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Third-Gen Thunderbolt Chip Slated for 2Q13 Release

Back in February 2011, Intel's Thunderbolt interface finally hit the market in Apple's MacBook Pro, using the same connector as the Mini DisplayPort. Combining PCI Express and DisplayPort into one serial data interface, it offered data rates up to 10 Gbps and the ability to "chain" supporting peripherals.

The technology, co-developed by Intel and Apple as a replacement for USB and other connections, just recently arrived in the PC sector with a 2nd-gen "Cactus Ridge" chip. However it's mainly offered in high-end desktops and notebooks most likely due to its price: $20 to $25 per Thunderbolt chip. But as with all new emerging technology, Thunderbolt will become more mainstream as the price comes down.

However already there's talk about a 3rd-generation "Redwood Ridge" chip, but whether its pricetag will be lower remains to be seen. The chip is supposedly slated for a 2Q13 release, launching alongside Intel's Haswell "Shark Bay" processors. It will support 10 Gbps data rates, DisplayPort v1.1a and DisplayPort v1.2 Redriver.

That said, any hopes for faster speeds across the Thunderbolt interface won't be realized until 2014. Intel is expected to release a 4th-generation Thunderbolt chip codenamed "Falcon Ridge" sometime during that year, providing data rates up to 20 Gbps through two channels. This should make the interconnect even better for daisy-chaining multiple high-speed devices like monitors, high-quality audio and video interfaces, and RAID arrays.

Back in May, the first Thunderbolt-compatible motherboards entered the PC market including the Asus P8Z77-V Premium, the MSI Z77A-GD80 and the Intel DZ77RE-75K. Unnamed sources said that Thunderbolt would become one of the key specifications that motherboard makers will be competing with in the second half of 2012. Yet due to the current price of Thunderbolt chips, non-Intel chipmakers won't be able to make a profit from the technology, as most can only develop products such as Thunderbolt adapter chips.

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  • vafik
    GREAT! Now I can use all my thunderbolt devises like..............................................
    Reply
  • ojas
    The technology, co-developed by Intel and Apple
    And how many times should we tell you what's wrong with that?
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    vafikGREAT! Now I can use all my thunderbolt devises like..............................................external SSDs in RAID 0 without bottleneck http://www.anandtech.com/show/5956/qnaps-jtb400-a-byod-4bay-thunderbolt-enclosure
    Ultra high resolution displays http://www.apple.com/displays/
    daisy-chain multiple high resolution displays
    High end camera like Red One http://www.red.com/products/red-one and http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echoexpresscard34thunderbolt.html

    Unless they are able to put TCP/IP through it to replace in-home Ethernet there really isnt a whole lot of practical applications yet
    Reply
  • molo9000
    vafikGREAT! Now I can use all my thunderbolt devises like..............................................
    Being able to connect 3 displays to one laptop is pretty awesome.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    ojasAnd how many times should we tell you what's wrong with that?That's how we got USB.... you can't exactly say that was a failure.
    Reply
  • drwho1
    I might be interested in that fourth generation...
    Reply
  • freggo
    Will take a while to penetrate the market.
    CDs took a while, DVDs did...USB did.

    I just hope the connectors are easier to -blindly- insert than USB. I still get mine wrong more often than the 50% statistical value.
    Reply
  • sabarjp
    Wish there were more devices for thunderbolt. It would let laptops do crazy things.

    Imagine a laptop with an external graphics card that can hook up to 3 monitors. You could pop in your external data RAID and move things between your fast laptop SSD and your 6 TB of disk storage. Your thunderbolt display (at 2560*1600 of course) would double as a laptop dock and have ports for ethernet, audio, usb, etc (Apple has a display that is close to doing that).

    The price of the chip needs to drop!

    Reply
  • jwcalla
    caedenvUnless they are able to put TCP/IP through it to replace in-home Ethernet there really isnt a whole lot of practical applications yet
    Yeah that's what I've been hoping for because 10 GbE is still pretty expensive, and SSDs already saturate GbE. meh.
    Reply
  • verbalizer
    Back in May, the first Thunderbolt-compatible motherboards entered the PC market including the Asus P8Z77-V Premium, the MSI Z77A-GD80 and the Intel DZ77RE-75K. Unnamed sources said that Thunderbolt would become one of the key specifications that motherboard makers will be competing with in the second half of 2012. Yet due to the current price of Thunderbolt chips, non-Intel chipmakers won't be able to make a profit from the technology, as most can only develop products such as Thunderbolt adapter chips.
    Intel beats it's chest and flaunts once again...
    (not sure if that is a good thing..)
    Reply