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Intel Launches Light Peak Tech as ''Thunderbolt''

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 54 comments

It's got the logo fit for a superhero.

While we may have USB 3.0 and eSATA, but the real high-speed next generation connector could be Intel Light Peak – or should we say, Thunderbolt.

Today Intel officially announced that its Light Peak technology would be branded as Thunderbolt on all platforms (not just Apple making up fancy names). We didn't feel that there was anything wrong with Light Peak; we had grown quite fond of using that name. But for the casual consumer, Thunderbolt likely sounds more like something cool out of a comic book.

Thunderbolt features two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to 10Gbps each, and delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWire and USB consumer devices and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters.

Intel boasts that the speed offered by Thunderbolt is enough to transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds or backup 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just over 10 minutes.

Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays, which is its implementation on the Apple MacBook Pros with the shared Thunderbolt/DisplayPort.

Other features include:

    * Daisy-chained devices

    * Electrical or optical cables

    * Low latency with highly accurate time synchronization

    * Uses native protocol software drivers

    * Power over cable for bus-powered devices

Check out Intel's page on Thunderbolt here.

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  • 2 Hide
    bto , February 24, 2011 1:48 PM
    Now we'll start seeing external GTX 570's sitting on a desk next to your laptop port replicator wewt! only take your video card when you need it, imagine a 14" laptop that drops into a port replicator with a nice upper range pci-e vid card next to it. connected to your 42" LCD on your desk. Kewl, wonder what kind of power ratings it can support. (the 570 would obviously have external psu) :) 
  • 2 Hide
    jprahman , February 24, 2011 1:50 PM
    Wait, so if Light Peak (or Thunder Bolt) supports PCIe, and can basically function as a PCIe cable, then wouldn't that allow to you do stuff like have external graphics cards. You could even break a PC into multiple parts and have each part connected by this interconnect. Probably not practical or likely to happen, but it's an interesting idea.
  • 5 Hide
    schmich , February 24, 2011 2:02 PM
    I'm disappointed at the name change. Light Peak was a classy name. There's already an HTC phone being released called the Thunderbolt, keep LPK!
  • Display all 54 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    schmich , February 24, 2011 2:05 PM
    Also I hope that Thunderbolt isn't like USB and can only be inserted one way. Just imagine the amount of times throughout the World the USB plug has been turned around due to being in the wrong direction.
  • 0 Hide
    mianmian , February 24, 2011 2:05 PM
    Note that the bandwidth of thunderbolt is only 10GB/s (equals 4x pcie)
    It is not enought for memory, graphic card(need 8x, i think).
    I hope it can uniformed the exterenal I/O port (usb, display, eSATA, eithernet...). So we do not need so many type of interface. CopperPeak (well thunderbolt) all the way.
  • 0 Hide
    jprahman , February 24, 2011 2:10 PM
    Well for graphics cards or high bandwidth applications you could use dual cables.
  • 0 Hide
    rhino13 , February 24, 2011 2:16 PM
    Will it stick?
    Firewire was great tech when it came out too, but no way I'm paying the extra to get firewire enabled devices. It's USB3.0 or eSATA for me.

    So... what's avalible for Thunderbolt?
  • -1 Hide
    loomis86 , February 24, 2011 2:28 PM
    I really hope this takes off. I really hope they quickly upgrade thunderbolt and phase out the copper version of lightpeak. This could be HUGE. If they can fully incorporate fiber optics onto the motherboard, guess what? Game changer for motherboard design! Nothing needs to be in close proximity for speed. In fact, your components don't really even need to be in the same case! How does RAM mounted on SD cards sound? Or a hundred gig SD card utilized as your hard drive?
  • 2 Hide
    nullifi , February 24, 2011 2:52 PM
    schmichAlso I hope that Thunderbolt isn't like USB and can only be inserted one way. Just imagine the amount of times throughout the World the USB plug has been turned around due to being in the wrong direction.

    I don't know about your USB connections, but mine only go in one way. I have, however, plugged USB into an ethernet port quite a few times.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 24, 2011 3:00 PM
    Probably should have kept the Light Peak name. It was already branded.

    Thunderbolt is the nickname of a United States Air Force jet fighter.
  • 0 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , February 24, 2011 3:01 PM
    20Gbps (2x10Gbps) is still low as far as external high performance graphics cards are concerned.
  • 0 Hide
    Snipergod87 , February 24, 2011 3:02 PM
    nullifiI don't know about your USB connections, but mine only go in one way. I have, however, plugged USB into an ethernet port quite a few times.


    You can force the USB cable in the wrong way and damage the desktop side of the connector making that USB port unfunctional.
  • 0 Hide
    Doomsy2006 , February 24, 2011 3:08 PM
    Does anyone know the POWER OUTPUT. For instance USB being 3mW or something what can this do? Can it provide enough to power a laptop completely?
  • 0 Hide
    dokidoki , February 24, 2011 3:08 PM
    I forsee a collaboration with Marvel in the near future. And judging from the way the port is shaped, it can only go in one way. It's square on one side and a hexagon on the other.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , February 24, 2011 3:15 PM
    Could this lead to an age of PC parts that are like Hi Fi separates?

    The "Amp" is the mobo, CPU and RAM - the HDDs, Optical drive, graphics, sound, network, monitor - all connected by Thunderbolt.

    People said this years ago with USB but it never came about due to bandwidth issues but now we have a fat-pipe it may just get there assuming OEMs actually use the standard.
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , February 24, 2011 3:20 PM
    jprahmanWait, so if Light Peak (or Thunder Bolt) supports PCIe, and can basically function as a PCIe cable, then wouldn't that allow to you do stuff like have external graphics cards. You could even break a PC into multiple parts and have each part connected by this interconnect. Probably not practical or likely to happen, but it's an interesting idea.



    Seems more like a new pci-e port that is located externally instead of internally, since pci-e supports many different devices, the thunderbolt will support have a wide range of support also, (with the help of adapters which can be sold at high markups).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 24, 2011 3:46 PM
    If it's like USB, then "10gbps" is more like "1-2gbps" in the real world.
  • 0 Hide
    bto , February 24, 2011 4:05 PM
    jprahmanWait, so if Light Peak (or Thunder Bolt) supports PCIe, and can basically function as a PCIe cable, then wouldn't that allow to you do stuff like have external graphics cards. You could even break a PC into multiple parts and have each part connected by this interconnect. Probably not practical or likely to happen, but it's an interesting idea.
    USB was supposed to basically do "that" which you can run a video card via usb, audio card via usb, network car via usb etc.
  • 0 Hide
    bto , February 24, 2011 4:07 PM
    hardcore_gamer20Gbps (2x10Gbps) is still low as far as external high performance graphics cards are concerned.

    compare that to the USB 2.0 external graphics cards. Not even same league. looks at the business side as well, they sell alot of those usb externals for business related functionality; to have 3 monitors on a laptop etc.
  • -2 Hide
    Wish I Was Wealthy , February 24, 2011 4:15 PM
    Hey JohnnyLuck...Go man,go,go,go...
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