Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 04:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ThunderboltEX II, Thunderbolt 2, CES 2014, CES, asus
It has been a rocky road for the ASUS Thunderbolt EX expansion card(s). Development was not a problem. They were created but could not be released because of Intel certification woes (because those never happen). The specific reason was never identified but they did hold back releases until after Intel designed a reference add-in card (AIC) for select Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners.
No need to stew over my alphabet soup.
ASUS has now announced the ThunderboltEX II expansion card which is the first Intel-certified AIC providing a single Thunderbolt 2 port. Despite the multitude of delays, ASUS should still be first to market albeit a market where USB 3.0 became fairly ubiquitous (a lot can happen in a one-year exclusivity). The Thunderbolt EXII is rated at 20 Gbps. The card will be compatible with certain 8-series motherboards from ASUS.
A dual-port AIC, the ThunderboltEX II/DUAL, is also announced.
Still not much on pricing or availability. All we know is that the ThunderboltEX II should be the first to market and the DUAL will come at some point after that.
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Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2013 - 06:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, Thunderbolt 2, sonnet, Intel, idf 2013, idf, gigabyte, asus, asrock, aja, 4k
Intel recently launched its next generation Thunderbolt 2 interface, and several devices using the new connection were shown off at the Intel Developer Forum. The major takeaway from Thunderbolt 2 is the increased bandwidth and benefits to video production houses working with large uncompressed media. Specifically, Thunderbolt 2 is a PCI-Express based external interface that sends both video output and data down a single cable. Upgrades over the original 10Gbps Thunderbolt standard include an updated to the DisplayPort 1.2 video standard and double the bandwidth to 20Gbps. Thanks to the increased bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 enables simultaneous video output and video file transfer of 4K media. Video editors can watch and transfer 4K video to an DisplayPort-equipped monitor and external RAID array respectively.
Intel is kicking off the Thunderbolt 2 standard with the launch of its DSL5520 and DSL5320 Thunderbolt 2 controllers, which are already in the hands of device manufactures. In fact, there were quite a few bits of hardware being shown off at this years IDF that already support the new Thunderbolt 2 standard. Intel is expecting even more devices in 2014.
Professional video editing and workstation hardware with Thunderbolt 2
While consumer PC hardware will be supporting Thunderbolt 2, the new interface is most beneficial to professional users and IDF was the launch pad for several high end pieces of production gear. Sonnet launched the Echo Express III external PCI-E card chassis that allows users to hook up PCI-E cards to systems via Thunderbolt 2 (for example: video capture card or fast solid state storage). Also, AJA showed off a video/audio capture box called the IO 4K that supports daisy chaining other Thunderbolt 2 devices and acts as a video capture card capable of taking in 4K and UltraHD video sources as well as high end audio inputs. Finally, PROMISE Technology showed off its Pegasus2 RAID 5 enclosure and SANLink2 Thunderbolt 2 bridge device.
External boxes are not the only professional products with Thunderbolt 2 at IDF, however. The technology is also being integrated into workstations, including the Apple Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports and HP’s new lineup of desktop workstations.
Z87 Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2
Thunderbolt 2 will also be used in consumer gear as well, including Z87 motherboards. Asus, AsRock, and Gigabyte all had motherboards on display that each featured two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new interface will be available on the multiple boards from the manufacturers. German tech site ComputerBase.de posted several photos of Thunderbolt 2-equipped motherboards and gave a glimpse at the upcoming hardware.
The Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad, an AsRock Z87 motherboard, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH spotted at IDF by ComputerBase.de.
Of note are the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad, AsRock Extreme 11/ac, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH. All boards off LGA 1150 CPU sockets, four DDR3 DIMM slots, a slew of SATA 6Gbps ports, multiple PCI-E 3.0 x16 and x1 slots, and rich rear IO including two Thunderbolt 2 ports (naturally).
The AsRock Z87 Extreme 11/ac via ComputerBase.de.
The following chart breaks down the specifications. Unfortunately pricing and availability have not been announced for these boards, but expect to pay a premium for the high end gaming hardware and new Thunderbolt 2 controller. (The Asrock Extreme 11/ac in particular takes the word “high end” to the, well, extreme.)
|ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad||AsRock Extreme 11/ac||Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH|
|PCI-E 3.0 x16||3||4||5|
|PCI-E 3.0 x1||4||3||2|
|Audio||6 x analog, 1 x optical||5 x analog, 1 x optical||5 x analog, 1 x optical|
|Video out||1 x HDMI||1 x HDMI, 1 x DP||1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI|
|USB 3.0||6 (+4 USB 2.0)||6 (+2 USB 2.0)||6|
It is promising to see so many devices this early into Thunderbolt 2's launch, and the various high end motherboard using both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 gives consumers the best of both worlds and access to all manner of external peripherals. The bandwidth increase is certainly welcome, and I am interested to see what sorts of new devices it enables. For now, I think Thunderbolt 2 is going to be mainly a professional (or at least "pro-sumer") technology. With that siad, 4K capture and video output is already being worked on, and I am curious to see what other applications and technologies will really be able to push the new 20Gbps interface and what trickles down to the consumer space!
Are you excited about Thunderbolt 2? Let us know what you think of the IDF-launched products and the interface technology in general in the comments below!
Subject: Storage | September 13, 2013 - 04:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, SANlink 2, raid, promise, 4k
Promise Technology has announced that it is launching new storage solutions with Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 interface. Shown off at IDF 2013, the storage products include the Pegasus 2 series and SANLink 2 Thunderbolt 2 to 8G Fiber Channel bridge. The Pegasus 2 series is a RAID 5 external storage array that connects to Windows or Mac machines using Thunderbolt 2. The SANLink 2 bridge product allows users to connect a PC using Thunderbolt 2 to Promise Technology's VTrak or VTrak A-Class shared SAN storage.
The storage products are aimed mainly at professional video editors that are working with 4K content. According to Promise Technology, the 20Gbps bi-directional Thunderbolt 2 connection enables video editors to simultaneously transfer and display 4K video content.
Promise Technology CEO James Lee was quoted as saying:
"With the industry now poised for the widespread adoption of 4K video, the Pegasus2 Series with Thunderbolt 2 technology will revolutionize how video creators are managing 4K workflows in addition to delivering unprecedented performance to artists and enthusiasts who love to create captivating content."
Both the Pegasus2 and SANLink2 products with Thunderbolt 2 will be available in Fall 2013 for so-far undisclosed prices. The full press blast is below, for more information.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2013 - 08:58 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
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