[clug] [OT] New Interconnect from Intel+Apple: Thunderbolt. 2*10Gbps. mini-display-port compatible

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Sun Feb 27 13:29:56 MST 2011

Thought some people on the list might be interested.
This might be like firewire/i-Link: niche market.

Definitely targeted at video workstations. (latptops able to run
professional video editing suite)

Latest Apple notebooks all have this interface.
 - uses mini display-port connector (& std cables?).
 - max 3m cables. focus on low-latency & good time-sync.
 - combines display and data links.
   - data is PCI-express extension
 - backwards compatible for displays: old disp. last in chain.
 - a bus, not master-slave like USB
 - 7 devices, IIRC.
 - hot-pluggable
 - supplies up to 10W (only on copper, not optical)
 - uses 4 'lanes', each 10Gbps. Not sure if each bi-directional.
 - supports many topologies: star, tree, chain.
 - claims "simple" adaptors for any PCI-e chipset.
   - Firewire, HDMI mentioned. USB not mentioned.

Began as Intel "Light Peak", released on copper, with promise of optical
to follow (optical transceivers built-in to cable).

Demo was "streaming 4*1080p video simultaneously".

Apple marketing: <http://www.apple.com/au/thunderbolt/>
Intel marketing: <http://www.intel.com/technology/io/thunderbolt/index.htm>
Apple Insider comment:


Is this a game changer outside of video-editing on laptops?
[and the ultimate laptop docking station/home theatre]

Only if the price of Intel controller chips and adaptors is reasonable...
 - needs other laptop manufacturers to get on-board
 - needs peripheral vendors to embrace it

Wild card is volume production & inclusion in smartphones and Tablets/iPads.

USB 3.0 and super-speed (1*5Gbps) has 12 months head-start and might
always be cheaper.
Could be just a rerun of USB 2.0 and Firewire 400: each dominates a
niche. This time "just one connector" could be a factor...

The optical cables will be simple, but you'd expect, expensive.
Overcomes a major limitation (distance) of both USB & Firewire.
[At home, you can locate your fast filestore away from your Media
Centre/home theatre. somewhere safe & relatively fire-proof.]

For servers in small sites, will this punt 10Gbps ethernet?
Can Daisy Chain, so don't need hubs/switches with under 7 devices per bus.

Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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