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Re: Pretty amazing Thunderbolt demo.

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Walter Soyka
Re: Pretty amazing Thunderbolt demo.
on Jan 20, 2012 at 4:48:32 pm

Very cool demo!

Once again, this makes it clear that many of us have different needs and thus different definitions of "power."

Some need massive throughput -- doable with TB on an Air.

Others need massive compute power -- doable with a "24 sizzle core beast." (Jeremy, this is my new favorite expression!)

Some niche within a niche needs both.

I'm glad we all have so many options to meet our needs, and I hope that continues to be the case for a long time to come.

All that said, let's put Thunderbolt in perspective: Thunderbolt's big advantage is not its absolute speed. There are faster interconnects. The thing that makes Thunderbolt very special is that it's external (so you can expand outside the case and make it work on itty bitty laptops), while being relatively cheap and relatively fast.


[Jeremy Garchow] "That's the thing. you wouldn't need a whole new computer with it's own OS and infrastructure, you'd just plug in and double your CPU."

This is really, really speculative. I'd argue that suggesting that Thunderbolt will be capable of this kind of expansion is very premature.

Thunderbolt is DisplayPort plus PCIe. It is a not a CPU interconnect. There are no PCIe cards that allow you to just plug a card in to add a CPU. This simply doesn't reflect current computer architecture.

Intel's multiprocessing uses a separate high-speed CPU bus, unrelated to the expansion bus. The current interconnect is called QuickPath, and it runs at 25.6 GB/s (that's a capital B for bytes) on 3.2 GHz processors. This is way faster than Thunderbolt at 10 Gb/s. (Incidentally, this is why the Core i7 cannot be configured in a multi-processor configuration. It doesn't implement QPI.)

Looking at the end of Thunderbolt's roadmap and suggesting it'd be fast enough to be a good CPU interconnect presupposes that there will be no further advancement in CPUs or dedicated CPU interconnects like QuickPath in the interim. I don't think that's realistic. The rest of the computing industry is not standing still while Thunderbolt develops.

That said, Thunderbolt could make a nice cluster interconnect, but clustering is not the same as just plugging in and doubling your CPU.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
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