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Intel promises 10Gb Ethernet with Thunderbolt 2.0

Interconnect to double as file-transfer medium

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Intel will expand its Thunderbolt high-speed interconnect platform with the addition of Ethernet networking support.

The company, presenting at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, said that the next version of the platform will not only support 20Gbps connections for peripherals, but will also support Ethernet traffic of up to 10Gbps.

The company said that the Ethernet functionality will use an emulated environment to act as a 10GbE port for data transfers between devices. Intel said that drivers enabling the functionality have already been released for OS X (Apple offers Thunderbolt 2 ports on its high-end Mac Pro and MacBook Pro models) and a driver for Windows is in the works.

The addition of Ethernet capabilities could help to further advance a Thunderbolt platform that has thus far been pitched as the interconnect for 4K graphics hardware and media peripherals that require high-speed data transfers. Additionally, the format has been pitched for high-speed RAID storage and backup appliances.

Storage vendors including LaCie, StarTech, and Western Digital have hopped on board with Intel, offering a range of new storage devices optimized for Thunderbolt 2 ahead of the NAB conference.

Intel is looking to build on that storage and transfer capability by adding the Ethernet support to Thunderbolt. The company noted that such connections could be used to transfer files between both OS X and Windows-based systems via a direct cable connection without the need for additional networking hardware or protocols. ®

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