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Friday, 25 February 2011 13:34

Apple claims dibs on Thunderbolt

Written by



Intel's Light Peak goes smug
Apple has refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup with several new features and it has also dropped Nvidia in favor of AMD in the discrete graphics department.

One novel feature incorporated in the design is Intel’s Light Peak technology, or Thunderbolt. Basically it is an advanced I/O port that delivers transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, twice the speed of USB 3.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire.

It uses PCIe x4 for data transfer and relies on DisplayPort for video, all in a single package. It can also be used to daisy-chain a number of devices without a hub, something that USB can only dream of. The new technology does not require an Intel platform and it could end up on quite a few platforms.

Apple is the first taker and it will be the exclusive Thunderbolt user for a few weeks and months. However, storage makers seem keen to embrace the new standard and there’s a good chance we will see some peripherals quite soon. Bear in mind that many Apple users are into content-intensive applications, i.e. video, hence Thunderbolt could be a godsend for many professionals.

Thunderbolt, or Light Peak, is a very promising piece of tech, but it will take a few years before we see significant market penetration. The fact that it has already been embraced by industry heavyweight Apple make a world of difference.
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Comments  

 
-3 #1 Exodite 2011-02-25 14:04
I predict a popularity akin to that of Firewire and mini-DP, other Apple favorites.

I'd love to be proven wrong though.
 
 
-2 #2 Naterm 2011-02-25 15:22
You mean technically superior but poor market performance?

I don't know, maybe. mini-DispalyPort is a pretty bad pick, that's actually doing fairly well. It's an actual standard now and AMD uses it on their cards extensively. You should have gone with the Apple Display Connector.

The reason USB beat Firewire in the market could well be it's wider application. Everything used USB, FireWire was pretty much limited to storage devices. USB also had Intel pushing it.

This time intel is pushing Thunderbolt (Light Peak is a better name) and both it and USB 3.0 don't really have much utility outside of storage applications. USB 3.0 has a bit of a head start, but nothing dramatic. I think Thunderbold could well take off in the coming years.
 
 
0 #3 Bl0bb3r 2011-02-25 16:00
Thunderbolt is not LightPeak... it's not optical.
 
 
-9 #4 Sodomy 2011-02-25 16:05
unless i am mistreaken, isn't the thoughput of display port arround 20gbps? so it seems as they have made a custom DP and cut the bandwidth in half, why not just update the DP standard to allow for USB like devices, most modern computers already have the port.
 
 
+4 #5 Naterm 2011-02-25 16:11
That's like saying 10GBASE-T isn't 10GbE, because it runs on copper. I remember hearing about intel running Light Peak on copper cables close to a year ago. It's the same underlying technology, only the physical layer is different. Thunderbolt is Light Peak, albeit less capable than a fiber version of Light Peak.
 
 
-5 #6 Exodite 2011-02-25 17:51
Quoting Naterm:
You mean technically superior but poor market performance?

mini-DispalyPort is a pretty bad pick, that's actually doing fairly well. It's an actual standard now and AMD uses it on their cards extensively.

That's my point, yes.

Mini-DP, or more commonly full DP, is actually decently common on business laptops at well but I'd still say it's a pointless interface.

Why?

Because no _displays_ are using it. Aside from the Apple Cinema Display and a handful of upper-high-end professional displays.

There's simply nothing to attach to it.

Of course on Macs the problem is exacerbated by the the distinct lack of any other display connectivity.
 
 
0 #7 yasin 2011-02-25 21:43
Quoting Sodomy:
unless i am mistreaken, isn't the thoughput of display port arround 20gbps? so it seems as they have made a custom DP and cut the bandwidth in half

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12570323

Turns out it has potential 100Gbps throughput if you use fibre optics, but Intel has opted instead for copper wires, which limits throughput to 10Gbps.
 
 
+3 #8 The blue fox 2011-02-26 00:43
I can almost here Steve Jobs talking about Thunderbolt and this next speech. And how exclusive to apple and that it's faster then usb 3.0.
In a way i am glad apple gets Thunderbolt first. So when Thunderbolt comes to the other 80% of computer's out there we will have some peripherals to use and any bugs will be worked out.
 
 
-3 #9 Naterm 2011-02-26 01:48
I wouldn't say 'no displays' are using DP. My HP 2475w monitors have DisplayPort. They're by no means high-end professional displays, they're mid-ranged IPS monitors. Yeah, they're not super cheap, 16x9, TN shit piles. They're still not high-end displays by any means. I remember DVI being a rarity for quite some time after it debuted.

DisplayPort's bandwidth depends on the number of lanes and how fast they are. With a typical four lane link, bandwidth is 5.18, 8.64, or 17.28Gb/s plus an auxiliary channel.
 
 
-6 #10 Exodite 2011-02-26 11:26
Quoting Naterm:
My HP 2475w monitors have DisplayPort. They're by no means high-end professional displays, they're mid-ranged IPS monitors.

Which pretty much proves my point.

Believe me, I'd love to see DP migrating to a common implementation - why not after all - but I can't see it happening.

Unlike DVI, which was the first true digital interface for consumer displays, DP doesn't bring anything significant to the table.

Comparing the technical merits of DP 1.2 to HDMI 1.4a is not as clear-cut and one-sided as doing the same with Firewire 800 and USB 2.0.

Anyway, Apple did make a good call in so far that they didn't introduce a new pointless port but rather diversified an existing one.
 

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