Feeds

Intel throws Thunderbolt

USB 3.0 smackdown!

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Now we know why Intel was dragging its feet with USB 3.0 support - it's got its own competing interconnect that's twice as fast in Thunderbolt (formerly known as Light Peak).

Thunderbolt is a 10Gbit/s, bi-directional, dual channel, copper link containing an Intel controller chip and supporting two protocols: DisplayPort and PCIe. Intel says a high-definition movie can be transferred across it in less than 30 seconds (neglecting to tell us the size of the file).

Thunderbolt controller chip

Thunderbolt controller chip (Intel photo).

Six peripherals can be daisy-chained onto it and, like USB, power can be supplied to connected peripherals: up to 10W.

It was designed as an optical interconnect - that's what "Light" Peak meant - but copper has proved to be more practical for now. It is basically a serial bus, a single cable with both PCIe data transfer protocol into a host's memory or PCIe-connected peripherals, and DisplayPort for displays that can have greater than 1080p resolution and up to eight audio channels.

This side of Thunderbolt is compatible with existing DisplayPort displays and adapters, so Apple will be pleased. Bob Mansfield, the Mac hardware engineering SVP, said: "With ultra-fast transfer speeds, support for high-resolution displays and compatibility with existing I/O technologies, Thunderbolt is a breakthrough for the entire industry and we think developers are going to have a blast with it."

FireWire is going to be blasted away, that's for sure. Apple is so pleased it has adopted Thunderbolt for its new MacBook Pro. We can forget eSATA as well. If it is cheap enough then we can kiss USB 3.0 goodbye too.

Thunderbolt can be, Intel's release claims, the only connector needed for ultra-thin laptops. It says Thunderbolt is "complementary to other I/O technologies that Intel continues to support," meaning, we guess, USB. Yeah, complementary like a cannibal is to a vegetarian. Does Intel take us for fools?

If Thunderbolt spreads into the Windows PC market and (whisper it) tablets, then Intel stands to make billions of the controller chips needed. The revenue implications for an Intel chip-only interconnect in that case are wonderful - for Chipzilla. It gets a stranglehold on PC and Mac interconnects like it has a stranglehold on laptop, desktop and commodity servers processors.

Is that likely? Initial Thunderbolt adoptees include Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, LaCie, Promise and Western Digital. The last three make storage for both Macs and X86 notebooks, desktops and servers. Do you need a weatherman to see which way Intel wants the wind to be blowing? ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
NOKIA - Not FINNished yet! BEHOLD the somewhat DULL MYSTERY DEVICE!
N1 mini-'slab to plop into crowded pond next year
The Nokia ENIGMA THING and its SECRET, TERRIBLE purpose
Finnish firm coyly exposes mystery product – and WE NO what it is
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'
Sugarcoating Android's Lollipop makes tab easier to swallow
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.