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Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the gee-that's-a-small-production-run dept.

Intel 351

An anonymous reader writes "Thunderbolt ports have been spotted on a PC motherboard, but the reality is that the technology is far from mainstream outside of Apple products. Which is why it is interesting to hear Intel predict that 'a hundred' Thunderbolt devices are expected to be on the market by the end of the year. The comment was made this week at Intel's presentation at IDF in Beijing. Ultrabooks with Thunderbolt are expected to appear this year."

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Not hundreds of different types (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659489)

But literally, just hundreds.

Re:Not hundreds of different types (1)

nicolastheadept (930317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660603)

That's exactly what I was going to write. Well done sir.

So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659565)

Or are they also counting the computers with an unused thunderbolt port on them?

Re:So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659607)

I use mine! For HDMI only. I hope splitter exist for this because only having one port is really dumb.

Re:So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (2)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660353)

From what I understand it's like Firewire, it daisy-chains instead of splitting. That being said I'm sure someone will come up with a thunderbolt hub at some point.

Re:So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660577)

Architecturally, this is true: with the ugly exception of the fact that a very high speed peripheral bus and a video-out interface were bodged into the same connector for no wildly obvious reason.

Because Firewire was a data-only thing, the probability that a given device would daisy-chain was actually pretty decent in the real world, and you could put the non-cooperative freak on the end of the chain. Thunderbolt more analogous to a port that sneaks firewire into your VGA-out(albeit in a way that makes splitting much more complex than a simple mechanical pinout adapter, is my understanding). Because there are loads of video-only devices in the world, the vast majority don't daisy-chain because video devices aren't expected to.

This is the trouble for Thunderbolt: As with classy firewire devices, most of the "thunderbolt peripherals" daisy-chain just fine. However, your Thunderbolt port is also your only video-out port, and something north of 99% of monitors, TVs, projectors, etc. have never heard of this 'daisy-chain' business.

Re:So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659965)

I see a Thunderbolt port as kind of like Sacagawea dollar. Just like I can trade my Sacagawea dollar in at the bank for a real dollar, I can go buy a converter for my Thunderbolt port to turn it into a real port.

Re:So three monitors and ninety-seven hard drives? (0)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660259)

Best analogy ever.

100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659585)

A hundred doesn't seem that impressive.

erm... what? (1, Insightful)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659591)

call me 5 minutes old, but what is thunderbolt? a new x86 standard? a new arduino clone?

rate me down... again.. but I think the header should have had more info.

Re:erm... what? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659691)

Thunderbolt separates those who know how to use Google from the users.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolt_(interface) [wikipedia.org]

Re:erm... what? (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659933)

Thunderbolt separates those who know how to use Google from the users.

No, that's porn.

Re:erm... what? (3, Interesting)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660141)

"Someone announced something really neat and cool and you'll want one. It'll be out soon, on every platform. What, you don't know? Google it, mother-fucker!" Yeah, real fucking informative. News I can use indeed.

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660267)

99% of us knew what this was months ago. It's not our fault you don't keep up with your own field.

Re:erm... what? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660673)

> 99% of us knew what this was months ago. It's not our fault you don't keep up with your own field.

In my field any TB device would be considered a cheap consumer toy.

Re:erm... what? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659803)

If you can't look something up you do not belong here.

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659921)

He has a valid point though.

Noone is talking about thunderbolt.

Re:erm... what? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660007)

I also knew nothing about Thunderbolt, but I looked it up.

It wasn't that hard. In fact I would say it was easier to look up than it was to post.

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660161)

... that wasn't the point.

Re:erm... what? (3, Funny)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660179)

Define: Thunderbolt
A. The Primary Weapon in Zeus' arsenal.
B. A loud noise, generally appearing (ha!) after a lightning bolt.
C. A sexual act involving [censored, for the sake of the children].
D. Some new port, similar to firewire, that won't catch on anywhere except with apple fanboys, who will claim is the second (third) coming of apple superiority while the rest of us just say "Nice OS, dude ... paid too much for the hardware, though".

Re:erm... what? (2)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660343)

C. A sexual act involving [censored, for the sake of the children].

Cowboy Neil?

Re:erm... what? (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660363)

If Intel is going to push it, it'll catch on. So far they haven't, but looks like that may change.

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660195)

The thing is, the wikipedia article doesn't explain why it's significant. Is it significant?

Re:erm... what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660373)

But it would have been easier for TFS to explain it once than for thousands of users to each have to look it up, wouldn't it. And they won't ever learn to do that if nobody ever points out that that the summaries lack necessary information.

Re:erm... what? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660309)

That's because it's the new Firewire. Even if it is technically superior to USB 3, everyone knows that backward compatability is going to trump the expanded features...

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660443)

Except there will never be a USB 4. In order to get to the needed speeds USB 4 would need to do all the tricks that make Thunderbolt currently expensive (active cable, fiber optics, etc...). At that point Thunderbolt will already have a head start.

Re:erm... what? (3, Informative)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660043)

Thunderbolt is a high speed device interface that has similar performance to PCI Express. It supports a wide range of devices that require very high bandwidth and low latency I/O operations, including displays, network adapters, mass storage devices (Disk Drives, RAID arrays etc.) and things like that. Like USB, the port can supply power to attached devices but it runs at much higher data rates than even USB 3.0. Currently it is generally only supported by Apple but the article is saying that it is starting to show up on more generic X86 hardware.

Looking at the comparisons I've found, seems that Thunderbolt is likely to put a spanner in the works for USB 3.0 support. Why bother with USB 3.0 when this port exists at about the same price? Yea there is the compatibility issue with USB, but I have a feeling they will leave the USB 2.0 ports and just add Thunderbolt until they can send USB to the same place printer and serial ports went. Given the bandwidth available on this port, you can put multiple displays and a hand full of disk drives on one port and do away with the VGA, DVI, and eSATA ports in one shot.

Re:erm... what? (1, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660361)

> Looking at the comparisons I've found, seems that Thunderbolt is likely to put a spanner in the works for USB 3.0 support.

I think you have that backwards.

Thunderbolt is NOT the same price as USB3. It is considerably more expensive. Forgetting the legacy support aspect for a moment, you've got the very real problem that TB is at this point mostly vaporware. There are few machines or devices available outside of the Apple reality distortion field.

USB3 is already being bundled with PC motherboards. USB3 add-on cards are cheaper than a Thunderbolt CABLE. USB3 devices are much cheaper.

You have to be a pretty dedicated Apple fanboy to really believe what you posted.

Re:erm... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660505)

What a load of tosh. There are literally hundreds of mobos out there with USB3 right now. And also thousands of cases with USB3 front connectors to go with it, not to mention thousands of USB3 devices.

Let me know when Thunder-whats-his-face reach even 10% of that.

Re:erm... what? (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660507)

I think Thunderbolt requires more silicon for a hard drive than USB. Of course, it is also faster, so it may be worth it, but it isn't quite open and shut.

Where Thunderbolt shines is for displays. It can replace your video cable, your audio cable, your USB cable, your eSATA cable, and your FireWire cable all with a single wire. Now, you can plug in all your hard drives (via USB or FireWire or eSATA) into the monitor on top of your desk instead of fumbling around behind the machine underneath.

Re:erm... what? (1, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660379)

Thunderbolt is another shitty port and set of cables to confuse people, an external connection to the PCIe bus, and a controller to make it do things.

We do not need more ports and cables. Thunderbolt's claim is that by using it we'll have LESS cables. This is what they always say and it's always bullshit.

We've had external PCIe for 7 years. No one wanted it.

The only useful part of Thunderbolt is the controller. In theory, you should be able to pipe video, audio, ethernet, usb, firewire, serial, or any fucking thing your Thunderbotl chipset/frimware supports, over a single cable, as well as daisy chain devices like with firewire/SCSI. The controller basically has shit to handle all of those protocols, and then it just figures out how best to send the data over the link. You should be able to, for example, connect a monitor to your PC via a Thunderbolt cable, then chain a second monitor with a short cable from the first monitor, and again from monitor 2 to monitor 3. Monitor 2 (in the middle) could have the typical USB hub for your mouse, keyboard, whatever, and monitor 3's Thunderbolt out could go to your speakers.

In practice, there are almost no devices that use Thunderbolt, and those that do have different physical ports. The controllers also have varying capabilities with regards to throughput. In the above example, you need a Thunderbolt controller capable of handling all that data, then monitors with physical ports for chaining Thunderbolt devices, and cables that connect those (possibly different) physical ports. Then you need a hell of a lot of luck to not get fucked in the ass by having your audio downgraded to stereo because some HDCP shit failed along the way.

Thunderbolt used to be called Lightpeak, but then they realized they weren't ready to release it as such (and optical version), so now there will be Thunderbolt over copper and Thunderbolt over optical, meaning different sets of cables and different sets of ports that adapters will not work for (unless they're active and have an optical transceiver and cost $70).

They should have waited and got hardware manufacturers on board, but Apple needed another bullet point for their press conference.

TL;DR: Thunderbolt is the new Firewire.

What is it again? (1, Interesting)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659593)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP, USB3, whatever thunderbolt is, FW, eSATA, unique docking connector, Ethernet, unique power socket, and a card reader for eighteen different cards. I'm sure I've missed a few.

Re:What is it again? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659681)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports

You don't appear to understand it at all.

Re:What is it again? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660613)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports

You don't appear to understand it at all.

So..., you're saying it's not another port to plug things in. I don't believe you. To me, it appears to be exactly that. What am I missing, coward?

Re:What is it again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660675)

Try google or wikipedia, unless you need someone to spoon feed you? Dipshit.

Re:What is it again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659705)

It's essentially an external PCI-E bus. Literally anything that can be built to use a PCI-E interface can be built to a Thunderbolt interface.

Re:What is it again? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659759)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP, USB3, whatever thunderbolt is, FW, eSATA, unique docking connector, Ethernet, unique power socket, and a card reader for eighteen different cards. I'm sure I've missed a few.

Kinda makes you long for the days of PCMCIA cards, eh? Does me.

Re:What is it again? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660217)

Very much so. The only problem with PCMCIA is that People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms. Also Thunderbolt is an equally stupid name. There is no such thing as a thunderbolt, as thunder is the sound. I think what they were looking for was Lightning Bolt. Also I don't want lightning or thunder anywhere near my electronics. Tends to cause problems.

Re:What is it again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660459)

No PCMCIA is legacy... and new computers are all about legacy-free, this way you don't have to deal with all these fucking ports -- you can just have one port for everything. Haven't you heard about the Singularity?? Well this is it! Repent or be left-behind, dumbass.

Re:What is it again? (5, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659861)

Ah, but this is one port to rule them all. Conceivably, this could be the only port (aside from the charger) on an ultrabook, maybe a USB port or two in addition. Add a Thunderbolt docking station and you can add ANY port that can be placed on a PCIe bus, even an external GPU.

Re:What is it again? (0)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659941)

Ah, I get it. You pack around a docking station that has a hundred ports on it. That fixes the problem.

Re:What is it again? (4, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659969)

Ah, finally we can have one port to rule them all! It's about time.

I think this [xkcd.com] is appropriate.

Re:What is it again? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660039)

Once you've gone to all that expense, you might as well have a separate machine. This seems to be a solution to problems that only Apple users have because of how Apple likes to design it's hardware.

Re:What is it again? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660247)

Interesting. So in theory, we could finally have universal port replicators on the market. Some may include their own dedicated graphics hardware. Or even better, perhaps a PC like breakout box (size of a shuttle PC) in which you can finally run GPU enabled Adobe products while in office while staying light footed on the road.

Re:What is it again? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660551)

Ah, but this is one port to rule them all. Conceivably, this could be the only port (aside from the charger) on an ultrabook, maybe a USB port or two in addition. Add a Thunderbolt docking station and you can add ANY port that can be placed on a PCIe bus, even an external GPU.

But we've already had docks and ports for those docks that let you add ANY port that could be placed on ANY bus. Yes, they were proprietary, but they worked and had available accessories.

Furthermore, external PCIe came out 7 fucking years ago. Nobody (outside of people running Quadros and Firepros) cared.

Re:What is it again? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660649)

Ah, but this is one port to rule them all. Conceivably, this could be the only port (aside from the charger) on an ultrabook, maybe a USB port or two in addition. Add a Thunderbolt docking station and you can add ANY port that can be placed on a PCIe bus, even an external GPU.

Until the next generation of "one port to rule them all" comes along. Not saying that those things shouldn't come along, but the insinuation that this one is the be all and end all is utter bullshit.

Re:What is it again? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660735)

Ah, but this is one port to rule them all. Conceivably, this could be the only port (aside from the charger) on an ultrabook, maybe a USB port or two in addition. Add a Thunderbolt docking station and you can add ANY port that can be placed on a PCIe bus, even an external GPU.

Those exist. Sony uses it in one of their ultrathin ultraportable laptops - it comes with a "media dock" that adds blu-ray and a GPU, so when docked, you can play games and when undocked, rely on a less powerful graphics card that'll get you better battery life

And anyone complaining about Thunderbolt docking ports needs to remember how stuff like USB serial ports and USB parallel ports (err, "printer adapters") suck ass. A Thunderbolt dock with a real (PCIe-LPC bridge to serial/parallel) will be just like a built-in serial/parallel port. Or PS2. SO your legacy ports just became much better than the USB emulations of same.

The God Cable (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659943)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP, USB3, whatever thunderbolt is, FW, eSATA, unique docking connector, Ethernet, unique power socket, and a card reader for eighteen different cards. I'm sure I've missed a few.

The point is, it's a "God cable." It can, without exaggeration, replace all of those you listed, except the power socket one.
(For example, A MacBook Air has a thunderbolt port and one USB port, and can connect to all the other peripheral types you mention with just those. And that USB port is just for convenience.)

Unfortunately, it's currently priced accordingly. Also, it suffers from the Competing Standards problem [xkcd.com] .

Re:The God Cable (2)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660095)

the power socket one will be out in two years and called the thunderbolt 2+ ultrafast. It will not be compatible with current installations.

Re:The God Cable (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660145)

No a macbook air has two USB ports, one on each side.

Re:The God Cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660389)

can connect to all the other peripheral types you mention with just those*.

*when using an extra adapter

Don't forget that existing peripherals have USB, HDMI etc. connections, not Thunderbolt. So if I wanted to use those devices through Thuderbolt it would be just more inconvenient for me, since I'd have to use an extra device, a "hub" of some sorts.

But maybe someday.. Although I don't see USB going away for the next 15 years at least.

Re:What is it again? (2)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660315)

Its a external PCIe 4x connector that can also carry DisplayPort signals... and yes external Thunderbolt to PCIe card cages exist.

Re:What is it again? (0)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660661)

I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP, USB3, whatever thunderbolt is, FW, eSATA, unique docking connector, Ethernet, unique power socket, and a card reader for eighteen different cards. I'm sure I've missed a few.

That's the real head scratcher. Apple, the king of "you won't see a port that isn't absolutely essential" is the one championing Thunderbolt despite it being far less useful than one of the many display options they have thrown away in recent years (no VGA, use DVI-mini!, no DVI-mini, use DVI-micro!, no DVI-micro, use Mini-displayport!) As many others have noted, it is basically the second coming of Firewire; it tries to out-do something that is widely accepted with something that is slightly superior but much more expensive. While you would think that Apple of all companies would be able to pull that off, it just doesn't feel like it has any legs.

Meh (1)

connor4312 (2608277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659615)

With Thunderbolt cables themselves costing $50 [apple.com] I don't think this will be an "incredible" impact. I predict it being the Firewire of the future: something that's great but not used much by the public. Just look at eSATA, which although its been around since 2004 you'd be hard pressed to even find an eSATA port on any mid to low end (i.e. not enthusiast) motherboard.

Re:Meh (1)

tscheez (71929) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659737)

What self-respecting PC user is going to buy thunderbolt cables from apple?

look at the cable teardown (4, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659783)

This isn't something that Monoprice can make for $1.

There's a CPU and a significant transceiver chip the connectors on each end of the cable.

They're going to be more expensive than USB 3 cables no matter where you get them from.

Re:look at the cable teardown (1, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660127)

Re:look at the cable teardown (4, Informative)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660395)

There is not a single thunderbolt cable on that list. It's just a bunch of displayport cables labeled thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is a combo displayport + PCIe, those cables just deal with the displayport signal and ignore the PCIe part.

Re:look at the cable teardown (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660569)

I didn't see any thunderbolt-to-thunderbolt cables on that link. Those were all converters to a cheaper kind of cable.

Not that I think the Apple store is a place for good prices on accessories... :)

Re:Meh (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659769)

Well, we do know that Apple charges %200 for everything they make, im guessing the cables will come down in price when reasonable producers emerge.

Re:Meh (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659899)

Your point on eSATA may be due more to being able to simply run a PCI bracket with an eSATA port on it from your motherboard, and most people have unused SATA ports. Also, eSATA is not normally powered on 2.5" external drives. Yes, there are powered variants, but they never took off. USB is far handier for portable drives. As for Thunderbolt, I think it's safe to say that other vendors will bring that cable price down. I don't see Thunderbolt making a big splash on desktops, but it could be a great thing for laptops, especially ultrabooks. One tiny port to a docking station that can provide you with just about any kind of port, from more USB ports to a friggin' SCSI connector.

Re:Meh (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660163)

Your point on eSATA may be due more to being able to simply run a PCI bracket with an eSATA port on it from your motherboard, and most people have unused SATA ports. Also, eSATA is not normally powered on 2.5" external drives. Yes, there are powered variants, but they never took off. USB is far handier for portable drives. As for Thunderbolt, I think it's safe to say that other vendors will bring that cable price down. I don't see Thunderbolt making a big splash on desktops, but it could be a great thing for laptops, especially ultrabooks. One tiny port to a docking station that can provide you with just about any kind of port, from more USB ports to a friggin' SCSI connector.

How is that docking station use working out for all those thunderbolt-equipped macs? I think I remember the press conference went something like this:

Hey Mac fans, congratulations because your new Macbook will have another fantastically fast (and lonesome) connector on it starting in 2011! You can use it for all kinds of things, like a display (never mind the micro-displayport plug on there) or for really fast hard drives (never mind the USB3 plug on there) and of course the best part is that you can use it to plug really expensive cables in to! Let's open it up for questions, yes you sir, what, did you actually ask if it's going to be a good way to attach a docking station??? What. THE. FUCK. would a macbook owner want a docking station for? Are you out of your FUCKING mind? If they want a desk full of shit to do work on, they are going to buy a desktop Mac, not some motherFUCKING docking station! Where have you been for the past ten years??? Docking station! I think Steve Jobs just died a little on the inside...

Re:Meh (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660357)

It would be nice to have just a grid of these connectors on the back of a PC though. I was poking a USB cable around the back of my PC the other day trying to find the port I thought was up by the mouse and ended up sticking it in the "EVBot Connector" resetting my PC. (Apparently, I'm not the only one: http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=676801&mpage=1 [evga.com] )

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660165)

Thunderbolt is a nice fast port, way faster than PCMCIA. I am using an eSATA Thunderboard to back up my Apple MacBookPro to external RAID-0 storage. I also use a Firewire 400 Thunderboard to interface to video equipment. It just works. I am patiently waiting fro the arrival of a LVD SCSI Thunderboard, and a GPIB Thunderboard to interface to other lab equipment. What's not to like?

Re:Meh (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660213)

With Thunderbolt cables themselves costing $50

Well, if you're buying the cable from the Apple Store, that's your first problem.

Re:Meh (1)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660403)

Well... I don't think so. Apple cables may be expensive, but most of them can easily be purchased for a LOT less (with a few notable exceptions) if you don't go to Apple for them. Charging cables for an I-Phone run $20 each from Apple, but you can get them on E-bay for about $2 or less . I suppose that the devices that use this port may be expensive now, but that will change. Given the bandwidth and latency of Thunderbolt it will be hard for any existing technology to compete. Given that is runs basically at PCI Express speeds, even FireWire will have problems. Then add that you can connect a wide range of device types (Displays, Video Capture, Disk Drives, Raid Arrays, Network Adapters etc) to the same port and it's hard to see how even FireWire will make it. To be sure, FireWire will continue to see use in professional video/audio production equipment, but it's basically missed the consumer market in favor of USB.

USB Redux (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659641)

Is this going to be like USB with V1.0 ,the crippled version to meet a GSA spec? Then later in the year v2.0 ,the real thing. Then next year V3.0 with all of the bugs out.

schmuck (2)

ltwally (313043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659677)

Which is why it is interesting to hear Intel predict that 'a hundred' Thunderbolt devices are expected to be on the market by the end of the year.

Intel designed Thunderbolt in conjunction with Apple. Which probably means Intel did most of the leg-work on it. How exactly is it "interesting" that Intel is promoting something they invented?

Re:schmuck (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659927)

You can forgive us for being confused. The last time Intel did something like this they included it for free on all of their motherboards. By the time Microsoft finally got around to support it, most of the machines out there already had support for it.

None of that is happening this time around.

TB gets confused for an Apple-centric followup to Firewire because that's what it looks like on the surface.

Re:schmuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660071)

You have to read the sentence before it: "...the technology is far from mainstream outside of Apple products."

The summary mentioned Apple, and Apple is like the Christopher Walken of /. summaries - it appears in a million stories and it always steals the spot light.

So temporarily, Apple stole the spotlight and it was "interesting" that the story also featured Intel

what about video cards? AMD systems? servers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659747)

Now the big part will be how will pci-e video cards tie into the TB bus?

Why no add in TB cards?

What about AMD systems?

what about server boards most of them have on board low end video chips on the PCI 33 bus.

Re:what about video cards? AMD systems? servers? (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659963)

I believe there are at least announced ViDocks or similar products for Thunderbolt, so the TB -> PCIe adapters are already out there or on the way. I'm not sure why no add-in TB cards, although it might be due at least in part to needing a 4x slot or better to get the most out of it. AMD might be able to license it from Intel at some point, but I don't think they'll bother unless it catches on sufficiently. As for servers...I'm not sure what you mean here. Video cards aren't the only thing you can put on a TB bus. Servers might use it for high-speed storage in some cases.

What is it? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659765)

In short, it's a combination of both Mini DisplayPort and PCI Express, multiplexed together and demultiplexed at the reciever, but the controller is smart enough to maintain backwards compatibility with regular old displayport 1.2, so your MiniDP adapters will still work.

External GPU (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659869)

I've been dreaming about the possibility of connecting a beefy external GPU to a laptop and running things like Folding@Home on it. Why not other GPGPU stuff and games, too.

less speed then pci-e x4 cuts into EXT video cards (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660091)

less speed then pci-e x4 cuts into the video card data and will max out the bus to get data to the video card. And in the laptop only using on board video + TB will have 8 pci-e left over likely unused that is a much better fit for a video card.

DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1, Informative)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659885)

Thunderbolt will become famous for its potential for unauthorized access (DMA attack [wikipedia.org] ) and nothing else. Let's hope the media outcry will be heard far enough for everyone to disable these ports completely and for vendors to stop using them. These are difficult times for privacy and we do not need such ill-designed interfaces forced down our throats.

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660351)

Isn't PC Card and ExpressCard also vulnerable to this style attack?

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660509)

And Firewire.

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (3, Interesting)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660515)

No, they learnt from the old DMA Hacks on Firewire. Now Intel CPU's have an IOMMU to prevent those DMA attacks from succeeding. Whether a way to break that will be found in future remains to be seen.

If they do find a way to break it, then we are back to where we were before. Physical access always wins with hacking. DMA Attacks can be done via Firewire, thunderbolt, PCI, PCI express, PCMCIA, ExpressCard, etc... Basically anything that is connected to the bus. Yet we will still use it due to its performance/efficiency advantages, and the world will not end.

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660543)

If you are worried about this... you better disable your pci-express bus...

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660611)

Or your PCI bus

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660641)

Or your VESA bus, or your MCA bus, or your EISA bus. Or your firewire...

Re:DMA Attack - so sorry, Intel (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660663)

Don't we have a saying around here about having physical access to a device?

Do cables count? (1, Funny)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39659917)

As the drives don't ship with them, and there only seems to be one on the market right now ($50 from Apple), there's lots of room to say, make more than one length available, or maybe other manufacturers. I mean, they're active cables, so that should count as a 'device' right?

Then there's all the mini-DisplayPort adaptors now rebranding themselves as 'thunderbolt' adaptors ... so there's a couple dozen right there ... (VGA, DVI-D, DVI-DL, miniHDMI, etc .. and those are already available from more than one company).

See? I'm sure we can even get to 200 if we count it right.

Wow, Slashdotters have gotten stupid (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39659989)

Thuderbolt just extends the PCIe bus to external devices, with all the speed and flexibility that entails, no biggie, right? Sure, it means you really could get rid of all the other ports completely and use a breakout cable if necessary (only in the interim as other types of ports might just go away), making devices much smaller and simpler. But we don't want fantastic new things, we just want solid legacy support for 10 - 20 year old standards.

Really. All a geek should need to know is "externalize PCIe". All the speed of an internal bus (and more) without having to physically put the card into the machine, and even being able to do it at a distance. Greater modularity, better performance. But apparently it's bad to have newer, better things, when we could just stick with the older, crappier. Right?

Re:Wow, Slashdotters have gotten stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660219)

external video cards that you can plug into your laptop, siiick, imagine the possibilities for internet cafes. when you want to do some gaming rent a spot with a high end video card!

Re:Wow, Slashdotters have gotten stupid (-1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660243)

None of that is terribly interesting or compelling despite your mindless attempts at trying to elevate the newest shiny shiny above anything else.

It's not terribly interesting or compelling because most of us don't have to spend a bare minimum of $2400 just to get a basic expandable and future proof system.

I can already put a new GPU into an old PC and have it run circles around a current Mac.

As far as "legacy" goes. This thing is nothing but legacy. It's a new wrapper around all of the old legacy interfaces for those that can't interact with them directly.

You see "legacy". I see something that is standardized enough to be used with just about any machine still running.

Re:Wow, Slashdotters have gotten stupid (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660653)

You see "legacy". I see something that is standardized enough to be used with just about any machine still running.

Well said!

Those newer things need power right? (3, Insightful)

Marrow (195242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660349)

So by taking the stuff out of the computer, and putting it into other "stuff", we are going to create an explosion of soul-sucking, space-sucking, power-sucking transformers and cheap little crappy enclosures for externalized ports.
That is until some vendor says: "Hey, let me put all those external ports you need into one box for you!"
And then the next vendor says: "Hey, let me put those ports in the monitor for you"
And then the next vendor says: "Hey, my monitor and computer are the same box, so lets put it all back inside"
At that point we will be right back where we started, but will have spent tons of money we didnt need to spend.
And what happened to DisplayPort. Thats gotta be the shortest obsolescence cycle on record.

Re:Wow, Slashdotters have gotten stupid (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660743)

All a geek should need to know is "externalize PCIe". All the speed of an internal bus (and more) without having to physically put the card into the machine, and even being able to do it at a distance.

You left out "insanely expensive active cabling, safely locked up under patent for its entire realistic lifetime".

This will survive right up until people actually take notice, buy something using it, then shit a uranium brick when they go to buy a longer cord.

Yeah... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660081)

Baron Zemo said the same thing, then he sold the whole team out to S.H.I.E.L.D.

why wait for an off brand "ultrabook" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660149)

when you get the real thing, a macbook air, right now?

Computer Monitors as an attack vector? (2)

Tanman (90298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660227)

With direct pci access, how does this open up computer monitors as a new attack vector? I can see it now:

Step 1) Buy computer monitor
Step 2) Modify and return said monitor
Step 3) Someone plugs "open box" or "refurbished" monitor into their computer
Step 4) Profit!

Re:Computer Monitors as an attack vector? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660325)

Many keyboards already have USB ports on them, so there is no need to be so elaborate.

Re:Computer Monitors as an attack vector? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660599)

> Many keyboards already have USB ports on them, so there is no need to be so elaborate.

No. Not really.

The idea of plugging a mouse into your keyboard is very much a non-PC idea. A keyboard isn't going to have it's own hub unless it is made to be sold to Mac users. PC users simply are not used to plugging mice into their keyboard.

Quadrupling of design wins? (1)

QuincyDurant (943157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660347)

In January, Intel said 24 manufacturers embraced Thunderbolt, Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Seagate, Western Digital and LaCie among them.

Intel now says that the number of design wins will reach 100 this year.

http://www.wirelessdesignmag.com/ShowPR.aspx?PUBCODE=055&ACCT=0000100&ISSUE=1201&RELTYPE=CES&PRODCODE=000000&PRODLETT=IS&CommonCount=0 [wirelessdesignmag.com]

Wow! (0)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660365)

What a concept! Extending an internal bus to the outside of a computer to enable peripherals access.

(Turns around ancient 286 laptop and stares at the docking bus connector sticking out the back.)

The Hundreds of devices... (1)

jesseck (942036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39660623)

Will be new Apple computer, iDevices, and Intel notebooks. It won't be made by any other manufacturer than those two.

I thought Intel designed the USB spec. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39660629)

If Intel MADE USB why the hell are they competing with it? I see this going the firewire route.

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