Apple Announces New Mac Minis with Haswell. What?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 17, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, mac mini, mac, Intel, haswell, apple

I was not planning to report on Apple's announcement but, well, this just struck me as odd.

So Apple has relaunched the Mac Mini with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, after two years of waiting. It is the same height as the Intel NUC, but it also almost twice the length and twice the width (Apple's 20cm x 20cm versus the NUC's ~11cm x 11cm when the case is included). So, after waiting through the entire Haswell architecture launch cycle, right up until the imminent release of Broadwell, they are going with the soon-to-be outdated architecture, to update their two-year-old platform?

((Note: The editorial originally said "two-year-old architecture". I thought that Haswell launched about six months earlier than it did. The mistake was corrected.))

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I wonder if, following the iTunes U2 deal, this device will come bundled with Limp Bizkit's "Nookie"...

The price has been reduced to $499, which is a welcome $100 price reduction especially for PC developers who want a Mac to test cross-platform applications on. It also has Thunderbolt 2. These are welcome additions. I just have two, related questions: why today and why Haswell?

The new Mac Mini started shipping yesterday. 15-watt Broadwell-U is expected to launch at CES in January with 28W parts anticipated a few months later, for the following quarter.

Source: Apple

NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti on Thunderbolt 2 by DIYers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 7, 2014 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, nvidia, GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Externally-attached GPUs have been a topic for many years now. Numerous companies have tried, including AMD and Lucid, but no solution has ever been a widely known and available product. Even as interfaces increase in bandwidth and compatibility with internal buses, it has never been something that a laptop salesperson could suggest to users who want to dock into a high-performance station at home. At best, we are seeing it in weird "coin mining" racks to hang way more GPUs above a system than could physically mount on the motherboard.

Apparently that has not stopped the DIY community, according to chatter on Tech Inferno forums. While the above video does not really show the monitor, MacBook Pro, and GPU enclosure at the same time, let alone all wired together and on, it seems reasonable enough. The video claims to give the MacBook Pro (running Windows 8.1) access to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti with fairly high performance, despite the reduced bandwidth. Quite cool.

Check out the forum post for a few more details.

Source: Tech Inferno

NAB 2014: Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Announced

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, NAB 14, NAB, Elgato

Hmm, this is more Thunderbolt than I think we heard all year. Is there like, a video production event going on right now? No matter, because news is news (and so are product announcements). The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock connects to Thunderbolt, go figure, and provides three USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI 1.4 output, one 3.5mm headphone jack, and one 3.5mm microphone jack. It also has a second Thunderbolt port to daisy chain with other devices, which is a common trait in Thunderbolt devices. It will retail for $229.95.

Yup, it is a Thunderbolt accessory.

Why does it seem like every Mac user in commercials have a studio apartment???

It makes sense to see devices like this. Thunderbolt is really an extension of PCIe which allows anything that was once an add-in board to be connected externally, albeit with significantly reduced bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0 16x. This looks very clean, tidy, and much more desirable than crawling under the desk and swapping wires and thumb drives in the darkness behind your PC.

I would like to see some benchmarks on this device, however. Clearly, the sum of these outputs should be higher than the bandwidth allowed by Thunderbolt (especially if daisy-chaining another Thunderbolt device). I wonder how efficient it will be at keeping high quality signals when several devices are connected and running simultaneously.

The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock is available now for computers with a Thunderbolt port and either Mac OSX 10.9 or Windows 8.1. I guess us Windows 7 fans need to get used to the dust bunnies behind our PCs for a little longer...

Source: Elgato

NAB 2014: Thunderbolt Networking Announced for Windows

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: NAB, NAB 14, Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt

Video professionals are still interested in Thunderbolt in probably much the same way as Firewire needed to be pried from their cold, dead hands. It is a very high bandwidth connector, useful for sending and receiving 4K video. Also, it was originally exclusive to Apple so you can guess which industries were first-adopters. Intel has focused their Thunderbolt announcements on the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show. This year, Thunderbolt Networking will be available for Windows via a driver. This will allow any combination of Macs and Windows PCs to be paired together by a 10 Gigabit network.

Intel-Thunderbolt2-Networking.jpg

Of course, this is not going to be something that you can plug into a router. This is a point-to-point network for sharing files between two devices... really fast. Perhaps one use case would be a workstation with a Mac and a Windows PC on a KVM switch. If both are connected with Thunderbolt 2, they could share the same storage pool.

While this feature already exists on Apple devices, the PC driver will be available... "soon".

Source: Intel

LaCie Ships Industry's First 5TB External Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | February 20, 2014 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: LaCie, external drive, 5TB, thunderbolt

That didn't take very long, Toshiba just announced their 5TB drive and now LaCie has announced an external drive with 5TB of storage.  You will need Thunderbolt to properly interface with it, perhaps a good thing for users since transferring 5TB over USB 2.0 is not the most enjoyable experience.  This also means you can pick up the 5 bay model called 5big and have 25TB of external storage available for you.

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CUPERTINO, CA – Today, LaCie announced the availability of 5TB, 7200 rpm hard–drive capacities in its 5big Thunderbolt Series, 2big Thunderbolt Series and d2 Thunderbolt Series. Delivering external storage products that range from 5TB single drive systems to 25TB RAID solutions boosts storage capacity by 20 percent. This increase showcases the company's commitment to provide the fastest, highest capacity storage solutions on the market.

Increasingly larger file formats for film and photography have driven the demand for more storage capacity. The availability of 5TB hard drives enables LaCie to deliver significantly more storage capacity in its same compact desktop designs. This saves professionals valuable desktop space.

LaCie's 5big Thunderbolt now features a capacity of up to 25TB, which makes it the largest 5–bay storage solution on the market. Combined with industry–leading speeds up to 785 MB/s*, it is the ideal product for video professionals to pair with a Thunderbolt–enabled computer, like the new Mac Pro, to drive 4K workflows. Photography professionals will appreciate the larger capacities of the d2 Thunderbolt and 2big Thunderbolt, with the same fast transfer speeds and responsive photo browsing that they depend on from these products.

The new capacities are also available on the LaCie 2big Quadra and d2 Quadra storage solutions. All products can be purchased at the LaCie Online Store and LaCie Resellers.

Source: LaCie

ASUS Never Sold ThunderboltEX. Intel Has Bigger Plans?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | August 18, 2013 - 12:22 AM |
Tagged: thunderboltex, thunderbolt

Thunderbolt has not exactly caught on for mainstream devices. Outside of media production, USB has a strong brand and carries less of a premium than Thunderbolt. Motherboard vendors and system builders can also more easily implement USB 3.0. Intel, according to VR-Zone, addresses this problem with a reference PCI Express x4 add-in card to be produced and marketed by select Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners.

The select partners are, according to current plans, ODMs with existing Thunderbolt motherboard designs.

ASUS_ThunderboltEX Card_4.jpg

ASUS TB_Header Add-in Card, about 19 months ago

Thunderbolt is, basically, the marriage between PCIe and DisplayPort as an external interface. Motherboards can either ship with Thunderbolt ports or a header for non-existent add-in cards. These TB_Headers, on ASUS motherboards, are General Purpose I/O (GPIO) connections used for a fairly unclear task. Officially, they help facilitate a DisplayPort connection to the integrated GPU although they are required even if using DisplayPort pass-through. The card has been stuck in certification woes.

In the Intel's reference design plans, both a GPIO header and internal DisplayPort connection are required on motherboards wishing to support this add-in card. This ends the hope of current system owners wishing to upgrade most existing rigs.

This initiative more seems like an attempt to defer most of the cost of Thunderbolt implementation to a down-the-line upgrade option. I do feel bad for ASUS. They appear to have the problem solved over a year ago with a solution very similar to the one Intel is working on now. If certification were not an issue, they could have very well been first to market. Now it appears they will be in the first wave.

Source: VR-Zone

Computex 2013: Thunderbolt 2 with 4K support

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2013 - 08:58 PM |
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, Light Peak

We received Thunderbolt, on the PC at least, a year ago. While not yet ubiquitous, we will be receiving an update to the interface sooner than you would expect. The main advantages of Thunderbolt is the ridiculous bandwidth and ability to daisy-chain with displays. Thunderbolt 2 looks to advance both of those features.

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Thunderbolt is based around a PCI Express signal for data and DisplayPort for video, both combined down a single cable. The cable, in fact, is compatible with Mini DisplayPort adapters and devices if used exclusively for video. The upgrade to Thunderbolt 2 advances the video standard to DisplayPort 1.2; as a result, Thunderbolt 2 devices will be capable of driving a 4K monitor (supposedly with sound) without requiring multiple cables to be connected.

In terms of strict bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 will provide double the data rate of the original Thunderbolt. Instead of 10Gbps, new devices will be able to transfer at 20Gbps. This is especially useful for video content creators looking to manage, in real time, 4K or 120Hz data transferring between cameras and video gear. Struggling with large video capture bandwidth is something we know about...

As expected, there is not really any talk about specific prices yet (I would expect that depends on implementation) but you should look forward to it landing either really late this year or early next year. As for the original Thunderbolt? Well, the new standard is backwards compatible but there is concern whether new devices would be fairly crippled without the new standard.

Source: Intel

Podcast #246 - ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX motherboard, more Frame Rating, DirectX 12 and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2013 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: video, xeon, thunderbolt, roccat, quadro, premiere, podcast, opencl, nerdytec, Ivy Bridge-E, haswell, frame rating, firepro, falcon ridge, DirectX 12, couchmaster, ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #246- 04/11/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX motherboard, more Frame Rating, DirectX 12 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:01:46

  1. Winner last week? Mike McLaughlin!! Congrats!
  2. Week in Review:
  3. 0:24:00 NerdyTec COUCHMASTER
  4. News items of interest:
  5. 0:47:00 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Ultra Brush dust remover
  6. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  7. Closing/outro

 

NAB 2013: G-Technology Launches G-Dock With Thunderbolt

Subject: Storage | April 9, 2013 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, thunderbolt, hard drives, g-technology, g-drive, g-dock

G-Technology took the wraps off of a new external storage product lineup during NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) this week. The new series includes the G-Dock thunderbolt-connected hard drive dock, and the G-Drive and G-Drive Plus Evolution external hard drives.

The G-Dock is an aluminum external hard drive enclosure that features two hot-swappable drive bays that can accept up to two G-Drive (or G-Drive Plus) external hard drives. The G-Dock includes two Thunderbolt ports for daisy chaining other Thunderbolt devices and to connect to the PC. While in the G-Dock, the drives connect via SATA 6Gbps ports. The G-Dock supports JBOD, RAID 1, and RAID 0 modes to configure it for storage, data redundancy, and performance. The G-Dock comes with a Thunderbolt cable and two 1TB G-Drive Evolution external hard drives. It has a MSRP of $749.95 and will be available in May.

G-Technology Evolution G-Dock and G-Drive Lineup.jpg

G-Technology's G-Dock enclosure accepts the company's own G-Drive ruggedized hard drives. The G-Drive Evolution drives are fitted into an aluminum case. The 2.5" 7200 RPM drives come in 500GB and 1TB capacities. According to G-Technology, the external hard drives are capable of up to 126MB/s transfer speeds. The G-Drives connect via SATA 6Gbps while in the G-Dock, but the drives also feature USB 3.0 ports to connect to PCs when it is used as an individual drive. Available in May, the G-Drives have an MSRP of $149.95 for the 500GB capacity and $199.95 for the 1TB model.

Finally, the G-Drive Plus is a 2.5" 7200 RPM drive that is also installed in an aluminum case (though it is a bit thicker than the non-plus G-Drive). It has the same USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports, but it is only available as a 1TB drive. It is reportedly capable of up to 250MB/s transfer rates. The speed increase comes at the cost of a higher MSRP of $349.95. The G-Drive Plus will be available this summer.

The G-Dock and included G-Drives are Mac formatted out of the box and have a 3 year warranty. The company is positioning the multi-bay dock and hard drives at media professionals that need high-capacity portable storage and high-bandwidth connections.

Source: G-Technology

Intel updates Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: Intel, thunderbolt, falcon ridge, DSL4510, DSL4410

As promised, the new Falcon Ridge Thunderbolt controller will be arriving soon, bringing improvements to Thunderbolt.  There will be two different updates supplied by Intel, the first is a doubling of bandwidth to 20Gbit/s which will significantly outpace eSATA and may help drive adoption of the new standard.  Less attractive for the consumer but interesting to businesses is a new revision of the current 10Gbit/s standard which will require less power to do the same job as the current controller.  The Inquirer also mentions that Intel is still looking to replace the copper with fibre optics, though what that will do to the already high price of Thunderbolt cables is unknown as of yet.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced an update to its Thunderbolt bus boosting bandwidth to 20Gbit/s while introducing 10Gbit/s controllers with lower power consumption."

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Source: The Inquirer