John Lewis, no luck there either! (In fact, all stores stocked the same drives, Western Digital Passport/Studio drives. Not much competition!)

So I have an MBA with NO backup. Being I have over 1 million files and 25 years of work on it's 256GB SSD, I have just done some research into the best online backup service, and am going to abandon using a hard drive from now on and signup for (drum roll)...

Crashplan.

It has got great reviews and appears to tick most of the boxes, even if not as good as Dropbox and others for more touchy feely features such as sharing/collaboration etc. It is mature and sensible.

Who needs USB/Thunderbolt when you have the cloud? 1wink.gif

A WiFi Time Capsule would be a good idea for you, 256 GB SSD is a tiny drive and works really well with this set up. I have the same drive as a boot now in my MBPro (as well as a 1 TB HDD). I am pretty well stuck with Firewire 800 and wifi for back ups with my MBPro 2010. Now I think about it I have never used for USB of any kind for data transfer. If a Mac Pro is launched at WWDC with TB I may get one and be thrust into this issue of lack of external devices, hopefully any new Mac Pro has a FW 800 for such legacy devices as I have. The lack of Firewire on MBA's was the reason i never bought one, I have many FW 800 external drives.
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post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanimal View Post

Fact check: PCIe 1.0 is 2 Gbps PER LANE. 2.0 is 4 Gbps. Maximum at x16 lane bandwidth on one slot is 32 Gbps and 64 Gbps, respectively. Thunderbolt is thus unsuitable for serious graphics card use in expansion chassis, as most of them run on x16 lanes on PCIe 2.0. Thunderbolt, in its current incarnation, can only run x1 cards without throttling bandwidth.

Context is important. I was talking about the Expresscard, in the context of laptops, on the topic of adding USB 3 to an older laptop. On the exact bandwidth, I only took it from the Wikipedia page on Expresscard. Maybe they're wrong, maybe it's a difference between signal rate vs. data payload. I don't understand the discrepancy. They do rate 2.5GT/s. Might be part of the problem.

I wasn't talking about the external graphics, though that was in the discussion in places. I agree it's not viable for heavy graphics, but it is viable as a frame buffer.
Edited by JeffDM - 6/2/13 at 2:39pm
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oflife View Post

I mentioned to the Apple store staff the irony of them not carrying any Thunderbolt drives, and then went to PC World, who didn't stock a single one either, despite carrying Apple gear. Finally tried John Lewis, no luck there either! (In fact, all stores stocked the same drives, Western Digital Passport/Studio drives. Not much competition!)

Who needs USB/Thunderbolt when you have the cloud? 1wink.gif

 

Hopefully you splurged for a Gigabit Fiber Optic internet connection as well.  Otherwise restoring 256GB from the cloud if/when the time comes is going to be painful experience.

 

Try Other World Computing for Thunderbolt accessories.  They're top notch for Mac hardware and provide plenty of options for international shipping depending on whether you want speed or low cost.

 
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post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


The same can be said with USB 3.0. Sure, there are PCIe USB 3.0 cards but the same can be said for TB, and I don't think either of these are issues since desktop/towers are not the most commonly sold modern PC today.

 

Au contraire! You can't add a TB interface just like you can add USB 3.0 ports via an PCIe card.  Like adding PCIe on AGP-PCI computers, Thunderbolt ports being a driverless serial PCI bus itself, electrically speaking the TB controller cannot be behind another PCI controller. You will never found TB add-ons for after-market computers like any other external interfaces because of this, Asus got a TB add-on custom card but it only work for their own TB ready motherboard. This is also why Intel has complete control over the OEM manufacturer and only intel based motherboard can offer TB ports for now.


Edited by BigMac2 - 6/3/13 at 11:48am
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanimal View Post


Fact check: PCIe 1.0 is 2 Gbps PER LANE. 2.0 is 4 Gbps. Maximum at x16 lane bandwidth on one slot is 32 Gbps and 64 Gbps, respectively. Thunderbolt is thus unsuitable for serious graphics card use in expansion chassis, as most of them run on x16 lanes on PCIe 2.0. Thunderbolt, in its current incarnation, can only run x1 cards without throttling bandwidth.

 

According to TB documentation, the current 10Gbps Bidi implementation assure x4 PCIe 1.0 lanes bandwidth without throttling, still no enough for serious graphics card solution indeed, but more than enough for multi-interfaces docks, expansion chassis, HD video capture and very high disk I/O solution.


Edited by BigMac2 - 6/3/13 at 11:58am
post #31 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vadania View Post


Seeing some chip side accessories would be nice. Graphics or CPU for example, but those companies don't seem very interested at the moment. I wish they were...

 

There are many possibilities but it's Intel who isn't interested not the companies.  Aim your wishes at them  : )  

 

There are probably many manufacturers with great ideas for useful, high quality products who can't get Intel to return their emails.

post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post

Wow, that's just a terrible bunch of half-baked damage control quotes that don't ring true. Intel shouldn't have let its marketing director get involved.

"We're pleased at the rate of growth". Huh?

This.

 

The explanations were terrible -- just butt-covering tripe. There is something obviously wrong with the roll-out of Thunderbolt and all we get from Intel by way of explanation is a bunch of hand-waving and hot air.

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