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Next-Gen Thunderbolt: Twice as Fast, But a Different Connector

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the bring-on-the-4k dept.

Intel 178

Details have leaked about the next iteration of Intel's Thunderbolt connector. The good news: bandwidth will double, going up to about 40Gbps from its current 20. Power usage will drop by half, and it'll support PCI-e 3.0. The bad news: it uses a redesigned connector, and will rely on adapters for backward compatibility. From the article: "Doubling the available bandwidth will enable next-generation Thunderbolt controllers to drive two 4K displays simultaneously, where current controllers can only drive one. The new controllers will allegedly be compatible with a variety of other protocols as well, including DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0, and HDMI 2.0. Intel will offer two different versions of the controller—a version that uses four PCI Express lanes to drive two Thunderbolt ports and an "LP" (presumably "Low Power") version that uses two PCI Express lanes to drive one port."

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178 comments

Yes, but is it IBM compatible? (0)

Spock2001 (3621531) | about 2 months ago | (#46818417)

Whaddya mean it's not the 80's anymore?

Dongle (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 2 months ago | (#46818445)

I read you can use a simple dongle for backward comparability, so it doesn't seem too bad.

Re:Dongle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818577)

Yes, because there's nothing like paying $2000 for a laptop that only weighs 2 lbs, except you have to carry 15lbs worth of adapters around with you.

Re:Dongle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820471)

I believe the adapter will weigh much less than 15lbs.

New connector great thanks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818451)

Why is it everything apple embraces early ends up being a constantly changing connector

Re:New connector great thanks (5, Insightful)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | about 2 months ago | (#46818519)

Why is it everything apple embraces early ends up being a constantly changing connector

Because they can sell new ones at 60$ a piece and pocket the 55+$ in profit every year or so, putting in code that tells if it is "genuine Apple" [macrumors.com] or not?

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818571)

Why is it everything apple embraces early ends up being a constantly changing connector

Because they're not averse to giving backward compatibility the finger. I'm not saying it's good or bad and naturally there's always the exception (USB) that proves the rule. I say proves, but your assertion was pretty dubious in the first place... almost as if you saw an opportunity to complain about Apple just to provoke a reaction, some might say.

Re:New connector great thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819911)

i believe his post is suggesting that apple uses its substantial influence to cause these changes in standards so they can sell more insanely huge margin items, rather than the standards be developed to be as efficient and useful as possible.

Re:New connector great thanks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818585)

1) Power and data do not belong on the same connector or cable.
2) Extra pins cost more up front, but make backward compatibility less of a pain down the road.

The list of interconnection technologies that have failed on these two points is large, especially in Apple-land. Firewire and (now) Thunderbolt are the obvious ones, but there are others. SCSI was a virtually non-stop clusterfuck of pin-out changes for the better part of two decades.

Even as shitty and useless as it started out, USB has put all of these to shame.

Then again, Ethernet had its growing pains too. Anyone remember thicknet taps? An office full of those looked like a bunch of rats gnawing on a giant turd.

Re:New connector great thanks (3, Informative)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 3 months ago | (#46820129)

The funny thing is that all of those were objectively better in performance than what PCs were using, with the (possible) exception of USB. Apple never went for the cheap option just for the sake of being cheap, but the rest of the industry never followed whole-heartedly, so Apple ended up with tech that died, except for niches.

USB is the one that Apple dove into and somehow (probably because of the promise of cheap peripherals) got PC makers to go along. The charge was led by Apple.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 months ago | (#46820819)

Yes, USB is the bastion of stability with only 6 different plug types.

So, since '95, when USB 1.0 first was introduced, they've come up with 6 different plugs.

For comparison, Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, and since then, there have been 3 plugs for it.
The first was a standard Firewire 400 plug.
The second, a 30 pin plug
The third, the lightning connector.

Clearly, Apple is just going crazy changing the connector all the time.

Firewire: 3 connectors [4 and 6 pin for FW 400, 9 pin for FW 800].

Crazy.

And I guess you reject USB as well for providing power. Especially those crazy portable DVD writers, which come with dual-USB plugs, just so they can suck enough power to work.

Re:New connector great thanks (5, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 months ago | (#46818599)

At least it sounds like they have an actual reason this time. They didn't used to bother explaining it. It was just

Apple: Here's your new phone, and you'll want to buy a new cord too.
Customer: Oh no thanks, I have the old one.
Apple: That one won't work anymore, the new one is $40!
Customer: Wait, why won't it work? It's exactly the same.
Apple: It's incompatible with the new phone.
Customer: It IS compatible! See, I can plug it in!.. and it's telling me it's not compatible?
Apple: Yes, because it's incompatible.
Customer: Why is it incompatible!?! It fits and carries electricity still!
Apple: Because when you plug it in, the phone tells you it's incompatible and stops itself from charging... duh...
Customer: This seems like you artificially made the phone incompatible with old cords just to nickle and dime me for new accessories!
Apple: No sir, it costs forty dollars, not fifteen cents.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818769)

Who the hell mods this stuff up? The Apple 30 pin connector was around for NINE YEARS! Old cables worked with the brand new iPhone 4S. No problem. Phones and devices got smaller, and technology had improved beyond needing 30 pins, so they came out with an additional connector (Lightning). The cables were $20 at launch, not $40, and cheaper ones can be found now.

If every iPhone had a different charger, the above comment would be fine, but using 2 chargers over the life of a product isn't bad.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818939)

GP was probably referring to the chargers changing between iPod, iPhone and iPad. Same 30 pin cable but the iPhone and iPad would refuse to charge off of older iPod chargers. "Charging is not supported with this accessory". Especially problematic with 3rd party chargers.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 months ago | (#46819397)

The iPad in particular wants more amperage than older standard iPod/iPhone chargers can supply; it's part of having a larger, more power-hungry screen. It'd be better if all their chargers were identically specced, though.

Re:New connector great thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819481)

But it does actually charge! It trickle charges. I've done it many times.
It just takes much longer. I have lots of times seen 'not charging' when it in fact is charging.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 3 months ago | (#46819775)

Yeah but it should still charge, albeit more slowly. That's a reasonable person's expectations for backwards compatability.

The new iPad air flat out refuses to charge on anything other than a 12W supply with the correct signalling voltages.

Re:New connector great thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819953)

This is actually wrong.

The posted is talking about the firewire based chargers.

I can only assume to save costs; the iPhone and iPad were no longer including the hardware to charge via whatever voltage was output by the firewire charger.

They would not charge via chargers based around firewire. (30 pin ->firewire -> wall-wart power pack)

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

pipedwho (1174327) | about 3 months ago | (#46819461)

And of course the charger had to change as those new devices which much bigger batteries needed a much gruntier supply to charge them in a reasonable amount of time. At least Apple's chargers are backwards compatible, so you can charge all your old devices with the latest charger as long as you keep your old cables.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 3 months ago | (#46819933)

or perhaps its not a comment on the iphone, perhaps it refers to SCSI, firewire, ADB, the various charge connectors for laptops over the years.

so yes apple used 1 connector for 9years , however its not a 'standard that apple embraced' its a proprietary connector they created.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 months ago | (#46818819)

Well I would think that looking at where the connector was and seeing that it was taking up a lot of space that could have been used for other things like bigger speakers. I mean it doesn't take a genius to see the comparison. [wired.co.uk] Also yes whatever you get from Apple: memory, HDs, cables, etc will be cheaper than you can get elsewhere and in the beginning only Apple was going to have the cables. You can get them at places like monoprice now for much cheaper.

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 months ago | (#46818857)

Just to offer a factual counterpoint to this rather common narrative, the old 30-pin connector was around from the third-gen iPod in 2003 to the iPhone 4S, which was on sale until last year. Various websites offer third-party 30-pin cables for under $2 shipped, and the old ones continued to work right up until the connector was retired last year, when the iPhones 4S ceased being on sale.

The Lightning connector, which replaced it, can be purchased from Amazon and Monoprice for (as you'd expect) a fraction of what Apple charges, and the only Lightning cables that have stopped working are unlicensed ones. The reason that matters is because there have been cases of a few people in China being electrocuted to death by faulty, knock-off chargers and cables. Apple implemented the firmware restrictions on knock-off cables shortly thereafter.

Given that that's the sole connector change in their handheld devices during that time and that all of the cables--aside from some potentially dangerous knock-off ones--have remained functional the entire time, I think it should be obvious that they're not being unreasonable in how often they change out the connector.

Re:New connector great thanks (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46819017)

There was a time when I bought cheap third party power adapters for laptops on Amazon. I had several go bad, but they were so much cheaper than official adapters I kept buying them. One day, an adapter caught on fire and had it not been noticed, it could have burned my SO's house down. I will NEVER buy an unofficial adapter or any powered adapter from Amazon again(I believe even "official" adapters can actually be counterfeit so I will only trust the OEM). I have since read stories where people lost family due to non-official cell phone chargers catching fire.

For anyone reading this - spend the extra money. ..

Re:New connector great thanks (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#46818875)

It's not funny, they did almost the exact same thing when overnight everything stopped charging via the firewire pins on the dock connector, leaving most docks unable to charge iStuff without adapters.

In other news (4, Interesting)

ADRA (37398) | about 2 months ago | (#46818509)

The 10 people affected by this bus imrovement went out to celebrate but were hit by a car going twice the speed limit.. Oh the humanity!

Seriously though, I like to consider my needs a non-professional leading on the bleeding edge (2x 2560x1440's) But I don't even own a thunderbolt port, and unless some amazing peripherals come along to change my use case, I don't see that changing soon.

All I want is:
      1. standard bus standard which can drive anything
      2. said connector/cabling comes in 3 sizes from really really tiny cell phone variety to honking large clicking in connector that can't break
      3. That is future expandible to whatever for the next 10 years minimum
      4. No IP which prevents competition in said space except for standards bodies who's potfolios are both fair and unbiased in licensing terms
      Addendum I. Monster cables is specifically banned from ever producing said cables for ever
Nice to have's
      5. Fibre option
      6. Broadcast based networking support
      7. Bus QOS control
      8. Standard descriptive naming (NO BS marketing names like super-speed, hyper-active speed, high definition bandwidth, etc. )
      9. Support host wake/power-on
    10. Support at least bi-directional communications so I can plug in Bluetooth/IR/Wifi/etc.. message receivers and have if not chipset, at least OS support for pluggable and routable support for input methods without BS proprietary support all over the place

Re:In other news (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 months ago | (#46818579)

11. Make breakfast automatically in the morning

Re:In other news (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46818663)

Hey, it's 2014 and USB 1.0 was standardized 19 years ago, this tech ought to be good by now. That said USB3 is pretty good. The only thing I connect via Thunderbolt on my Macbook is the external display, and I'm not even clear on whether that's actually Thunderbolt, or just a faux Thunderbolt DisplayPort connector.

Re:In other news (3, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 months ago | (#46818593)

All I want is: (snip)

So... USB?

Re:In other news (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 months ago | (#46818647)

Addendum I. Monster cables is specifically banned from ever producing said cables for ever

Where do I sign up?!

Also, while you're asking for things, might want to ask for a decent plug shape too.

Re:In other news (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 2 months ago | (#46818835)

The 10 people affected by this bus imrovement went out to celebrate but were hit by a car going twice the speed limit.. Oh the humanity!

Seriously though, I like to consider my needs a non-professional leading on the bleeding edge (2x 2560x1440's) But I don't even own a thunderbolt port, and unless some amazing peripherals come along to change my use case, I don't see that changing soon.

All I want is:

      1. standard bus standard which can drive anything

      2. said connector/cabling comes in 3 sizes from really really tiny cell phone variety to honking large clicking in connector that can't break

      3. That is future expandible to whatever for the next 10 years minimum

      4. No IP which prevents competition in said space except for standards bodies who's potfolios are both fair and unbiased in licensing terms

      Addendum I. Monster cables is specifically banned from ever producing said cables for ever
Nice to have's

      5. Fibre option

      6. Broadcast based networking support

      7. Bus QOS control

      8. Standard descriptive naming (NO BS marketing names like super-speed, hyper-active speed, high definition bandwidth, etc. )

      9. Support host wake/power-on

    10. Support at least bi-directional communications so I can plug in Bluetooth/IR/Wifi/etc.. message receivers and have if not chipset, at least OS support for pluggable and routable support for input methods without BS proprietary support all over the place

Thunderbolt supports 7 or 8 of these bullet points. Which is pretty good, if I may say so. So I'm not sure what your problem is with Thunderbolt, besides the big one of the Thunderbolt standard being enforced by Intel.

Thunderbolt is just PCIe, so it can drive anything. That makes it future expendable. As far as I know, monster doesn't make cables. There is a fibre option. It has network support, including at least on my Mac, broadcast based networking. It supports host wake/power-on. And it's bidirectional obviously, being PCIe (so it can implement all those receivers you don't have a chipset), and it supports plug ability. At work I have a USB/Firewire bus I can hot plug over Thunderbolt.

Re:In other news (1)

narcc (412956) | about 3 months ago | (#46820115)

So I'm not sure what your problem is with Thunderbolt

Read the headline.

I almost feel bad for those early adopters.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46819035)

1. Nice idea, but a lot more complex than you think. USB includes a LOT of pre-defined standards within itself (Like HID) and was decades in the making. I remember reading about USB when M68K Macs were state of the art. You can make a fast port but hammering out the communications standards and software stacks is tough. Nobody wants to use a fast port when devices don't talk to each other out of the box.

2. Thunderbolt multiplexes PCI Express and Displayport over a single cable. This isn't really useful for any current phones or tablets, but I hope they don't follow after MicroUSB when they do. Breaks way too easy.

3. Granted. It better. It took more than 10 years to develop in the first place.

4. Given. I don't fault any party, however, requiring certification for cables. Multi-gigabit speeds require serious signaling voodoo that take you out of the realm of simple bits of wire with connectors crimped on either end. Thunderbolt cables have transceiver chips either connector that tune themselves to the electrical characteristics of THAT PARTICULAR CABLE. Yes. It's that sensitive.

5. Nice, but unlikely. Fiber connectors are delicate and prone to dirt/dust contamination. High speed optical transceivers are VERY expensive and aren't getting cheaper any time soon. Originally Intel was experimenting with tech that would bring the price of these down by baking them right in to silicon chips. This was the original idea behind thunderbolt. It did not work out. This why we currently have copper thunderbolt cables.

6. Thunderbolt is not a networking standard. Feel free to create and implement a software standard that runs over thunderbolt. Have fun writing example code for OSX, Windows, and submitting kernel patches for Linux.. And competing with apple's existing implementation.

7. Considering neither PCI Express nor Displayport are buses (They are both point to point), I'm not sure how one goes about implementing arbitration on Thunderbolt. There must be something there already, though, since you can chain thunderbolt devices.

8. Every tried telling Marketers not to market? Good luck with that.

9. This seems out of the intended scope for Thunderbolt.

10. In theory this is already done. You can attach any existing controller that supports PCI express. There are Apple thunderbolt monitors that actually do this. They have a PCI express USB controller that in turn drives USB ports and a USB based webcam. (There's an Ethernet controller in the thing to? I don't remember) Point is, you don't need to re-implement anything because you've got an extension of an industry standard interconnect, PCI Express)

The new connector PROVIDES POWER! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818511)

That means a single cable to hook up your laptop and drive devices, video and receive power. Finally.

Just great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818529)

Now all 2 mfr of thunderbolt products will have to retool for the next useless plug. I hope the iCable is only available from the Mac store for $299 for the 3" version. If you actually want a length long enough to connect to your monitor, well, that doesn't exist.

Intentional sabotage? (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 months ago | (#46818531)

Is Intel *TRYING* to kill off Thunderbolt? They can't make up their mind if they want USB 3.X or Thunderbolt to be their next-gen connection, and now (despite extremely low Thunderbolt adoption), they're going to change the connector?

USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt are redundant. At this point, they even both support uncompressed video. Pick one, drop (or deprecate) support for the other, and the industry will migrate.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 2 months ago | (#46818557)

They're pushing a new connector for USB too.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818569)

>Is Intel *TRYING* to kill off Thunderbolt?
You're closer to the truth than you might think. No one *likes* thunderbolt.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818583)

Pick USB. At least I can still use it for my old shit.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 months ago | (#46818587)

I guess they thought it would be really handy for a single connector to provide 100W of power as well as enough bandwidth for pretty much everything you could attach to a laptop.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#46818731)

So you can stream 5 porn videos AND power your space heater at the same time?

Re:Intentional sabotage? (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 2 months ago | (#46818825)

The goal is to enable people to use their laptops to charge their laptops.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46819807)

Or so that my thunderbolt display only requires one cable for power to the laptop and driving the display.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 months ago | (#46818885)

or like... 5 porn videos on two 4k screens and charge your laptop while you fap.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 months ago | (#46818601)

Maybe their goal is changing the connector before it gets more adoption?

As for USB 3.1, didn't I heard about a new, non-backward-compatible reversible connector a hwile back?

Re:Intentional sabotage? (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 months ago | (#46818635)

USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt are redundant. At this point, they even both support uncompressed video. Pick one, drop (or deprecate) support for the other, and the industry will migrate.

No they are not. They overlap in functionality but they are not the same. If you want to transfer files sometimes from one medium to another, both can accomplish the task. However if you want low latency, low overhead data transfers (like real-time HD video edits on a NAS device), you want Thunderbolt. Also you can run USB, Ethernet, and video over TB and not the other way around. Even for all of their updates to the spec, USB 3.1 still has large overhead [wikipedia.org] : "Though, some initial tests demonstrated usable transfer speeds of only 7.2 Gbit/s, leading to a 30% encoding overhead". Yes it does support uncompressed video but how well it does so far does not seem as though it is as good as TB.

For most consumers, USB 3.1 will be fine for most applications. For professionals, they are likely to get TB devices for their needs.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 2 months ago | (#46819023)

No, I would use 10/40/100 (Depending on how fast I really need it) gigabit ethernet.

It seems like people can't find a good reason to use Thunderbolt. Yes you can connect a monitor, but I already have hdmi and dvi, so no need to make an new standard for that. And for anything else, either ethernet or usb is the thing to use.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 months ago | (#46819291)

However it's also one connector for both video and ethernet, plus other stuff. Why reserve wasted space for ethernet when most of the macbook users are wifi only in a coffee shop? Keeps the laptops thin and fashionable as the expense of an assortment of adapters (which is also revenue to Apple).

Re:Intentional sabotage? (4, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46819823)

I plugin 2 cables to dock my laptop. One power, one Thunderbolt.

The result is that when I plugin those two cables, my laptop suddenly sees 3 SSDs (the work at full speed), the Apple Thunderbolt monitor, 3 USB3 ports, external audio, and 2 additional monitors via display port, and a gigabit ethernet connection.

1 connection via thunderbolt hooks up literally 9 devices, and I've not used it yet but it also hooks up to a PCIe enclosure.

This allows my laptop to be pretty sparse on ports and light when I'm on the move, but full of devices when its sitting on my desk at home or the office.

And the thunderbolt connection blows the shitty USB protocol away, even for USB3 ... and I'm using TB1, not 2.

Thunderbolt is external PCIe. Don't knock it until you realize how useful it can be.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820823)

with all that you could have just plugged in a docking station, had significantly more bandwidth, ports and features without the limitations imposed by thunderbolt. thunderbolt is really a solution looking for a problem and I have yet to see a good problem it solves that could not be solved better in some other way.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 months ago | (#46818639)

I'm not sure USB and Thunderbolt are redundant. They may occupy different spaces, but Intel/Apple have not done a good job making the distinction clear with their marketing.

For example, I believe that you can have a USB hub, but the Thunderbolt design pushes you in the direction of daisy-chaining. Thunderbolt is treated as an extension of the bus, providing very fast two-way communication, while USB is much more limited. The end result is that USB is more fit for simple peripherals-- e.g. mice, keyboards, external hard drives. Thunderbolt seems better suited for devices that you would otherwise want to be internal, e.g. docking stations, high-end RAID, external video cards.

I'm not sure there's anything that USB does that Thunderbolt can't do, but it seems that you can produce simpler/cheaper peripherals with USB. Meanwhile, there are things that you can do with Thunderbolt and not with USB.

Thunderbolt does USB, so no. (Also PCIe and HDMI) (3, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 months ago | (#46819007)

> I'm not sure there's anything that USB does that Thunderbolt can't do

Thunderbolt does PCIe and USB, so there is nothing USB can do that Thunderbolt can't. If there were, Thunderbolt would do it via USB.
Thunderbolt is basically PCIe + USB + HDMI + power, all on the same cable.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

ffkom (3519199) | about 2 months ago | (#46818673)

Maybe it's another attempt to separate markets for "cheap" and "pricy" cabling. Just convince some less price-sensitve people that you belong to some kind of "elite" if they buy your more expensive product, and enjoy a small but profitable market niche, where nobody asks what the actual advantage of your product is.

Already worked well for other cabling standards...

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 months ago | (#46818685)

USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt are not mutually exclusive.

Thunderbolt is lower level. If I want low latency high quality audio card, I'm not plugging it into USB. If I want a mouse or a thumb drive, i'm not plugging it into Thunderbolt.

They're two different use cases.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46819541)

And yet they're adding support for running USB 3.0 over Thunderbolt with the new standard; this new standard was the perfect opportunity to unify the two standards, but they stopped short of supporting the latest version of USB or using a compatible connector.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46819831)

... I already have USB3 running over thunderbolt 1. You just hook a USB3 host controller up to the PCIe bus ... which is what Thunderbolt provides.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46820349)

That's not native. The new version of Thunderbolt does it natively.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 3 months ago | (#46819921)

You can run USB over thunderbolt, but not the other way around.

Thunderbolt is a lot lower level, if we where talking network stacks, they'd be different OSI layers, although thats not particularly fidelious (since both are ALSO hardware specs too).

I run studio gear thats often driving up to 40 channels of high fidelity audio to ADAT gear with very low latencies (10-15ms). The interface I use does have a USB interface and the latency is just unuseable.

My thinking here is that thunderbolt is designed to replace firewire rather than USB, as a pro-sumer buss rather than a handy-dandy consumer friendly connector.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46820371)

There are low-latency USB audio interfaces that do better than 10-15ms, and it has more than enough throughput for 40 audio channels, although obviously the latency is still not as low as a PCIe device over thunderbolt can go.

While I agree that thunderbolt is primarily being adopted by the professional or pro-sumer market (the only thunderbolt devices that I've ever used apart from some of Apple's very affordable gigabit ethernet adapter is pro video gear), I think that's primarily because Intel is charging too much for the controllers going into the cables and devices.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 3 months ago | (#46820077)

Adding? It's already there. It's PCI express lanes exposed to the world. Belkin sells a doodad that has usb 3.0 and other goodies in a thunderbolt breakout box.

Interoperability between thunderbolt and usb was the plan, actually. Until the USB IF nixed that plan. Apple saved the day with mini display port, which is free because VESA demands it to be so.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46820357)

Belkin's "doodad" costs $200, which is insanely expensive if you want a USB 3 adapter.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 3 months ago | (#46820423)

Could be worse. You could be using the more expensive Matrox 'doodad' which is like the Belkin one but doesn't have a chaining port.
"Oh, you wanted to be able to connect in another device... that's too bad"

Not completely redundant (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 months ago | (#46818725)

The thing is USB doesn't have DMA. This is on purpose, it allows for cheaper devices and is more secure. However it means everything has to go through the CPU. So higher load, higher latency. Thunderbolt is just PCIe (and display) so it is as low latency and impact as a card in the system.

For lots of usages, the difference doesn't matter, but for heavy hitting stuff it can.

Re:Not completely redundant (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 2 months ago | (#46819165)

As was IDE vs. SCSI and FireWire vs. USB and now Thunderbolt vs. USB3. In the end, the professionals and geeks are always going to want the best and know what they need to work efficiently, home users will always get sold the cheapest and worst option (and they won't even know).

Re:Not completely redundant (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46819349)

USB works mostly because it assumes you've got a high power CPU on one end that (ie, a 90s era PC or better) and a user that doesn't mind latency and is focused on everything being low cost. The PHY layer is pretty decent though. Using USB on embedded devices can be a headache though, especially with the badly designed Intel host controller chips that share your bus (I think they assumed it would only be on a PC with a separate front end bus).

The latency is killer for a lot of things. People don't think about it much because it seems to work, but under the hood it's a bit like token ring networking with every device on the bus being polled on a schedule. It's good for sending lots of data in one direction at a time but not for bidirectional communication streams.

Re:Not completely redundant (2)

dabadab (126782) | about 3 months ago | (#46820737)

The thing is USB doesn't have DMA.

It DOES have DMA since USB3.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 months ago | (#46819281)

This is Apple, that means every new macbook needs to have a new set of incompatible connectors. Otherwise no one spends the money to buy the new adapters.

As for USB, it's a stupid standard really, even 3.x. They really should have revamped it for USB 2.0 since all the original design goals were being tossed away. It's just that PCs standardized on USB and so it is the one that stuck (same way ide stuck instead of scsi). It does most of what people want which is to plug in a keyboard/mouse or a fast external storage, and as long as it works people don't care that it's implemented in an inefficient way that won't handle things like real time video or low latency responses. Granted, for typical Mac uses a thunderbolt is overkill (but then so is USB 3.1).

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46819441)

What does Apple have to do with it? Intel manages Thunderbolt, not Apple.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#46819795)

Apple could keep the old connector if it wanted to.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46820343)

Not unless they want to be stuck on the current version of Thunderbolt.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819465)

It's just that PCs standardized on USB and so it is the one that stuck (same way ide stuck instead of scsi).

Hands up anyone who can tell me which mass market computer first came with USB as standard.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#46819871)

Base thunderbolt is faster than USB3. TB2 is twice that, same connector. The problem is lack of power.

TB3 is 4 times as fast as TB1 (so over 4 times as fast as USB3) and finally provides some power.

The connector change is to add power, which wasn't part of the original design because the original design was fiber based, TB over copper was created to bring the cost down, but they still didn't add a power (other than to power the cable transceiver) supply ... that was kind of ... stupid.

They are fixing an initial stupid mistake with the new connector.

Re:Intentional sabotage? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#46820353)

TB2 has the same aggregate throughput of TB1, it just combines the existing channels. That's great if you're only connecting one device, but not so great if you're daisy chaining. TB1/2 don't lack power, they supply 10 watts, far more than the cable itself requires. That's already double what USB provides over data connections, and you shouldn't be drawing much more than that from a notebook anyhow. The vast majority of systems sold with TB support today are notebooks (mainly because the vast majority are Macs, which are overwhelmingly notebooks).

copying the apple incompatibility model? (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 months ago | (#46818567)

The adoption rate has been lukewarm at best and yet they come up with a replacement that is incompatible with the existing version and still incredibly expensive. Way to kill before it is even born intel. Hint if you want to copy apple lock in money grabbing model you first must make the product a success before squeezing the punters balls for more juice.

So, not optical? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46818591)

The article does not list "extended range" among the advantages, so I guess they are not switching over to the optical thunderbolt. Too bad, I think that would be a much bigger advantage than the 2x speedup (my MacBook already has 2 thunderbolt2 connectors). If optical thunderbolt ever catches on you could use it to attach multiple terminals to a computer, such as routing uncompressed low-latency video signals throughout your home. Last I checked, there still is not a good way to do this over gigabit ethernet.

Re:So, not optical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818671)

If optical thunderbolt ever catches on you could use it to attach multiple terminals to a computer, such as routing uncompressed low-latency video signals throughout your home. Last I checked, there still is not a good way to do this over gigabit ethernet.

You mean like using a terminal server [microsoft.com] and some thin clients [dell.com] ? Or do you mean using a digital signage [viewsonic.com] system?

These things are all available, and none of them use Thunderbolt, not even in its optical variety.

Re:So, not optical? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46818745)

No, terminal servers and thin clients are pretty useless on today's video-heavy applications.

Re:So, not optical? (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about 2 months ago | (#46818797)

Did you seriously just mention terminal server in reply to a post that had the words "uncompressed low latency video" in it?

Re:So, not optical? (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about 2 months ago | (#46818755)

You can buy optical cables for your current Thunderbolt connection. Here is a 33ft one: http://store.apple.com/us/prod... [apple.com]

Re:So, not optical? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46818785)

I'm just afraid those ridiculous prices won't come down until optical is the norm. $659 for a 30m cable? A 30m fiber network cable is $60.

Re:So, not optical? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46819271)

Whoah, I just googled it and Corning just (in the last week) released a USB3 optical converter/cable that's $109.99 for 10m. Maybe USB 3.1 will get us there - one connection to rule them all (even HDMI and ethernet).

Re:So, not optical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819543)

Optical transceivers capable of speeds needed for thunderbolt aren't cheap. And they won't be cheap anytime soon. Also consider that this particular application is fairly exotic and edge case, so volume will be pretty low.

Intel was developing tech to produce optical transceivers with traditional silicon fabrication technology. This was actually the original plan for thunderbolt.
It didn't work out. The tech never got anywhere near fast enough. That is why thunderbolt currently uses copper.

HDbaseT is the new-ish standard for LAN video (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 months ago | (#46819037)

> Last I checked, there still is not a good way to do this over gigabit ethernet.

HDbaseT is the standard for HDMI over CAT6. Several vendors support it, sometimes branding it with their own name.
As an alternative, boosted HDMI cables are good up to about 50 feet or so, depending on resolution.

Using boosted cabling, a 4X4 HDMI matrix will let you connect four sources to four receivers.
HDbaseT will connect (at least) one source to multiple displays. I'm not sure if HDbaseT works for multiple sources without a matrix box.

You can find matrices and HDbaseT for about $130 now. You'll also see roughly similar, older equipment being sold for $3,000. There's been a huge price drop, kind of like enterprise grade wide SCSI cards are still expensive, though consumer level SATA hardware outperforms it for 1/10th the price.

Re:HDbaseT is the new-ish standard for LAN video (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46819233)

That sounds interesting for piping TV throughout the home, but what about all the USB peripherals you need on a terminal? (Mouse, keyboard, USB connection for syncing your mp3 player, etc). I guess you could just solve the mouse/keyboard situation with a wireless peripherals if the range is sufficient, although bluetooth for one is not meant to work through walls.

Ah well, a thunderbolt dock is like $300 anyways, vs. $30 for a good USB3 hub. I think USB will beat out thunderbolt.

HDbaseT 2.0 includes USB. Cheaper terminals (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#46819415)

HDbaseT 1.0 included RS-232, which could be used for keyboard and mouse. HDbaseT 2.0 includes USB over the same cable.

However, if computer terminals are what you want, not top quality video, there are better options. Obviously there are things like VNC and RDP. I buy and sell Raritan IP KVMs, which I use in my datacenter. The KVMs give full control, from BIOS to GUI, over the internet. HDbaseT is targeted at entertainment video - lots of motion, and high quality video.

I've been studying the HDMI options intensely for just a few days for a project I'm working on - connecting a computer to two large TV sets 80 feet away at my church. (Plus another one 15' away).

Re:HDbaseT 2.0 includes USB. Cheaper terminals (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | about 3 months ago | (#46820283)

I have a 75' HDMI cable (bought for arround $45). Works great at 1080p. I tend to avoid converters when I can.

thanks for the data point. Boosted? Reliability. (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#46820341)

Thanks for that info. Do yyou know if that cable is boosted or unboosted cable? It can be hard to tell. For 75', it's probably boasted.

From my research, it seems that at that distance, some displays are sometimes able to sync with some sources, using some cables, in some environments. A different source, a different display, or new sources of interference may cause it to stop working. Sometimes it'll work for a while, then require restarting in a certain order. For my purpose, it needs to work every time, without me being there to suggest restarting things or deal with a dimmer that's causing interference.

Thunderbolt was never about speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818609)

It's about that big f*** gun what sticks out the front.

New connector - no problemo: TB cables are cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818611)

oh wait...

Thunderbolt: The TIFF of cables (3, Informative)

ffkom (3519199) | about 2 months ago | (#46818621)

Thunderbolt always reminds me of the TIFF "standard" for image files: Theoretically you can put anything in it, theoretically it supports every imaginable feature - but in practice, it's of little use - because there's almost no common denominator of what different implementations actually can deal with.

Plus, the idea of defining a "cabling" for the consumer market where every cable is on its own with regards to how it implements the physical layer is a very bad idea. It renders cables terribly expensive and you cannot be sure that the cable from vendor A will work well with the socket from vendor B.

Can we standardize on an optical cable already? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46818861)

A single mode fiber allows for Tbps, over significantly longer distances than any electrical high speed communication, and fits into a connector as tiny as you can make them. Add two copper wires for power and then leave it alone for at least a decade.

Re:Can we standardize on an optical cable already? (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#46819171)

A single mode fiber allows for Tbps, over significantly longer distances than any electrical high speed communication, and fits into a connector as tiny as you can make them. Add two copper wires for power and then leave it alone for at least a decade.

I think you just explained why this hasn't been done.

Even faster road to nowhere (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 months ago | (#46818867)

I think Intel has given up trying to compete directly with USB. Instead, they're pumping thunderbolt to be as fast as it can possibly go, for people who care more about performance than cost.

I can't think of any other reason why they'd be pushing performance so hard while prices are still so absurd that no consumer in their right mind would purchase them if there is a USB equivalent to be had.

EU? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46819143)

I thought the EU outlawed innovations like this. Wasn't everything supposed to have the same connector? RS-232, I think it was.

Yay! A new too-expensive-to-use connector! (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 3 months ago | (#46819379)

I, for one, am excited about this new super-fast connector for which all the peripherals will be too expensive to buy. I know that when firewire was being replaced by Thunderbolt, I was worried that they may do away with the chaining that means any hard drive case or breakout unit which doesn't have a pass-through becomes a dead end. Now, with this new Thunderbolt I can be comfortable in the knowledge that there will still be a whole array of amazing devices all of which are too expensive for me to possibly want to buy.

(Note: Thunderbolt is great for some people, but those people are probably the ones that have the company paying for the extra displays and drives)

External video card (1)

iceperson (582205) | about 3 months ago | (#46819557)

Any chance we'll see external video cards now?

I remember when... (1)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about 3 months ago | (#46819715)

eSata was....... nevermind.

All devices which require specific hardware controllers always become "specialist" products (firewire).
All devices which are cheap and utilize existing CPU cycles become "mainstream" products (usb).

If only they could make a separate, standardized hardware controller. I dunno, similar to Audio/Video which powers and processes the required area on a dedicated chip.
USB is close, but if we could replace the CPU load to a dedicated hardware controller, we'd be laughing.

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46819879)

Is this not just USB vs FireWire again?
Or com vs. parallell, ide vs scsi, etc?

Two types, one for personal and for profressional.
One is cheap, the other is fast

Old DisplayPort (1)

Buzer (809214) | about 3 months ago | (#46820589)

including DisplayPort 1.2

Why? 1.3 is supposed to be coming Q2 2014. It wouldn't hurt to wait a bit, would it (and the likely already have all the required details anyway)?

Hdmi vs Displayport vs Thunderbolt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820783)

Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand the whole mess.

Hdmi is supposed to be the connector that transfers audio and video to your TV, it has some additional features like ethernet over hdmi and other features.
Displayport is supposed to be the connector that transfters audio and video to your monitor, it has more bandwidth than hdmi, which I take to mean that it can support all the other hdmi features and more.
Thunderbolt is the one connector to rule them all: Displayport, usb, sata and pci-e can be done over it.

From this it seems that HDMI Displayport Thunderbolt. So why aren't all TVs nowadays running displayport and thunderbolt ports? Why are we stuck with HDMI?

I 3 Adapters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46820947)

Miso tink adapters da balls!

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