Feeds

Intel throws Thunderbolt

USB 3.0 smackdown!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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? ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.