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Intel Shows Off New Thunderbolt 2 Products At NAB 2015

The yearly National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show gives media professionals from multiple disciplines the chance to meet and peddle their wares. Every year, NAB spurs a flood of new product releases from a variety of vendors, and this year is no exception. NAB has it all, from enterprise storage products to the latest in displays and client storage technology.

Intel is a strong proponent of Thunderbolt technology, and it has a number of new products in its booth from multiple vendors to highlight the expanding number of Thunderbolt 2 products on the market. Thunderbolt 2 is well suited to media professionals due to its flexible nature and high bandwidth. The jump to Thunderbolt 2 actually didn't increase bandwidth, but it provides channel aggregation of the previously-separated 10 Gbps channels. This enables new capabilities, such as simultaneously transferring and displaying 4K video.

Thunderbolt users can connect up to six devices, such as 4K monitors and storage products, through a single port that carries both DisplayPort and PCIe data. What kind of craziness does this spawn? Let's start with the "world's first" 4K Thunderbolt 2 monitor.

LG Electronics 31MU97Z 

LG ships five different Thunderbolt 2 monitors, but the LG 31MU97Z steps away from the pack as it's a 4K display. The 31" monitor sports two Thunderbolt 2 ports and pushes a 4096 x 2160 resolution (17:9) to the IPS panel. The display will certainly set you back a few clams, but details are sparse and LG isn't commenting on the list price or availability as of yet.

The monitor also allows a direct connection to the Thunderbolt cable in lieu of the pesky adapters or docks with DisplayPort/HDMI connections that are required with other monitors. Thunderbolt 2 works as advertised, and the capability to both display and simultaneously transfer 4K video streamlines workflows.

QNAP Thunderbolt 2 NAS 

QNAP is making an entrance into an entirely new category with its Thunderbolt NAS solution. The QNAP Thunderbolt NAS features two Thunderbolt 2 ports that provide enough speed to transfer 4K video in real time. QNAP has yet to make an official announcement of the new product, so we don't have many details, but it is a compelling product because of the fast transfer speeds that rival 10 GbE. 

We'll follow up with more details once they're available.

The Thunderbolt booth at NAB 2015 also has several demos, including Thunderbolt NAS, 4K content creation with card reader, and Thunderbolt networking. A bevy of Thunderbolt product releases were announced this week, including the new LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt enclosure with a 1TB SSD; the Pegasus2 R2+ RAID 0/1 media station with an included USB 3.0 port; the Sonnet Fusion PCIe Flash Drive in 256 GB and 512 GB capacities; and the m.2-powered JMR PCIe Flash Drive in 128, 256 and 512 GB capacities; among many others. 

The leading-edge Thunderbolt 2 products highlight some of the new features we can expect to see in the future. As more ports make their way onto motherboards with Intel chipsets, we can expect the ecosystem to continue to expand. Thunderbolt 2 is much faster than USB 3.1, but we wouldn't hold our breath on it usurping the ol' USB standby for most external devices in the near future due to cost concerns.

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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.