Intel making Thunderbolt 3 royalty-free for manufacturers in 2018 [u]

Posted:
in macOS edited May 2017
Thunderbolt has never seen a great deal of market penetration, but that may be about to change with Intel natively integrating Thunderbolt 3 into future CPU models and making the protocol royalty-free to chipmakers in 2018.




"We think the first thing is going to drive broader adoption and deployment of Thunderbolt 3 in PCs," said Intel's lead for Thunderbolt development Jason Ziller in an interview with Wired . "The second will drive also broader adoption in the ecosystem, with a lot of different peripherals and other devices."

Ziller noted that cost of peripherals, with six-foot, active, full-speed cables topping $60, has been a problem for adoption. The moves by Intel for wider adoption should drive down costs both from a reduction in licensing costs needed to build the devices in the first place, as well as from a mass-production "economy of scale" standpoint.

"Cost is always a consideration, I think the integration into future CPUs will help reduce the overall solution cost on the computer," said Ziller. "And, we're continually working with the industry to lower the cost of the cables and the devices."

"There always have been and probably will continue to be some wired ports on even the thinnest and lightest computers," added Ziller. "So having a single port that really do everything that you need is our vision for Thunderbolt 3."

The modern Thunderbolt connector was developed by a consortium of companies, including Apple and Intel, as "Light Peak." Thunderbolt is in many ways is more like Apple and Texas Instruments' legacy FireWire connector than USB.

Apple is on-board with the decision to make the protocol royalty free.

"Apple and Intel have collaborated on Thunderbolt from the beginning," said Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio in a statement. "As the industry leader in its adoption, we applaud Intel's efforts to integrate Thunderbolt technology into its CPUs and open it up to the rest of the industry."

The latest incarnation, Thunderbolt 3 was included on Apple hardware for the first time on the 2016 MacBook Pro, and uses the USB-C physical connector and has two discrete speeds. Using "active" cables, or cables with transceiver chips embedded in them for negotiation, peak speeds can reach 40 gigabits per second when supplied with sufficient PCI-E channels. Thunderbolt 3 can also use "passive" cables without transceivers, cutting the downstream speed to one channel at 10 gigabits per second.

Thunderbolt 3 was originally supposed to have been integrated with the Kaby Lake processor family, but plans changed somewhere along the way. It is not yet clear which processor revision Intel will include support for Thunderbolt 3.
Rayz2016Soli
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,821member
    Kudos to Intel for doing this. Hopefully, this will make Thunderbolt a more widely adopted technology. 
    cutykamudysamoriawatto_cobrapalegolas
  • Reply 2 of 33
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,010member
    What's the cost breakdown on Thunderbolt products? I'm talking about both drive enclosures and cables, the latter seems to be a major rip-off unless licensing costs are huge.
    How much (more) does the actual hardware cost?
    How much does licensing cost?
    How much is pure profit for whoever makes and sells the product? 

    USB-3 (not USB-C) is cheap. Why is that? Is the hardware cost very low? Any licensing costs?

    As far as Intel including it on the CPU chip, that only helps Intel sell CPUs. Does it really reduce the cost to peripheral vendors?
    edited May 2017 bdkennedy1002
  • Reply 3 of 33
    So does this mean it will be royalty-free for AMD to make Thunderbolt 3 controllers for their CPUs?
    williamlondondysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 33
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 33
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,411administrator
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    TB3 uses USB-C. The connector isn't proprietary. You may be thinking about the protocol.

    Besides, "royalty-free" is about as non-proprietary as you can get.
    edredstompypscooter63tallest skilwilliamlondondysamoriajony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 33
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,821member
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,284member
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I agree that the seemingly endless parade of protocols and connectors is tiresome, but you also forget the progression of time and technology that allowed (and necessitated) the progression of the protocols. If we were still dealing with VGA resolution monitors, files that maxed out at 2 MB and floppy disks then there would be no need for Thunderbolt 3.

    I'm not a fan of Apple completely removing all USB A ports from their laptops, but I like the Thunderbolt/USB C combination. Hopefully that will reduce the video dongle parade
    dysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 33
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,634member
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    You need to look at all of the variants of USB over the same period of time. I don't know for a fact that Apple's proprietary Lightning connector led to the USB Type C, it would appear more than coincidental, but for a fact, there are way too many different USB connectors for both mobile an desktop computing, and some of them are just terrible. USB Type C and TB 3 are a great match, and Lightning is still a leading connector for mobile.

    It looks like Apple will standardize on USB Type C, though Lightning will only be deprecated when Apple no longer needs a wired connector for power on mobile devices.

    Certainly, USB connectors are cheap!
  • Reply 9 of 33
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,010member
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    pscooter63stompymacxpressdysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 33
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,411administrator
    rob53 said:
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    I don't have firm numbers on licensing costs, but I was told about 10 minutes ago by somebody I've known for about 20 years that going free on TB3 is "pretty major" for his company and will "save a shitload of money."
    edited May 2017 pscooter63Solidysamoriajony0watto_cobrapalegolas
  • Reply 11 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,747member
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    How does this even make sense? There's a damn image showing a USB-C connector in this very thread and by now you should be aware of the USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pros.

    Then you have the old TB ports which was developed by Apple as a mini version of the VESA DisplayPort port, which Apple licensed for free.

    Finally, you have USB-A, which is also propritary, since it's owned by the USB-IF, yet that didn't make your list when you stated that proprietary ports are bad.


    stompydysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,747member

    rob53 said:
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    I don't have firm numbers on licensing costs, but I was told about 10 minutes ago by somebody I've known with for about 20 years that going free on TB3 is "pretty major" for his company and will "save a shitload of money."
    Licensing might now be free, but what's the cost of the other TB HW in devices? This might keep TB out of cheaper laptops, for example.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 33
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,010member
    rob53 said:
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    I don't have firm numbers on licensing costs, but I was told about 10 minutes ago by somebody I've known with for about 20 years that going free on TB3 is "pretty major" for his company and will "save a shitload of money."
    A big "shitload" or a small "shitload"? I'm sure licensing figures are confidential, although I don't understand why, but a bit more transparency on everyone's part would go a long way towards understanding where the costs really come from. We have a general idea how much profit Apple makes, how much their R&D budget is, but don't know anything close to real numbers for component and licensing costs. 

    Here's an example. Maybe OWC can fill in the blanks and be transparent about their costs. (It's more difficult since they don't carry their RAID boxes without Thunderbolt anymore)

    OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2, 4-bay 3.5” disk enclosure, USB3/2, FW800, eSATA on sale $249.99
    OWC ThunderBay 4, 4-bay Professional-Grade Enclosure 3.5” disks, Dual TB2 CyberSaver $397.50

    These are as close to compatible as they list so why does the Thunderbolt-only enclosure cost $150 more (even more when not on sale)? Is this mainly hardware costs for the TB controller or licensing? The older model has way more hardware costs and more types of licensing yet it costs less.

    I presume your friend supplies peripherals and not computers? Can we interpret "pretty major" as dropping costs 10%? 20%? 30%? Way more? or not even a 10% savings to the customer?

  • Reply 14 of 33
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,411administrator
    rob53 said:
    rob53 said:
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    I don't have firm numbers on licensing costs, but I was told about 10 minutes ago by somebody I've known with for about 20 years that going free on TB3 is "pretty major" for his company and will "save a shitload of money."
    A big "shitload" or a small "shitload"? I'm sure licensing figures are confidential, although I don't understand why, but a bit more transparency on everyone's part would go a long way towards understanding where the costs really come from. We have a general idea how much profit Apple makes, how much their R&D budget is, but don't know anything close to real numbers for component and licensing costs. 

    Here's an example. Maybe OWC can fill in the blanks and be transparent about their costs. (It's more difficult since they don't carry their RAID boxes without Thunderbolt anymore)

    OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2, 4-bay 3.5” disk enclosure, USB3/2, FW800, eSATA on sale $249.99
    OWC ThunderBay 4, 4-bay Professional-Grade Enclosure 3.5” disks, Dual TB2 CyberSaver $397.50

    These are as close to compatible as they list so why does the Thunderbolt-only enclosure cost $150 more (even more when not on sale)? Is this mainly hardware costs for the TB controller or licensing? The older model has way more hardware costs and more types of licensing yet it costs less.

    I presume your friend supplies peripherals and not computers? Can we interpret "pretty major" as dropping costs 10%? 20%? 30%? Way more? or not even a 10% savings to the customer?

    Peripherals. I did press for numbers, and he laughed and said "no."

    I'll send some emails today. Maybe somebody will say something.
    stompy
  • Reply 15 of 33
    ksecksec Posts: 1,554member
    The cost issues is basically Intel's fault. And one reason why you haven't seen a single AMD GPU / Motherboard with TB3 built in.

    I have a feeling this move has a lot to do with keeping Apple with Intel. As opening up and making this free is very Un-Intel. They could have done this many years ago. Why now? Why mentioned TB3 was suppose to be included in Kaby Lake and didn't? Depending on Model that could save $25 - $50 of BOM cost on MBP.

    I think and I hope this is Apple unhappy with Intel's roadmap and performance, from CPU to Baseband, and still failed to open up their Fab. ( We are pretty certain Apple will be with TSMC all the way to 5nm in 2020)
    dysamoria
  • Reply 16 of 33
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,821member
    rob53 said:
    macxpress said:
    bdkennedy said:
    Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt 3. It's time to stop with the failure proprietary connectors.
    I wouldn't necessarily call FireWire a failure either...sure, it didn't take off like USB did, but at the time, USB didn't have the bandwidth of FireWire so FireWire did serve its purpose and people still rely on it today. It certainly had its place in the market. Thunderbolt will be the same way. 
    Actually, Firewire did take off, especially with higher-end (at the time) video cameras. Firewire could handle more devices than USB. USB became the defacto-standard because it was the cheapest I/O port available for commodity PCs. Apple has never been about using the cheapest or slowest of anything, contrary to what many will say, they've been about pushing the envelope on everything that makes sense. The problem we have today with Thunderbolt is its cost and I'm still waiting for an anonymous source to answer my cost questions (reply 2) to see who we can blame and determine whether licensing costs are actually a big deal. I don't want guesses or rumors, I want to know (and can handle) the truth!
    Totally agree! I don't consider FW a failure at all. I'm not sure if Apple ever meant it to be mainstream. It was simply a better solution for its intended purpose. 
    stompydysamoria
  • Reply 17 of 33
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,241member
    ksec said:
    The cost issues is basically Intel's fault. And one reason why you haven't seen a single AMD GPU / Motherboard with TB3 built in.

    I have a feeling this move has a lot to do with keeping Apple with Intel. As opening up and making this free is very Un-Intel. They could have done this many years ago. Why now? Why mentioned TB3 was suppose to be included in Kaby Lake and didn't? Depending on Model that could save $25 - $50 of BOM cost on MBP.

    I think and I hope this is Apple unhappy with Intel's roadmap and performance, from CPU to Baseband, and still failed to open up their Fab. ( We are pretty certain Apple will be with TSMC all the way to 5nm in 2020)

    It tells me they've already lost the Apple exclusivity and Apple is going to offer AMD Ryzen CPUs/APUs moving forward. USB 3.1 gen 2 already in Ryzen CPUs. The release of Threadripper 16 Core/32 thread Ryzen 9 this July never mind the Epyc 32/64 for Dataservers [Apple will love these] makes it clear that the performance gains of the Infinity band interconnect and Perf/watt of AMDs new systems makes it a no brainer if you're Apple.

    AMDs first Ryzen APU comes with Vega GPGPU. iGPU just can't compete. They are designed for low power 15W to 45W laptop systems.

    Ryzen2 this Spring is 7nm fab on TSMC and GlobalFoundries. Same with their GPGPUs. The HBM2 memory is just another piece of the puzzle.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 18 of 33
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Bring Thunderbolt 4.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,752member
    macxpress said:
    Kudos to Intel for doing this. Hopefully, this will make Thunderbolt a more widely adopted technology. 
    What they need to do now is to assist other manufactures with integration.   Ultimately you will need TB interfaces that are low cost and integrated into the micto controller likely to be used by device manufactures.  
    dysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 33
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,752member

    ksec said:
    The cost issues is basically Intel's fault. And one reason why you haven't seen a single AMD GPU / Motherboard with TB3 built in.

    I have a feeling this move has a lot to do with keeping Apple with Intel. As opening up and making this free is very Un-Intel. They could have done this many years ago. Why now? Why mentioned TB3 was suppose to be included in Kaby Lake and didn't? Depending on Model that could save $25 - $50 of BOM cost on MBP.

    I think and I hope this is Apple unhappy with Intel's roadmap and performance, from CPU to Baseband, and still failed to open up their Fab. ( We are pretty certain Apple will be with TSMC all the way to 5nm in 2020)

    It tells me they've already lost the Apple exclusivity and Apple is going to offer AMD Ryzen CPUs/APUs moving forward. USB 3.1 gen 2 already in Ryzen CPUs. The release of Threadripper 16 Core/32 thread Ryzen 9 this July never mind the Epyc 32/64 for Dataservers [Apple will love these] makes it clear that the performance gains of the Infinity band interconnect and Perf/watt of AMDs new systems makes it a no brainer if you're Apple.

    AMDs first Ryzen APU comes with Vega GPGPU. iGPU just can't compete. They are designed for low power 15W to 45W laptop systems.

    Ryzen2 this Spring is 7nm fab on TSMC and GlobalFoundries. Same with their GPGPUs. The HBM2 memory is just another piece of the puzzle.
    I do hope that there is some truth to this speculation. It is very likely Apple and other manufactures are unhappy with Intels focus on IoT and other technologies instead of CPUs.  Switching to AMD, even for a few products should shake things up at Intel.  

    Thegood thing here is that Apple and Intel have clearly indicated thatTB was a partnership.   How much we dont know but i wouldnt be surprised to find out that Apple retained the right to make their own TB chips.  
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