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Thunderbolt, really?

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Michael Locke
Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 24, 2011 at 7:50:34 pm

Gentleman;

I'm more often in the field or traveling and therefore Apple laptop based. With your long-time industry perspective, should I be crazy excited about the new laptops connection. 10Gbps transfer? How long before connections/adapter are made (or will they?)? I ask here, where the data transfer pros reside...ML


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 24, 2011 at 8:31:45 pm

Promise, AJA, LaCie are already onto it - not sure how long before they actually ship something. It is a great piece of technology.

PCIe (and Express34/54) adapters for installation into existing laptops and desktops will arrive soon too.

Searching for "thunderbolt" in Apple store yields nothing but Promise rolled out a press release with their new Thunderbolt (shall we call it TB?) connectivity, to ship in Q2.

Alex
DV411


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Jon Schilling
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 24, 2011 at 8:53:56 pm

Promise starts shipping their 4 & 6 bay Storage in April, (pricing not yet set), interestingly enough it'll only be sold at the Apple Store, (I was told). Eventually all the peripheral manufacturers will have something, time will tell. So much for USB 3.0

Jon


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Michael Locke
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 24, 2011 at 9:14:24 pm

Thank you Alex, Jon.

Looks like my Macbook Pro will be on Ebay soon...ML


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Fred Jodry
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 26, 2011 at 4:55:06 pm

Why don`t you sell it here or in another good forum when the time comes instead of giving e-Bay a mandatory cut?


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Steve Modica
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 25, 2011 at 3:05:14 am

I'm pretty sure this is essentially PCIE 4X coming out in a port. So you can imagine ditching your expresscard/34 slot and connecting stuff with this. (but in a cabled fashion that you can daisy chain).

The PCIE protocol has always been a switched protocol.

Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 25, 2011 at 3:35:59 am

[Steve Modica] "I'm pretty sure this is essentially PCIE 4X coming out in a port"

That's what Intel says too on their "Example PC System Diagram" - but I can't figure out if the chip they are "making available to the industry" can be used to make a pure PCIe adapter, i.e. something you could stick in a 4x PCIe slot on a Mac Pro (or forgive me for this transgression: Z800) and have a ThunderBolt port (data only, I assume) on it.

It's the DisplayPort part of TBolt spec that worries me - if required, it may make such a PCIe-to-Tbolt adapter impossible as an add-on PCIe card.

Would you agree?

Alex
DV411


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Steve Modica
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 25, 2011 at 4:09:21 am

[Alex Geroulaitis] " but I can't figure out if the chip they are "making available to the industry" can be used to make a pure PCIe adapter, i.e. something you could stick in a 4x PCIe slot on a Mac Pro"

The sense of this is backwards. The cards "creates" a PCIE 4X slot. It wouldn't sit in one. It is a 4X slot (in the form of a plug). I don't know what the back end is (perhaps it bolts onto the northbridge directly).

Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 25, 2011 at 4:33:15 am

[Steve Modica] "The sense of this is backwards. The cards "creates" a PCIE 4X slot. It wouldn't sit in one. It is a 4X slot (in the form of a plug). I don't know what the back end is (perhaps it bolts onto the northbridge directly)."

Take a look at the Intel diagram I linked above (top of page 3). It shows TBolt being a 4x PCIe device sitting on top of Intel PCH that also plugs into the DisplayPort.

The other clue is that the data portion of TBolt spec is basically a 4x PCIe extender, with the addition of daisy-chaining and a few other things.

Alex
DV411


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Feb 27, 2011 at 10:27:45 pm

[Alex Geroulaitis] "PCIe (and Express34/54) adapters for installation into existing laptops and desktops will arrive soon too."

I was so wrong - nothing like it. TBolt will not be available as on add-on card - but on motherboards only - apparently because it's a combination interface (data and graphics) which is not feasible (or impossible) as an add-on card.

Alex
DV411


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John Heagy
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Mar 2, 2011 at 1:47:16 am

[Alex Geroulaitis] "TBolt will not be available as on add-on card"

Where did you learn this?


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Mar 2, 2011 at 1:59:43 am

Someone elsewhere on this forum linked this CNet live blog:
10:19 a.m. (Dong Ngo) : The cable is not backward compatible with USB 3.0. Also you won't be able to "upgrade" to this via add-in card. The only way to have it is getting a new computer/motherboard.

HTH
Alex
DV411


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Bob Zelin
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:02:42 pm

the one important thing to understand about Thunderbolt is that this is technology, no different than anything else that has ever come out (like SCSI on the original MAC). This is generation 1 of Thunderbolt. Which means that you have only 6 devices maximum, which includes the computers, drives, monitors, etc. AND with a 3 meter cable limit. So don't think you are building a big networks with this - it's right now similar to what SCSI once was when it first came out.

And yes - all your existing peripherals are not compatible - all AJA, Blackmagic, drive arrays, printers, scanners, etc, etc. all don't work.

And so you will rush out to buy Thunderbolt, and the next gen will come out (lets say 2012), and it will be newer, faster, better, cheaper, and incompatible with what you already have (or it will slow down if you use your existing gear). I am sure that ONE DAY (1 -2 years) there will be host adaptors, switches, hubs, etc, etc, but not today.

And you know exactly what will happen already - for the next 3 years, everyone will buy into this (and it will be great), and in 2014, something better (and incompatible) will come out, and we will all throw out our investments, and buy the "next thing".

This is day 1 of Thunderbolt/Lightpeak. It will get better, it will change, it will become more flexible, and you will continue to spend money on it (or something else) every few months - just like we always do.

But am I anxious to see the Pegasus from Promise in action - you bet I am .

Bob Zelin



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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:03:08 pm

[Bob Zelin] " the next gen ... will be ... incompatible with what you already have (or it will slow down if you use your existing gear)"

Bob is right on the money - as we have yet to see any TBolt devices or killer app that make it more than just another bus, or a simple evolution of purely laptop based connectivity.

That said, I doubt the next TBolt iteration will make the current one obsolete: that's not what happened to USB - and even SCSI - or HDMI. Because Thunderbolt is based on two protocols - PCIe and DP, there is no reason for future iterations to not be backward compatible, or to slow down with slower devices. PCIe is a switched bus, easily managing slower and faster devices.

Alex
DV411


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: Thunderbolt, really?
on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:05:38 pm

[Alex Geroulaitis] " I doubt the next TBolt iteration will make the current one obsolete: that's not what happened to USB - and even SCSI - or HDMI"

The issue however is not that the current version will become obsolete. It's that it's limited to motherboards with integrated graphics - i.e. laptops and entry-level nettops and desktops - basically making it unusable for heavy duty graphics applications - be it gaming, 4K editing or compositing.

Frankly I don't understand the logic behind combining DP and PCIe in Thunderbolt. Separating them will make for an easy implementation of Thunderbolt on any computer with a PCIe slot. Combining them - confines Thunderbolt to systems with integrated graphics.

Your (probably not inexpensive) Thunderbolt storage box or broadcast IO device will not be able to connect to your main editing system - only to your laptop. Does this make sense?

Did Intel and Apple really envision Thunderbolt as exclusively mobile and light duty computer interface?

Alex
DV411


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