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Everything You Need To Know About Thunderbolt

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June 12, 2012 3:46:03 AM

A year after its debut on Apple platforms, Thunderbolt is finally available for PCs. Both fast and scalable, the technology’s 10 Gb/s connectivity and potential for external graphics promises to inspire innovation. But is it ready for prime time?

Everything You Need To Know About Thunderbolt : Read more

More about : thunderbolt

June 12, 2012 4:23:15 AM

I was really hoping to see some eGPU benchmark. Oh well, I guess I have to wait.
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June 12, 2012 4:35:14 AM

thunderbolt will fail after external PCIE standard is implemented
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June 12, 2012 4:52:45 AM

Active cables are more likely to have defects or break down over time. This, plus their high expense, is not going to go over well with most people.
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June 12, 2012 5:39:24 AM

Looks like I'm going to steer clear of Copperpeak for my future build.
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June 12, 2012 5:43:20 AM

Cost is going to kill this.
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June 12, 2012 6:25:02 AM

^
because "thunderbolt" sounds much sexier than "HDBaseT " ?

and with apple, its all about the sexiness, not functionality/practicality.
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June 12, 2012 6:35:56 AM

Prediction: We will see Thunderbolt available on SmartPhones. When we do, this port will be able to handle a monitor, external hard drives, speakers and many other USB devices through its Thunderbolt docking station. Obviously a SmartPhone won't need to be attached to a webcam. This will become the future desktop...that is, if it can run Crysis. LOL Had to add that in there. :) 
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June 12, 2012 7:02:10 AM

I remenber scsi interface ,so expensive ,just the company (server) use it .
and sata interface replace it.
For me Thunderbolt is the same song
I predict a sata 4 (12gb) or usb 4 ,soon
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June 12, 2012 7:21:18 AM

Hot, expensive active cables cannot be anything else than niche.
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June 12, 2012 7:31:53 AM

Technology for the rich ...

i can wait a couple of minutes for files to be copied on USB 3.0 which is universal and open standard .

thanks intel but ill pass
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June 12, 2012 7:43:12 AM

I really hope that this is going to be another flop. USB3 is just fine for almost everything. I do agree that we need open external PCIe standard. We're already paying too much to Intel.
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June 12, 2012 9:46:47 AM

Only thing usefull i can see right now is a laptop with intel/amd gpu using it to get access to high end external discrete gpu. All the other possibilities are not needed to be through thunderbolt.
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Anonymous
June 12, 2012 10:15:44 AM

What is 125oF in real measurements?
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June 12, 2012 12:29:14 PM

Thunderbolt is a wonderful innovation and alternative, but hardly ready for prime-time. Even on the Mac platform there is a derth of devices that use thunderbolt. Will thunderbolt be USB or Firewire?
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June 12, 2012 1:22:50 PM

emad_ramlawiTechnology for the rich ...i can wait a couple of minutes for files to be copied on USB 3.0 which is universal and open standard . thanks intel but ill pass


And if USB 3.0 is too slow, then use two of them (flashdrives in RAID 0 anyone?).
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Anonymous
June 12, 2012 1:38:14 PM

I can't believe how narrow some other people comments are. This new standard is for high end users and later others as well once prices start to drop. USB3 eSata when you are working with files that are 10s of Gigs in size are just too slow. Thunderbolt is fast plus easy plug and play for so many future possibilities. There are already a number of hard drives, raids arrays, Displays and now expansion Link PCIe adapter from Mlogic. Already it's potential is becoming interesting.
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June 12, 2012 2:04:36 PM

What are the costs of these new Thunderbolt ports on new z77 motherboards and are they 3rd party?

I was considering getting the new Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH for my new i7 build but, not because of the Thunderbolt ports, but rather, due to the alleged lower mobo temps, which I'm concerned about with our 85F (31C) indoor temps. I await a serious review. These new boards are supposed to be available by the end of June:

Gigabyte's Hardcore Thunderbolt Demo with GA-Z77X-UP5 TH Motherboard
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deImUH8aUHQ

Gigabyte Ultra Durable 5 at Computex, shows much lower temperatures
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLggGetNR14

z77 Motherboard Discussion
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/308058-30-motherboard...
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June 12, 2012 2:17:49 PM

^ "are they 3rd party?"

of course not = Intel
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June 12, 2012 2:25:30 PM

I don't see this tech taking off in the consumer sector any day soon, its to expensive compared to the alternatives and with active cables it ensures that it will remain so! Few have use of the extra bandwidth provided where an usb3 will remain more than sufficient for the masses and the equipment/cables remain cheap!
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June 12, 2012 2:44:25 PM

Will the new ipad, iphone etc have a Thunderbolt port?
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June 12, 2012 3:07:02 PM

Considering that the number of peripherals available is approximately zero, I'd say this theoretically great technology is practically useless.
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June 12, 2012 3:09:09 PM

Thunderbolt has all the signs of FireWire: it's faster and can provide power. It also has the added effect of "we already having something universal".
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June 12, 2012 3:33:11 PM

rex86I really hope that this is going to be another flop. USB3 is just fine for almost everything. I do agree that we need open external PCIe standard. We're already paying too much to Intel.


Yea because paying $220 for a 2500K is too much.....

Honestly its suprising to me to see people talk like this. Technology has to move forward. USB 3.0 is fine for some applications but the interface was not designed for high bandwidth operations such as flash drives/eHDDs. It chokes thanks to the 8b/10b encoding that causes a large drop in thoroghput.

And people act as if USB 3.0 was as cheap as USB 2.0 to start and it wasn't. Everything new starts at a higher price and drops when it becomes more widley used.

Thunderbolt has a lot of potential to increase external devices capabilities. I don't see myself ever using it but it will probably be used in places that need that kind of speed and when it hits 50Gbps via optical I am sure those same people will love it.
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June 12, 2012 4:19:11 PM

cknobmanIntel and Apple two dictator monopolistic "do what we say or else" companies trying to shove an over priced technology down our throats.KISS MY @SS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


^--- What he said. Definitely one of those techs were I will not stand in line for early adoption.
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June 12, 2012 4:29:47 PM

Not ready for prime time...

Copper may have been less expensive but Optical cables would have been cooler (temperature wise and sexiness wise)
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June 12, 2012 4:45:36 PM

Copper is cheaper to INTEL from the motherboard side... Optical is cheaper on the cable side.

Still, a motherboard with thunderbolt is $200 extra... not very pretty. The heat can't be great for motherboards... but may get cooler in the future.

For notebooks, external storage and GPUs will make good use of TB.
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June 12, 2012 5:16:20 PM

Daisy chaining seems like a terrible way to do anything....

Add to that the cost of the cables (which I guess is still less than an HDMI cable at BestBuy :/  ), the length limitation, lack of supporting hardware, and limited usefulness of 10Gb/s among the category of "thing's that can be peripheral".
I see this being relatively useless 99% of the time.

The only cool possibility is that you could power your display from the 10W supply and make a cheaper monitor (assuming the cost of the interface is less than the cost of an AC-DC converter and that the display supports Thunderbolt exclusively) with less clutter around the desk.
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June 12, 2012 5:38:53 PM

Thunderbolt, yet another useless proprietary technology from Intel backed only by marketing and Intel's deep pockets.
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June 12, 2012 6:29:52 PM

DjScribblesThe only cool possibility is that you could power your display from the 10W supply and make a cheaper monitor (assuming the cost of the interface is less than the cost of an AC-DC converter and that the display supports Thunderbolt exclusively) with less clutter around the desk.


Good luck finding a decent monitor that would run with only 10 watts... Maybe something very small.
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Anonymous
June 12, 2012 7:15:18 PM

Price complaints are moot. Now that PC's have it, we'll see price wars on cables and devices. There are some great reasons for it over USB3, Docking stations are one awesome reason.. I've seen a few that offer duel DVI/eSATA and USB3 that work with both Mac and PC for around $300 - no double prices will drop over time.. They should drop to around $150-$200 after awhile.

For a mobile device like an Ultrabook, I think this technology will be an win-win, especially once prices start coming down. It's essentially a PCIe slot on tap, so very cool.

Also, Tom's Hardware got it wrong with the optical cable speeds.. Optical speeds are are 100 GB/s, not 10 GB/s.. But Apple wanted a powered solution, so they pushed back the optical release and called 10GB/s good enough for now.

This is one of the reasons I do not see this technology going away, it has to much room to grow. Nothing will touch it for awhile, once we start seeing mid-to-low cost optical cable solutions and maybe powered Thunderbolt hubs, sweetness is.. :)  - Upgrading a video card and multiple displays while docked on a laptop ultrabook suddenly becomes a very cool option for those who don't want to put money into both laptop and a desktop.

Once laptop to rule them all :D 
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June 12, 2012 7:20:12 PM

I think Light Peak is where things will get really interesting. Till then, not so much, though Thunderbolt would be more promising if Intel made it an open standard.
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June 12, 2012 7:47:54 PM

ojasI think Light Peak is where things will get really interesting. Till then, not so much, though Thunderbolt would be more promising if Intel made it an open standard.

I think you missed this paragraph in the story:

Of course, Thunderbolt is a name for an Intel initiative originally code-named Light Peak—an optical physical layer used to connect peripherals. Back when Intel first showed off its Light Peak project at IDF 2009, it was thought that optical would enable 10 Gb/s throughput. However, a version employing copper wiring turned out better than expected, allowing Intel to drop costs and deliver up to 10 W of power to attached devices.
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June 12, 2012 8:04:41 PM

I don't see this getting used in a high-end workstation. If high-end work is part of my job, I will have an internal array of SSDs for scratch pad, and a dedicated link to long-term online (probably internal) and nearline (SAN or something) storage. TB is designed to be flexible; if I don't need something to be flexible, there's no point paying more for it. The other benefit to TB is multi-tasking for a single connection. High-end WSs don't require that either - but as many of you note laptops can benefit from it. I still think they screwed up by not including bi-directional power connections, so that you can either power downstream devices, or power the root device (e.g. a laptop) from a downstream power supply. That would have been really slick: plug a single cable into your laptop, and it connects to display, USB hub, network, and SATA, plus wall outlet power. Traveling consultants would LOVE that.
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June 12, 2012 8:47:35 PM

Thunderbolt is cool and fast but the sad fact is that intel screwed them selves by releasing this tech on a platform that has 7% of the personal computer market share. No one buys macs because they are over priced/under performing junk. Then add into the mix a freakishly expensive technology that marginally outperforms USB 3.0 and cant hold a candle to USB in terms or usage and compatibility and you have a recipie for fail. If intel would have released thunderbolt on the 93% of the global market share I have a feeling things might be a little different.
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June 12, 2012 9:49:52 PM

all i know we need something to replace the archaic USB port. USB3.0 is just a way to keep it relevant in the industry. i hope thunderbolt or something like it will come along and replace it for good
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June 12, 2012 10:05:39 PM

mayankleoboy1 said:
thunderbolt will fail after external PCIE standard is implemented


We all know what happens when you're late to the party. Displayport, anyone?
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June 12, 2012 10:14:54 PM

This might be a ignorant question but why don't they put the Gennum GN2033 chips inside the computer and device before the port so it could use a passive cable? I don't understand why it has to be in the cable.
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June 12, 2012 11:12:06 PM

despite the good parts and long list of bad parts with this tech. the whole thing stinks of what killed firewire, high costs and tightly controlled by apple so it gave Microsoft time to bring out USB which eventually killed off Firewire.
In the time it will take to be made affordable there will be faster options developed maybe and I would bet on the faster options from what I see of this.
Maybe there is a USB4 on the developers list of things to do that will come out and make this flop a dead issue.
This is the same old true fact of people, we never really learn from our past and this is following in Fire-wire's footsteps and will probably end up in the what might have been products but was killed off because of greed from the makers and not flexible or available to other people to make it and offer better idea's on how to expand it into a affordable product.
Intel is VERY VERY greedy and that is the biggest problem it will have to deal with. Same as Apple was with Fire-wire.
Yep, another circle of the past is rearing it's ugly head.
I hope they come out with a USB4 to kill it. Even though I hate Microsoft at least USB is standardized and everyone is making use of it.
And right now we can live just fine with USB3 because there isn't much out there that is faster than it to become a issue or problem.
Thanks for that link, it did bring up a lot of points that should be brought out and taken a closer look at.
It kind of sounds like a high priced Lemon.
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June 13, 2012 4:40:48 AM

huskerI think you missed this paragraph in the story:o f course, Thunderbolt is a name for an Intel initiative originally code-named Light Peak—an optical physical layer used to connect peripherals. Back when Intel first showed off its Light Peak project at IDF 2009, it was thought that optical would enable 10 Gb/s throughput. However, a version employing copper wiring turned out better than expected, allowing Intel to drop costs and deliver up to 10 W of power to attached devices.

No i didn't miss anything. Light Peak is the optical thing, the copper based equivalent is Thunderbolt. I meant when light peak reaches the point where Thunderbolt is now, then things will get really interesting. Cable won't heat up,
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June 13, 2012 5:18:45 AM

hyperanthripoidThis might be a ignorant question but why don't they put the Gennum GN2033 chips inside the computer and device before the port so it could use a passive cable? I don't understand why it has to be in the cable.


So that some of high cost is added only when you decide to use it. They want their ports to be included in as many devices as possible and putting the gennums in the cable reduces the cost of the port implementation thus increasing the possibility that a vendor will actually include this technology.
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June 13, 2012 6:56:56 AM

ojasNo i didn't miss anything. Light Peak is the optical thing, the copper based equivalent is Thunderbolt. I meant when light peak reaches the point where Thunderbolt is now, then things will get really interesting. Cable won't heat up,


Light Peak was the project code name. The retail brand name is now Thunderbolt. Read further down on page one. Optical cables should come later this year. Thunderbolt will still be known as Thunderbolt. The name won't change.

Cheers,
Andrew Ku
TomsHardware.com
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June 13, 2012 7:01:17 AM

CMI86Thunderbolt is cool and fast but the sad fact is that intel screwed them selves by releasing this tech on a platform that has 7% of the personal computer market share. No one buys macs because they are over priced/under performing junk. Then add into the mix a freakishly expensive technology that marginally outperforms USB 3.0 and cant hold a candle to USB in terms or usage and compatibility and you have a recipie for fail. If intel would have released thunderbolt on the 93% of the global market share I have a feeling things might be a little different.


Read page 1. PCs now have Thunderbolt. It applies to that 93% now.

Read page 2. Not marginally. USB 3.0 at best will top out at ~250 MB/s, depends on the device. Most USB 3.0 RAID solutions are ~150 MB/s (immature controllers). Thunderbolt uses native PCIe x4 uplink (half dedicated for video). Real world performance, that's 1 GB/s of throughput. And you can stack multiple Thunderbolt controllers on a mobo.
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June 13, 2012 7:11:14 AM

larkspur said:
So that some of high cost is added only when you decide to use it. They want their ports to be included in as many devices as possible and putting the gennums in the cable reduces the cost of the port implementation thus increasing the possibility that a vendor will actually include this technology.


Yes and no. From an engineering standpoint, you want the gennums further downstream in the cables to boost the signal. There's little point to do so within the PC, because it would defeat the purpose of an active cable. If it was within the PC, passive cables would be short.

Think of it the same way you would a DVI booster or a WiFi Repeater. Including those technologies at the base would help the base/host, but it wouldn't actually help transmit the signal over a longer distance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_cable

On the practical side, with an active cable, you don't have to use as much copper. Reduces bulk. Longer transmission length and lower power consumption.

A Bad Day said:
And if USB 3.0 is too slow, then use two of them (flashdrives in RAID 0 anyone?).



Wrong. It might actually be slower. On any given USB 3.0 mobo, two ports map to a single controller. You need to run them off two ports not sharing the same controller. Even then, seq perf might be marginally better. It depends on the USB 3.0 controller on the device side as well. Often times, it's capped round ~150 MB/s. We've seen this even from RAID-based USB 3.0 enclosures (read page 2).

bigjuliefromchicago said:
Considering that the number of peripherals available is approximately zero, I'd say this theoretically great technology is practically useless.



I'm surprised you would say that. Technology always starts this way. A few devices becomes many devices. Even the most successful standards start this way. USB 3.0 won't go away. It's ubiquitous. However, Thunderbolt is the new Firewire, which was able to coexist with USB. So too will Thunderbolt.

Quote:
I can't believe how narrow some other people comments are. This new standard is for high end users and later others as well once prices start to drop. USB3 eSata when you are working with files that are 10s of Gigs in size are just too slow. Thunderbolt is fast plus easy plug and play for so many future possibilities. There are already a number of hard drives, raids arrays, Displays and now expansion Link PCIe adapter from Mlogic. Already it's potential is becoming interesting.



I totally agree. Methinks not everyone read the article. Thunderbolt is on PCs! We're not dealing with just macs. External PCIe isn't going to happen in any big way (limited anyways to x1. Thunderbolt is the answer to that problem with x4 performance.

Cheers,
Andrew Ku
TomsHardware.com
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June 13, 2012 8:39:59 AM

For laptop, it makes sense. But for desktop? Why would I? I got access to all the PCIe ports & SATA 6GBs that I have there.
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June 13, 2012 9:34:43 AM

bigjuliefromchicagoConsidering that the number of peripherals available is approximately zero, I'd say this theoretically great technology is practically useless.


MOTU, Blackmagic Design, Universal Audio and Apogee would all beg to differ about their being 'approximately zero' Thunderbolt devices. Avid is also apparently gearing up to make a slot--box compatible with Pro Tools HD hardware. Expect more audio interface manufacturers to embrace Thunderbolt as Apple is clearly leaving Firewire.
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June 13, 2012 11:09:12 AM

SolamarPrice complaints are moot. Now that PC's have it, we'll see price wars on cables and devices. There are some great reasons for it over USB3, Docking stations are one awesome reason.. I've seen a few that offer duel DVI/eSATA and USB3 that work with both Mac and PC for around $300 - no double prices will drop over time.. They should drop to around $150-$200 after awhile. For a mobile device like an Ultrabook, I think this technology will be an win-win, especially once prices start coming down. It's essentially a PCIe slot on tap, so very cool.Also, Tom's Hardware got it wrong with the optical cable speeds.. Optical speeds are are 100 GB/s, not 10 GB/s.. But Apple wanted a powered solution, so they pushed back the optical release and called 10GB/s good enough for now. This is one of the reasons I do not see this technology going away, it has to much room to grow. Nothing will touch it for awhile, once we start seeing mid-to-low cost optical cable solutions and maybe powered Thunderbolt hubs, sweetness is.. - Upgrading a video card and multiple displays while docked on a laptop ultrabook suddenly becomes a very cool option for those who don't want to put money into both laptop and a desktop.Once laptop to rule them all

Price wars? Are you nuts? This is an INTEL PROPRIETARY STANDARD which means that Intel holds all the cards. Remember how petulent they were with the x86 standard? What makes you think that they won't sue the crap out of any company that tries to reproduce this? You're either stupid, blind, naieve or all three. On second thought, you might also be on Intel's marketing team.
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June 13, 2012 2:22:14 PM

Intel should have made the cables optical and not cheaped out by passing the cost on to the consumer over switching. Thunderbolt is vaguely interesting but I personally so no use for it. I would have rather seen the money on the design of a board spent on all USB3 ports and just get rid of USB2 and TB altogether. I would think that would save money on the board design and boost the market on already fast USB3 devices.
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June 13, 2012 3:59:01 PM

For the mainstream, usb 3.0 and esata are quick enough.

My wife and parents and siblings are not transferring anything at 1GB/s.

This technology is going the way of firewire, where any devices that sport it will be expensive high end components. This will never come down to usb pricing, since its not a standard and because its proprietary.
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