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

Alex Satrapa grail at goldweb.com.au
Sun Feb 27 16:23:35 MST 2011

On 28/02/2011, at 07:29 , steve jenkin wrote:

> Is this a game changer outside of video-editing on laptops?

Thunderbolt will be a game changer just like USB before it.

It's not just aimed at video workstations. Thunderbolt augments/replaces Apple's existing DisplayPort & FireWire (and DVI, HDMI, USB & FibreChannel). The idea is you have your screen, hard disk, USB peripherals hanging off a Thunderbolt bus, then simply plug in the Thunderbolt connector to have your laptop "dock" with the desktop environment.

Apple is also exploring the idea of incorporating an Thunderbolt bus into the MagSafe connector. Do you see where that's going? Imagine a MacBook Air with no expansion ports. Out in the field you use the basic keyboard and trackpad, at home you plug it in using the MacSafe connector and instantly have access to your 4TB Drobo, two 30" cinema displays, Gigabit Ethernet, etc.

> 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

Everyone else will do it because Apple is doing it. Other PC manufacturers would be releasing Thunderbolt now, except for those unfortunate bugs with Sandybridge.

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

The European Community has only just managed to get micro-USB established as a standard charging port for phones. It wouldn't surprise me to find manufacturers switching to Thunderbolt-compatible ports with a micro-USB charging adaptor plug though. With in-phone cameras capable of recording HD video, and phone memory growing faster all the time (64GB of storage in a phone!) we'll need faster busses in order to sync within 21st century attention spans.

> For servers in small sites, will this punt 10Gbps ethernet?

For servers in small sites, Thunderbolt will mean they can do better than FibreChannel for much less money - the only catch being that the Thunderbolt standard doesn't provide for multiple hosts connecting to one device. Remember that Thunderbolt is a peripheral interconnect bus, not intended for networking.

Want a multi-monitor gaming setup? Get a video card with Thunderbolt multiple-display support. No more messing about with SLI, multiple video cards with DVI splitters or whatnot. Just plug the first monitor into the card, plug the second monitor into the first, plug the third monitor into the second… etc.

My expectation is that in two years we'll have forgotten about that USB fad of the naughties. USB 3.0 will fill in the gap between today and the arrival of LaCie's Little Big Disk (and others of the ilk) on the shelves, alongside the PCI cards to give your "old" (i.e.: non-Sandybridge) computer a Thunderbolt port.

How can anyone think that Thunderbolt will be a niche market?

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