Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2012 - 10:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt, falcon ridge, thunderbolt controller, displayport 1.2, optical cable, redwood ridge, haswell
Intel’s Thunderbolt technology came to the Windows PC side of the computer market in a big way with high end desktop motherboards and add-in cards. The current generation “Cactus Ridge” Thunderbolt controller is able to offer up to 10Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth with either two or four PCI Express lanes as well as a DisplayPort connection that does not interfere with file transfer bandwidth. In 2014, that bandwidth may double to 20Gbps with a new Falcon Ridge controller.
With current-gen tech, Thunderbolt is based on using copper cables and electronics on either end of the cable. Right now, the cables are still fairly expensive at $50, but with new vendors the prices will hopefully go down soon. Next year we should see the Cactus Ridge successor Redwood Ridge. According to DigiTimes, this Thunderbolt controller will add support for DisplayPort 1.2 but will otherwise be very similar with 10Gbps and copper cables. It is slated for a 2013 release, and a release coinciding with Intel’s Haswell processors and motherboards sounds logical.
Will Falcon Ridge finally give us optical-based Thunderbolt at retail?
In 2014 we will reportedly see the release of a fourth-generation Thunderbolt controller called Falcon Ridge that will offer up to 20Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth. While the cables will likely be even more expensive, I’m excited to see Thunderbolt progressing as it is a high performance transfer medium for professionals and enthusiasts. One thing that is not clear is whether Intel will be able to get DisplayPort + 20Gbps bi-directional bandwidth from copper cables. With Falcon Ridge we may well see the company finally make the move to optical cabling, which would return Thunderbolt to its initially-planned roots.
What would you do with the extra bandwidth provided by Falcon Ridge?
If you haven’t already, please check out our Thunderbolt coverage.
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2012 - 05:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt controller, thunderbolt, motherboards, Intel, computex
Anandtech stopped by the Intel booth at Computex 2012 to check out their Thunderbolt display. Intel has three upcoming controllers, with the smallest being only 5.6mm wide. The company is also showing off several motherboards and Thunderbolt peripherals at their booth.
Intel has started off their Computex 2012 showings but showing off several bits of Thunderbolt hardware. They displayed three Thunderbolt controllers in various sizes (and accompanying capabilities), Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards such as this Asus motherboard we were able to get a video demonstration of, Thunderbolt docks, and other Thunderbolt peripherals.
Anandtech was able to get some photos of Intel’s booth display. One of the cool shots that they managed to take shows off three of Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers. From left to right are the Light Ridge, Cactus Ridge, and Port Ridge controllers. While the Cactus Ridge controller is capable of being a host and supporting attached devices, the smaller Port Ridge controller can only connect to Thunderbolt peripherals and only supports a single Thunderbolt port–this chip will see use primarily in tablets and other mobile devices.
In addition to the controllers themselves, Anand spotted several motherboards on display that all sported Thunderbolt controllers. These boards are further aimed at running Windows powered PCs, which is an important consideration with Apple having a large lead on adoption of the technology. Among the motherboards on display are the ASRock Extreme6 and ASRock TB, ASUS P8Z77-V Premium (LINKAGE), a Foxconn board of unknown make, Intel DZ77RE-K75, Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH, Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH, and a MSI Z77A-GD80 (LINKAGE).
A Thunderbolt Equipped Motherboard: The MSI Z77A-GD80
It does seem like Computex 2012 is the year for an explosion of Thunderbolt devices. As Ryan mentioned on This Week In Computer Hardware, the cost of Thunderbolt devices and the cost of cables versus the “good enough” (and much cheaper) USB 3.0 technology is going to really hold Thunderbolt back from widespread adoption. There is no doubt that Thunderbolt has the potential to be very useful, but the market of people that could really use the technology to it’s fullest is relatively small. Expect Thunderbolt to stick around, at least for a while, but it will likely not rival that of USB 3.0 as far as integration with computers and user adoption. On the other hand, if they can get the cost of cables and related hardware down far enough such that the difference between it and USB 3.0 is not much it could take off...
What do you guys think of all the Thunderbolt technology coming out of Computex (and it’s only day 1!)?
Other Thunderbolt news:
- What is Thunderbolt?
- mLink PCI-E Thunderbolt enclosure shown off at NAB 2012
- External graphics with the MSI GUS II
- Thunderbolt discussion on the PC Perspective Podcast