Intel showcases 20Gbps-capable second-gen Thunderbolt technology

By on April 9, 2013, 7:00 AM

Intel unveiled the second generation of their speedy Thunderbolt connectivity technology during the National Association of Broadcasters conference yesterday. The next generation interface boasts data rates of 20Gbps in both directions which is double the speed of existing Thunderbolt applications.

Engadget was on hand for the big reveal where Intel first talked up the existing technology before showcasing the new stuff. The chip maker made sure to point out that Thunderbolt has nearly 200 licensees already and that more compatible devices are in the pipeline. What’s more, Intel said new, thinner cables should be available in the coming months.

The new Thunderbolt host controller, codenamed Redwood Ridge, will be built into select fourth generation Core processors. The revision enables 4K video file transfer and display at the same time and will be fully backwards-compatible with current generation cables and connectors – good news if you’ve already invested in the platform.

Thunderbolt technology came about courtesy of a collaboration between Apple and Intel in 2011. Support for the tech is currently available on nearly all of Apple’s computers except the Mac Pro tower and is slowly making its way into PCs as well.

Intel demonstrated the second generation tech for those in attendance, hitting 1,200Mbps transfers with ease. The hot-off-the-press silicon is faster than anything currently on the market, that’s for sure. But unforutunately it’ll still be a while before the general public will be able to realize these speeds. Intel said production is slated to ramp up in 2014.




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Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Just a thought, I wonder if motherboards would be better off using thunderbolt instead of Sata? just saying, if those are the speeds you an get both ways surely hard drives (specifically SSD's) would benefit from the speed boost?

Holyscrap said:

"Intel demonstrated the second generation tech for those in attendance, hitting 1,200Mbps transfers with ease. " I think there is a typo there. Maybe you meant to say 12,000Mbps(12Gbps) cause 1,200Mbps sounds slower than a snail compared to today's tech.

Holyscrap said:

Just a thought, I wonder if motherboards would be better off using thunderbolt instead of Sata? just saying, if those are the speeds you an get both ways surely hard drives (specifically SSD's) would benefit from the speed boost?

Sata can easily surpass Thunderbolt, it's just that hard drives and Blu-Ray players barely saturate it as is.

Thunderbolt has that much bandwidth to accommodate video streams (DisplayPort) and uses PCI-E interface for transfers. Thunderbolt's max bandwidth will always be lower than what sata CAN achieve due to limitations such as length(long cables=low bandwidth) power transfer plus the bandwidth allocation for displays.

But yes , Sata should upgrade its bandwidth

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Just a thought, I wonder if motherboards would be better off using thunderbolt instead of Sata? just saying, if those are the speeds you an get both ways surely hard drives (specifically SSD's) would benefit from the speed boost?

Sata can easily surpass Thunderbolt, it's just that hard drives and Blu-Ray players barely saturate it as is.

Thunderbolt has that much bandwidth to accommodate video streams (DisplayPort) and uses PCI-E interface for transfers. Thunderbolt's max bandwidth will always be lower than what sata CAN achieve due to limitations such as length(long cables=low bandwidth) power transfer plus the bandwidth allocation for displays.

But yes , Sata should upgrade its bandwidth

Good Point, I thought though that the reason current SSD's seem to hit a wall of 550Mbps is due to the Sata being completely saturated?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sata can easily surpass Thunderbolt, it's just that hard drives and Blu-Ray players barely saturate it as is.
How the hell is 20Gbps less bandwidth than 6Gbps?

Thunderbolt's max bandwidth will always be lower than what sata CAN achieve due to limitations such as length(long cables=low bandwidth) power transfer plus the bandwidth allocation for displays.
You do realize that Thunderbolt was originally meant to be fiber-optic. Fiber-optic because fiber-optic doesn't have these limitations you speak of. Therefor how could you say Thunderbolt will never have greater bandwidth than SATA, especially when it appears to be there already. This is not to mention the fact that Intel and Apple both came together in joint effort to use Thunderbolt(aka: Lightpeak at the time) as a replacement to all external cabling. A replacement that was advertised at the time to have 100Gbps.

Holyscrap said:

Sata can easily surpass Thunderbolt, it's just that hard drives and Blu-Ray players barely saturate it as is.
How the hell is 20Gbps less bandwidth than 6Gbps?

Thunderbolt's max bandwidth will always be lower than what sata CAN achieve due to limitations such as length(long cables=low bandwidth) power transfer plus the bandwidth allocation for displays.
You do realize that Thunderbolt was originally meant to be fiber-optic. Fiber-optic because fiber-optic doesn't have these limitations you speak of. Therefor how could you say Thunderbolt will never have greater bandwidth than SATA, especially when it appears to be there already. This is not to mention the fact that Intel and Apple both came together in joint effort to use Thunderbolt(aka: Lightpeak at the time) as a replacement to all external cabling. A replacement that was advertised at the time to have 100Gbps.

And Sata can switch to fiber and voila bigger bandwidth. I didn't say that Sata has more band, I said it can surpass Thunder due to Sata cables being short(lower cable loss) but there is no incentive to make Sata faster (consumers don't need the extra bandwidth, and those that do can opt for a PCI-E SSD)

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Intel said production is slated to ramp up in 2014.

I wouldn't use the word ramp up, which means increase, because Intel is going only to start production in 2014, which is unfortunate.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

And Sata can switch to fiber and voila bigger bandwidth. I didn't say that Sata has more band, I said it can surpass Thunder due to Sata cables being short(lower cable loss) but there is no incentive to make Sata faster (consumers don't need the extra bandwidth, and those that do can opt for a PCI-E SSD)
In other words you are suggesting that if Thunderbolt was used as a replacement for SATA the cable length would automatically be longer therefor making the bandwidth lower? I don't understand your stand point as an argument. If Thunderbolt was used as a replacement, the cable length would be the same and therefor no additional bandwidth loss due to limitations of copper wire.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Thunderbolt will possibly replace USB sometime.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Thunderbolt will possibly replace USB sometime.

Hard to know where to put your money on. First off, how much data throughput is needed to send 4K 3D 60fps video? I don't know if HDMI 2.0 will be sufficient, or DisplayPort 1.2. Very likely not.

In addition, what is the power profile of Thunderbolt connection versus USB?

1 person liked this | Holyscrap said:

Thunderbolt will possibly replace USB sometime.

Hard to know where to put your money on. First off, how much data throughput is needed to send 4K 3D 60fps video? I don't know if HDMI 2.0 will be sufficient, or DisplayPort 1.2. Very likely not.

In addition, what is the power profile of Thunderbolt connection versus USB?

HDMI1.4 has 10Gbps HDMI2 has 18, I think you would need close to 30Gbps for 4k3d/60fps.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

In addition, what is the power profile of Thunderbolt connection versus USB?
If Thunderbolt ever converts to fiber-optic, there will not be a power profile. Since fiber-optic was the original goal, I'm tempted to say that power profiles are irrelevant toward the goal of Thunderbolt.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

If Thunderbolt ever converts to fiber-optic, there will not be a power profile. Since fiber-optic was the original goal, I'm tempted to say that power profiles are irrelevant toward the goal of Thunderbolt.

That was my feeling also you can't replace an orange with potato

2 people like this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Ok, for the sake of an argument, I just researched it, and here's a good calculator for this: [link]

But that's for 8-bit color. If anybody wants to broadcast the full 10-bit color supported by new TV-s and monitors, it will be: [link]

That's about 15Gbit/s, in 2D mode. For 3D it takes twice as much traffic, so 30Gbit/s was a very close guess.

Which means that even the new Thunderbolt 20GBit/s isn't gonna cut it, and we are not going to see any good connection interface for quite some time.

I knew this all before, just didn't bother putting together the exact numbers. Now I'm even more confident in my choice of buying the new DELL U3014, and just stay away from all the 4K noise for at least one more year.

JC713 JC713 said:

Thunderbolt will possibly replace USB sometime.

I hope so too. It will be very hard to though since USB will always keep on improving and it is hard to replace all current USB devices with Thunderbolt. It is just too expensive to compete with cheap USB.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I hope so too. It will be very hard to though since USB will always keep on improving and it is hard to replace all current USB devices with Thunderbolt. It is just too expensive to compete with cheap USB.

Yeah but USB has been around for a very long time. If TB becomes de rigueur then everyone will adopt it and prices will come down accordingly. Although it seems USB has been around forever it won't always be so.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Ok, for the sake of an argument, I just researched it, and here's a good calculator for this: [link]

But that's for 8-bit color. If anybody wants to broadcast the full 10-bit color supported by new TV-s and monitors, it will be: [link]

That's about 15Gbit/s, in 2D mode. For 3D it takes twice as much traffic, so 30Gbit/s was a very close guess.

Which means that even the new Thunderbolt 20GBit/s isn't gonna cut it, and we are not going to see any good connection interface for quite some time.

I knew this all before, just didn't bother putting together the exact numbers. Now I'm even more confident in my choice of buying the new DELL U3014, and just stay away from all the 4K noise for at least one more year.

Good to someone doing their homework. Good advice.

JC713 JC713 said:

I wonder if this could get in the way of thinner laptops though. It is kind of larger than USB (flat vs tall).

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Meanwhile, Timewarner still rips me $105 a month for digital TV + HD channels w/ Turbo Internet @ 2.5Mbps. For $1250 annually would 5Mbps kill them? Rotten bastards.

JC713 JC713 said:

Meanwhile, Timewarner still rips me $105 a month for digital TV + HD channels w/ Turbo Internet @ 2.5Mbps. For $1250 annually would 5Mbps kill them? Rotten bastards.

Wow, I pay $79.99 per month (really $89.99 but with the $200 gift card Verizon gave me, it is basically like paying $79.99). That includes TV (HD channels included), phone (land line), and internet (15-20 download and 5 upload). You are getting ripped off man lol.

Guest said:

Ya really I pay 39.99 a month for 15 Mb DSL and 19.99 a month for directtv

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Just to go back to the issue of SATA v Thunderbolt...

The primary goal with SATA was not simply just "pump all the bandwidth you can". SATA had to keep latency as low as possible to make it viable for HDD/SSD use.

In fact latency is the main reason to choose SAS over SATA. Im not going to be delivering a history lesson in this forum but one would need to understand from whence SATA came in order to be able to appreciate the stance it has today.

What I would assert is that the progression of the SATA technologies have been very slow but it's not necessarily because it's not possible to saturate it. In fact it boils down to shady dealings with chipset planners. Think of the reason why USB3 is STILL not the mainstream...

Intel, VIA, AMD etc could all very push the standard to progress to 20gbps but then you have the other side of the spectrum - WD and Seagate who dont want that to happen either for fear of being left in an even bigger dust cloud by the SSD vendors.

So basically what I am saying is... it's politics

pmshah said:

I am surprised at this when they have yet not sorted out the problem with the on board front panel USB 3.0 header in their H77 chipset based motherboards.

Just last month I built a system on DH77EB + i3-3220T processor. Everything worked just right. When I plugged in a 2 port USB 3.0 back panel header into the on board USB 3.0 front panel socket ALL the USB 3.0 ports became non functional in Win 7. Went to the Intel site to find the solution but there is nothing there.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Intel demonstrated the second generation tech for those in attendance, hitting 1,200Mbps transfers with ease. " I think there is a typo there. Maybe you meant to say 12,000Mbps(12Gbps) cause 1,200Mbps sounds slower than a snail compared to today's tech.
Or, maybe he meant "1200MBs", (mega-BYTES-per second), which is about 10 Gbs

Holyscrap said:

Or, maybe he meant "1200MBs", (mega-BYTES-per second), which is about 10 Gbs

That too, in the tech world the difference between "B" and "b" (Byte and bit) is a big deal (a Byte=8*bit).

It was typo (we all make them) but it hasn't been fixed yet...

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