Thunderbolt for Windows Performance Preview - ASUS P8Z77-V Premium

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | May 21, 2012 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, p8z77-v premium, msi, asus

We have really been waiting for this since we first saw the release of Thunderbolt on the Apple MacBooks last year, but we finally have it: Thunderbolt support for PC users!  Both MSI and ASUS today announced availability of motherboards with integrated Thunderbolt connectivity: the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium and the MSI Z77A-GD80 will both get you a single integrated Thunderbolt port.

You can see MSI's full press release right hereWe can't find the ASUS press release anywhere Here is the ASUS press release as well, but here are a few selections:

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"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt technology onto Asus motherboards”, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."

...

With its long history of working with high tech vendors, ASUS is able to show its strength and commitment to innovation with a close relationship to three of the leading brands currently producing products with Thunderbolt technology, Elgato, LaCie, and PROMISE.

...

Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional 10Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-ready devices with a single connection as well as offering full display port support for a 7th Thunderbolt or display port equipped monitor. This allows for a clutter-free computing experience while offering unprecedented levels of performance. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag. In addition for content professional this connection has been designed form the ground up for multimedia offering low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications. PC enthusiast and gamers can take immediate advantage combining Thunderbolt and on-board Lucid Virtu MVP to enjoy top-notch graphics performance.

Even better, we have some in-action video of the new ASUS Thunderbolt-implementation including performance!

This video was recorded well before today's launch during our Z77 Live Review and clearly shows some of the benefits of Thunderbolt, as well as some of the limitations, you'll find if you pick up the ASUS P8ZZ77-V Premium motherboard!

New mLink PCI-E to Thunderbolt Enclosure Shown Off at NAB 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 24, 2012 - 10:37 AM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, PCIe SSD, pcie, mlink, apple

California based company mLogic LLC debuted a new “mLink” Thunderbolt enclosure at the NAB 2012 show that will allow users to connect PCI-E based cards to computers using Thunderbolt connections. Unfortunately, enthusiasts wishing to slap a graphics card into the enclosure are out of luck. The incompatibility is due to graphics cards not having Thunderbolt aware drivers and may be something that is rectified in the future but currently not an option.

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Right now, there are only a few storage devices and networking NICs that are compatible with the mLink enclosure including Apricorn and OWC PCI-E SSDs, Atto Technology’s Fiber Channel network cards, and Atto Technology’s SAS RAID controller cards. (The full list of compatible devices is located here.) Not terribly exciting, but some users will find it very useful. The design is very streamlined and sleek, though its worth mentioning that it comes at a cost of $400 USD.

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Enthusiasts wanting to add more graphics horsepower to their notebooks will have to look elsewhere, but for users that need super fast storage in a sleek industrial design enclosure it is an interesting option. The price will be something that turns many people off of it, however. It is slated to release in June with pre-orders being accepted now. More information along with photos of the device is available here.

It sure looks nice, but is this something people will actually use? Let us know in the comments!

Source: mLogic

LaCie's Little Big Disk now comes in Thunderbolt

Subject: Storage | January 20, 2012 - 10:50 AM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, LaCie, Little Big Disk, ssd, external drive

Thunderbolts and lightning have been gracing the front page of PC Perspective for a while now, the new external interfaces are well described but there is a lack of products on the market to review.   Hopefully that will change soon as there is little point of having an interface with nothing to plug into it.  LaCie is one of the few to have actually managed to get a product to market, a Thunderbolt connected external 240GB SSD version of their Little Big Disk.  It was certainly fast in the testing that TechReviewSource performed but it does leave one with a question, who needs to back up 200GB in a big hurry and is willing to spend over $900 for the ability to do so?

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"The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt (240GB SSD) is currently the least expensive way to obtain Thunderbolt speeds for your late-model Mac. It's half the price of the Promise Pegasus R6, the only other Thunderbolt drive on the market, but that doesn't mean it's cheap."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

AMD Lightning Bolt Strikes At Intel's Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, miniDP, lightning bolt, cable

We saw AMD at CES, and they showed off some hardware; however, it seems they forgot to mention something. Anand managed to get a sneak peek at a certain Thunderbolt competitor that AMD is calling "Lightning Bolt." At first resembling a cable with mini-Display Port connectors, the AMD technology is able pass Display Port video, power, and USB 3.0 over a single cable.

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Image the Lightning Bolt cable looking like this miniDP to miniDP cable.

The company is currently working to integrate the Lightning Bolt technology into laptops and ultrathins as a cheap, single cable dock connection. The current implementation involves using a muxer to combine the USB, Display Port output, and power from the PSU electrical signals and pass it over a single miniDP cable. This miniDP cable will resemble current cables but will be electrically different by having two pins on the connectors altered. The dock that the Lightning Bolt cable connects to then splits out or demuxes the signals into a MiniDP connection and a USB 3.0 port(s). AMD is planning for the Lightning Bolt docks to cost about as much as current USB 3.0 hubs, which run about $40 USD at the time of writing. Unfortunately, there are some caveats to the technology including (possibly) limited power delivery and limits on the USB 3.0 connection. The company stated that Lightning Bolt transfers between the computer and USB 3.0 devices would be faster than USB 2.0 speeds, the connection would not support the full 5 Gbits maximum speed.

More information can be found here. Personally, I'm happy that AMD is stepping in despite the tacky name. At the very least, I can see Lightning Bolt connectors being features on AMD notebooks and providing useful competition to bring down the cost of Intel's Thunderbolt cables and hardware. It may also cause Intel to reduce any licensing fees that may be involved with OEMs building Thunderbolt into computers. Although the AMD technology is all electrical (no fancy optics), and thus inherently slower than Intel's theoretical maximum speeds, the cheaper hardware means OEMs will be more likely to integrate it into computers and consumers will be more likely to buy into it. Assuming, of course, that they can pull it off, "Lightning Bolt" sounds like a connection technology that is "fast enough" at a price I wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for in a laptop.

Apart from the name, which is a bit... let's say unoriginal, what do you think of the AMD tech?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Anandtech

VIA Labs USB 3.0 Active Optical Cable Solution Demonstrated at CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged: CES, VIA, usb 3.0, thunderbolt

VIA Labs have teamed up with Fiber Optic Communications Inc., PCL Technologies Inc., OpTarget Solutions Co., Ltd. and Universal Microelectronics Co,. Ltd. to create a transceiver for use with USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables.   This USB 3.0 AOC seems to be what LightPeak, aka Thunderbolt was originally supposed to be.  Thunderbolt did arrive, it showed up quite a bit at CES 2012, but as a copper interconnect as opposed to the multiple wavelength fibre optics we were originally promised.  If the 5 gigabit portion of the name is truly indicative of transfer speeds then this type of USB connection will run about 7 times faster than the Thunderbolt devices that were shown at CES.  As well, the cables can be run for over 100 metres, so you might just be able to wire your house for USB after all. 

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Taipei, Taiwan, January 13, 2012 - VIA Labs, Inc., a leading supplier of USB 3.0 integrated chip controllers, today announced the VIA Labs VO510 5-Gigabit Optical Transceiver which is being showcased at CES 2012. The VIA Labs V0510 Optical Transceiver is used in USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables (AOC) which enables rapid data transfers and high-definition multimedia across distances of over 100 meters. Developed in collaboration with FOCI, PCL, OpTarget and UMEC, USB 3.0 AOC solutions offer exciting new possibilities in the use of USB 3.0 technology.

"This USB 3.0 AOC was designed to be fully compliant with SuperSpeed USB electrical specifications," said Dr. Janpu Hou, Vice President of FOCI. "We are very pleased to be a partner on this collaboration team. This partnership will accelerate the deployment of breakthrough USB 3.0 technologies and enable new applications for all USB 3.0 developers." As a partner of FOCI, Dr. Thomas Liu, President of PCL said "As the world leading optical transceiver ODM/CM company,PCL Technologies is excited to build and demonstrate the optical USB 3.0 cable in collaboration with VIA Labs and Foci. With the USB 3.0 AOCs providing higher data rates across much longer distances, we will enable usage scenarios in Digital Signage, Surveillance, and Zero Client applications."

"OpTarget works with leading system integrators, distributors, and OEMs in the development and delivery of Smart Digital Signage and Zero Client solutions for commercial, education, and industrial customers. With the ultra-thin profile and long reach of the new USB 3.0 AOC powered by VIA Labs' Optical Transceiver, we can now offer effective and low-cost solutions based on existing USB devices while providing an improved user experience, increased functionality, and greater system flexibility" said Mu Chen, President of OpTarget.

"The UMEC Thumb ONE USB 3.0 AOC can extend gigabit-speed USB 3.0 transmission distance up to 100m (330ft) with optical fibers. Since optical fibers carry light instead of electric impulses, they are highly resistant to electromagnetic interference and they do not radiate any of their own, making the USB 3.0 AOC an excellent solution for applications in Medical Imaging Equipment, Broadcast TV, and others where high-tolerance to interference is desirable" said K.T. Chao, Vice President of UMEC.

"We are very grateful to our partners, who worked closely with VIA Labs to bring the USB 3.0 AOC from concept to reality," said Jiin Lai, Chief Technical Officer, VIA Labs, Inc. "With the VO510 and our partner's AOC products at mass production readiness, we are looking to expand our coverage of other interconnects such as PCI Express."

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: VIA Labs

CES 2012: MSI GUS II External Thunderbolt Graphics Upgrade System

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: CES, thunderbolt, msi, gus ii, gus, external graphics

While wandering around the MSI suite at The Venetian today I came across a very interesting new device.  The GUS II is an external discrete graphics card dock that connects to a notebook PC (or small-form factor, etc) via a Thunderbolt connection. 

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Thunderbolt is a somewhat new interface that extends the PCI Express bus outside of the machine allowing for performance as high as 10 Gb/s per channel in its full implementation.  Current Intel implementations that ship with the Macbook Air and likely included in the first batch of Thunderbolt-capable Ultrabooks are built around Eagle Ridge that offers two bi-directional channels.  Still, even with a 10 Gb/s rating, we are seeing more than enough bandwidth for a discrete graphics card.

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You can see that device obviously won't fit your new Radeon HD 7970 3GB in there but the GUS II will support cards with as much as 150 watts of power consumption via the included external power brick.  75 watts of power is supplied by the internal PEG slot while the internal 6-pin ATX power connector supplies another 75 watts.

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MSI was running an HD 5770 inside the GUS II on a MacBook Pro running Windows 7.  Unigine Heaven was playing on the graphics card outputs and it was definitely running at speeds and quality settings that the GPU in the Macbook would not have been able to.

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MSI mentioned they were hopeful the price would be in the $150 range which is actually quite a good surprise considering they are going to be including the Thunderbolt cable in the box - an accessory that is notoriously expensive today. 

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All that is holding up the GUS II from release at this point is compatibility and driver support from AMD and NVIDIA.  Because you are essentially adding in another PCI Express graphics card to system that might only have been prepared and QA'd for a single one, there are some issues to work out.  Even with the hardware in a basically complete state, there is no time table for release though hopefully we can get this pushed into the mainstream soon.

Thunderbolt might finally bring us the dockable and upgradeable graphics we have always envisioned for notebooks.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2012 Day 1 Podcast - 1/8/2012

Subject: Editorial | January 8, 2012 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, CES, Intel, amd, nvidia, ocz, ssd, thunderbolt, hdd, Lenovo, laptop, ultrabook

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 1 - 1/8/2012

Join us tonight as we talk about our first day of CES 2012 - including Storage Visions, CES Unveiled 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, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source:

CES 2012: OCZ Shows Lightfoot, Thunderbolt External SATA Drive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2012 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, ssd, ocz, lightfoot, CES

Today at the Storage Visions conference before the start of CES 2012, OCZ was on hand to show off a few new items they have planned for the year.  First up is the Lightfoot, a successor to the OCZ Enyo external USB 3.0 SSD that we reviewed and really enjoyed our time with. 

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As you can see it looks quite a bit bigger than the original Enyo and that is on account of the increased storage capacity.  You can expect to see sizes as high as 1TB and it will also be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.  

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Here is the Thunderbolt connector that many a Mac user and, hopefully soon, PC users will be able to take advantage of for improved throughput with transfer rates as high as 750 MB/s quoted by OCZ. 

OCZ claims that the one of the benefits of moving to the Thunderbolt interconnect is improved latency and highly accurate time synchronization that will allow for professional audio and video work to be done directly on the drive.  We are pretty eager to see if this is the case...

The time frame for this device is still unknown but we'll see if we can get more information this week by asking the right people. 

UPDATE: OCZ is telling us that Lightfoot will cost about $2/GB, so that 1TB model will run around $2000.  For those a bit more frugal, you can get the 128GB option for something like $250.  

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

April Thunderbolts. Do they bring May flowers?

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2011 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt

A little standard known as Thunderbolt has made its way around the industry for its high bandwidths and promise of transporting data optically rather than electrically. Intel, the creator, eventually needed to drop optical communication from the spec with a return loosely planned but firmly believed. For the last year, Apple was the only source for Thunderbolt-capable computers; starting in April, several PC manufacturers are expected to participate in adopting Intel’s technology.

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Apple blossoms

Intel weighed in on the adoption of the standard in a statement to their partners.

To speed up the standardization of Thunderbolt, Intel is cooperating with Apple and Apple is the sole vendor currently to have PC products featuring Thunderbolt technology. As demand for the technology has seen obvious growth, Intel is ready to release the technology for public use.

While I am not too fond of the more proprietary platforms, several technologies await better external busses: high-speed storage and dockable processing accelerators such as external video cards are two very good examples. We will also at some point need to break free from electron transistor-based computing methods; optical integrated circuits based on photonic crystals appear to be a logical albeit distant next step. Advancements in optical bus technology for Thunderbolt, now, would be applicable for the advancement of that technology when it becomes ready, much later.

What would you do with a faster external bus? The crazier the prediction, the better.

Source: Digitimes

Magma Unveils the First Three-Slot Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2011 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, magma

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Magma introduces ExpressBox 3T, an expansion chassis with three PCIe slots and a lightning fast connection through Thunderbolt. Magma’s ExpressBox 3T provides an easy, rock solid migration path to newer and faster computers while protecting the customers’ investment in specialized PCI Express peripherals made for video capture and edit, broadcast video, pro audio, communications, data acquisition and more.

ExpressBox 3T provides an 'outside-the-box' solution for using PCIe® cards with Thunderbolt-equipped computers. High-performance flows are possible by connecting a Thunderbolt equipped computer to a Magma ExpressBox 3T containing PCIe cards such as video capture, media transcoding, audio processing, and fast data storage. And because Thunderbolt is also based on DisplayPort technology, you can daisy chain a high-resolution display with your Magma ExpressBox 3T.

Source: Magma