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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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  • SteelCity1981
    I see thunderbolt much like firewire both standards were faster than usb standards, but usb had something both standards didn't have that's affordability and compatibility and that's why usb is by far the most universal connection for devices and I don't see any other standard dethrowning usb anytime soon.
    Reply
  • hitman400
    I see thunderbolt much like firewire both standards were faster than usb standards, but usb had something both standards didn't have that's affordability and compatibility and that's why usb is by far the most universal connection for devices and I don't see any other standard dethrowning usb anytime soon.

    It is more expensive because it is faster. It is a no brainer, more speed=more money. It is there as a premium. Eventually, USB will become obsolete if companies start to realize potential just like they are starting to with Apple's USB-C. But for now, USB 3.0 is the standard like you mention.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    It is more expensive because it is faster. It is a no brainer, more speed=more money. It is there as a premium. Eventually, USB will become obsolete if companies start to realize potential just like they are starting to with Apple's USB-C. But for now, USB 3.0 is the standard like you mention.
    Faster (and thus more expensive) doesn't cause a technology to become a de facto standard. Cheap and "good enough" do. That's why USB won out. Thunderbolt would be more comparable to DisplayPort in the video port race and USB is akin to VGA: the port that just doesn't die.
    And no, it's not "Apple's" USB-C by any stretch of the imagination.
    Reply
  • Grandmastersexsay
    USB 3.0 is already faster than any sata ssd hard drive on your computer, so any peripheral device that accesses your hard drive is of no benifit. That's about 99.9% of devices. So that pretty much leaves video, but display port is capable of a higher bit rate. I fail to see any usefulness of thunderbolt. Additionally, I automatically despise anything that gets its name from a boardroom and focus groups.
    Reply
  • cia1413
    USB3 is not faster than new ssds. Also, even though the spec for usb3 is 5gbps its never that fast in the real world. As far as the usefulness of thunderbolt, I use thunderbolt devices all the time for video production stuff. I know that that is a very niche market but i love the ability to easily connect what would have been a pcie card when i need it. P.S. i use them on a asus laptop, I hate that you CANT use add in cards on the new mac pro.
    Reply
  • Grandmastersexsay
    850 pro can do about 500 MB/s or 4 Gb/s which is about as fast as it gets for sata. You are probably thinking of a pci ssd.
    Reply
  • WyomingKnott
    I'm ignorant; please educate me. Do you need to buy a graphics card with a Thunderbolt connector, or does it loop back into the motherboard and go out the motherboard's connector with, possibly, storage added on? Or what?
    Reply
  • lahma
    I see thunderbolt much like firewire both standards were faster than usb standards, but usb had something both standards didn't have that's affordability and compatibility and that's why usb is by far the most universal connection for devices and I don't see any other standard dethrowning usb anytime soon.
    LOL @ "Apple's USB-C". If Apple had anything to do with the creation of USB-C, it would neither be affordable, compatible with other platforms, or backwards compatible. The argument that "expensive is faster" is a ridiculous oversimplification of the matter. In the tech world, there are always trade-offs between competing technologies, and price is only one of the many factors. The trade-offs the USB standard make allow us to have scores of USB cables laying around our homes, vehicles, and offices. You would go broke trying to have as many Thunderbolt cables. I thank God Apple has nothing to do with the USB standard...
    Reply
  • mrmez
    Real world sustained USB 3.0 hits about 110MB/s. Far from the claimed top.
    Most SSDs today are at least rated on paper ~500MB/s.

    There are plenty of devices and applications calling for far more than 110Mb/s
    Reply