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MacRumors
Jul 29, 2011, 09:02 AM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/29/new-macbook-air-using-scaled-down-thunderbolt-chip/)


http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2011/07/macbook_air_2011_eagle_ridge.jpg


Portion of MacBook Air motherboard with Eagle Ridge chip outlined in teal (Source: iFixit (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Air-13-Inch-Mid-2011-Teardown/6130/1))
AnandTech takes a look (http://www.anandtech.com/show/4542/eagle-ridge-the-cheaper-optionally-smaller-thunderbolt-controller) at the Thunderbolt controller used by Apple in the new MacBook Air, finding that the company has opted to use a scaled-down "Eagle Ridge" controller chip from Intel instead of the "Light Ridge" chip found in larger Thunderbolt-enabled machines.[Light Ridge] features four Thunderbolt channels (4 x 10Gbps bidirectional = 80Gbps aggregate bandwidth) and up to two DisplayPort outputs. It's used in the 2011 iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini. ...

Eagle Ridge is available in two form factors (normal and SFF [small form factor]) and is effectively half of a Light Ridge chip. That means you only get two Thunderbolt channels and one DP output. Apple used the small form factor version of Eagle Ridge in its new MacBook Air to cut cost and save on motherboard real estate.With Eagle Ridge only supporting a single DisplayPort output, MacBook Air users are only able to drive a single external display via the Thunderbolt port, although the machine's integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 would also preclude the use of two external monitors on the MacBook Air as it does on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt adoption has thus far been limited to high-end devices (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/06/24/airplay-and-thunderbolt-may-be-limited-to-high-end-devices-to-start/) in part due to high costs associated with inclusion of the technology. Use of the scaled-down Eagle Ridge controller could help push Thunderbolt into lower-end products, presuming that the smaller chip carries some cost savings for manufacturers.

Article Link: New MacBook Air Using Scaled-Down Thunderbolt Chip (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/29/new-macbook-air-using-scaled-down-thunderbolt-chip/)



slrandall
Jul 29, 2011, 09:07 AM
Lower-cost TB external drives would be great for MBAs, and are especially welcome with the news of the Air-like MBPs.

DrJohnnyN
Jul 29, 2011, 09:07 AM
Boom.

"Anandtech’s report also notes that the MacBook Air’s cheaper chip is likely to be the one used by PC makers who are making machines traditionally less expensive than those from Apple."

wjlafrance
Jul 29, 2011, 09:11 AM
I'm not sure where they're getting their information that the 13" MBP can't drive dual displays, but I was driving dual monitors on my Dimension 2400 with an MX4000 (http://www.amazon.com/eVGA-GeForce4-MX4000-128-GPU/dp/B0001OZ2N0) too long ago to remember. For perspective, that's the card that was in the original iMac G5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_G5#iMac_G5).. 7 years ago.

To boot, I drive an external display at work five days a week, and can drive the internal display at the same time. If I close the lid, I have to drive just as many pixels with dual external displays - totally feasible.

Akzel
Jul 29, 2011, 09:11 AM
I was more enthusiastic about this Air refresh (I have the previous generation with the 320M GPU), but every day there's a piece of news about how it's not sooo amazing as expected: Different SSD models ("did you get the fast one?"), integrated GPU "almost as good" as nVidia offer, and now a thunderbolt port that's, let's face it, crippled down compared to other Macs.

RichardBeer
Jul 29, 2011, 09:12 AM
Does this mean that the speed is possibly lower as well?

igazza
Jul 29, 2011, 09:13 AM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

DrJohnnyN
Jul 29, 2011, 09:15 AM
Does this mean that the speed is possibly lower as well?

According to CultofMac.com: "The scaled down Thunderbolt chip used in the new MacBook Airs, however, is named Eagle Ridge, and features only two Thunderbolt channels ó meaning itís half as fast ó with support for just one external display."

Duke15
Jul 29, 2011, 09:15 AM
They should make that information available to someone buying a mba, not that its a deal breaker but comon that's kinda cheap

diamond.g
Jul 29, 2011, 09:17 AM
If the full size chip can have 4 channels, why are we limited to 6 devices per port?

BornAgainMac
Jul 29, 2011, 09:18 AM
Thunder...Thunder...Thunderbolt. Every time I hear that name I think of a cartoon. I hope it survives.

Vol7ron
Jul 29, 2011, 09:23 AM
Woah there.....

First off, this is about the Macbook Air, not the Macbook Pro. The Air has considerably less room inside of it then the Pro model does.

Second, this really doesn't mean that it is crippled. It just means that can only have one extra display hooked up to it. Kinda like how the previous Air models were and the previous iMac and MacBook Pro models were before Thunderbolt came a long.

This is first generation technology. It will get refined and i bet that we will see the quad channels eventually.

My question to you is, how are you going to use 4GB of bandwidth per second? Only my VMware ESXi servers use dual 10G fiber cards. I mean, that is a lot of data moving back and forth. Most people would never come even close to utilizing that much bandwidth. So to say that the device is crippled is ridiculous....

Chupa Chupa
Jul 29, 2011, 09:23 AM
They should make that information available to someone buying a mba, not that its a deal breaker but comon that's kinda cheap

Is Apple withholding this information? The MBA tech specs page states it can support "an external display" (note singular). So I'm under what your qualm is here.

hstewart
Jul 29, 2011, 09:24 AM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

A simple solution - somebody make a Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter, my guess it possible a single Thunderbolt channel could possibly drive 2 USB 3.0 ports - not sure if can combine 2 USB 2.0 ports on one channel.

basesloaded190
Jul 29, 2011, 09:27 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

Thunderbolt is not supposed to replace USB 3.0, it's meant to supplement it. Thunderbolt has so many more capabilities compared to USB.

justinfreid
Jul 29, 2011, 09:28 AM
This seems like reasonable product differentiation to me.
Besides, only a small minority of users will ever drive 2 external displays from their laptop.

hstewart
Jul 29, 2011, 09:29 AM
My guess the new Mac Mini's also have the Eagle version. But specs state it supports dual display - most likely one on Thunderbolt and one on HDMI port.

solgae
Jul 29, 2011, 09:30 AM
According to CultofMac.com: "The scaled down Thunderbolt chip used in the new MacBook Airs, however, is named Eagle Ridge, and features only two Thunderbolt channels ó meaning itís half as fast ó with support for just one external display."

This doesn't mean you have half the bandwidth available for Eagle Ridge - you still have bidirectional 10Gbps interface for both Eagle Ridge (MBA version of thunderbolt) and Light Ridge (MBP/iMac version of thunderbolt). It only means Eagle Ridge has one displayport interface for external display as opposed to two on Light Ridge. If you look at the anandtech's test result with the Pegasus array, you'll see that both MBA and MBP perform practically the same.

hstewart
Jul 29, 2011, 09:30 AM
This seems like reasonable product differentiation to me.
Besides, only a small minority of users will ever drive 2 external displays from their laptop.

I am part of the minority, for work I have Lenova that drives 2 24in monitors for development - one off DVI and other other one off VGA - laptop display is not being use in this configuration.

activ8
Jul 29, 2011, 09:31 AM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

I can only connect 1 monitor to my MBA? That's okay. I'll just buy a big ass monitor! Problem solved.

RogerWilco
Jul 29, 2011, 09:34 AM
Is that really a DIP switch on the lower left side of the board? Talk about wasting space...

DrJohnnyN
Jul 29, 2011, 09:34 AM
This doesn't mean you have half the bandwidth available for Eagle Ridge - you still have bidirectional 10Gbps interface for both Eagle Ridge (MBA version of thunderbolt) and Light Ridge (MBP/iMac version of thunderbolt). It only means Eagle Ridge has one displayport interface for external display as opposed to two on Light Ridge. If you look at the anandtech's test result with the Pegasus array, you'll see that both MBA and MBP perform practically the same.

Ah, I see. Sorry, I only dabble in tech, and don't know all the ins and outs.

Riemann Zeta
Jul 29, 2011, 09:35 AM
These 'thunderbolt' ports and controllers are only somewhat pricey because they are a new introduction. Now that Intel has ditched the "light" part of its original "Light Peak" specification (at one point, 'light peak' ports were going to be optical in nature), they should be just as cheap as any other port eventually.

Hattig
Jul 29, 2011, 09:38 AM
If the full size chip can have 4 channels, why are we limited to 6 devices per port?

It's an addressing issue rather than a bandwidth issue. That seems to be the addressing limit per port, for some reason.

In reality the bigger controller allows two display outputs to go over a single ThunderBolt connection, whereas the smaller one allows only one display output. The bigger controller can drive two physical ThunderBolt output ports, but Apple chooses to only implement one. They use the bigger controller to allow two monitors to be chained off that single ThunderBolt port.

HD3000 can't do it (naff Intel graphics) and there's no discrete option, so why use the big controller on the Air? The port has the same bandwidth however as the smaller controller has everything needed to drive a single port.

paradox00
Jul 29, 2011, 09:38 AM
Two bi directional 10 Gbps lanes per port is whats indicated in the Thunderbolt spec. I think it's more appropriate to say that the "Light Ridge" chips are scaled up (or capable of supporting two ports) rather than the "Eagle Ridge" chips are scaled down (capable of supporting one port). Funny how a change in wording could completely change how something like this is perceived.

japanime
Jul 29, 2011, 09:40 AM
So, you're telling me that my budget-priced $999 MacBook Air is using a budget component as opposed to a higher-end component found in higher-priced models?

How is this news?

TripHop
Jul 29, 2011, 09:43 AM
My guess the new Mac Mini's also have the Eagle version. But specs state it supports dual display - most likely one on Thunderbolt and one on HDMI port.It says right there in the article that Mac Mini uses Light Ridge so you might want to guess about something that isn't documented as the opposite of your guess right in the article. Mini supports 3 monitors - two front the Thunderbolt and a third from the HDMI.

troop231
Jul 29, 2011, 09:44 AM
Is that really a DIP switch on the lower left side of the board? Talk about wasting space...

If you're talking about the white thing, I don't think that's a DIP switch. No reason for a DIP switch on a laptop logic board if the configuration will never change. It may be some kind of connector though.

Arcadie
Jul 29, 2011, 09:46 AM
According to CultofMac.com: "The scaled down Thunderbolt chip used in the new MacBook Airs, however, is named Eagle Ridge, and features only two Thunderbolt channels ó meaning itís half as fast ó with support for just one external display."

No not half as fast, half as much bandwidth...

If you have 1 external HDD connected to them for example, the speed will be the same on both chips.

Its if you have multiple devices that a possible slowdown will occur. But how many TB devices do u plan on attaching to an air? a display and HDD? thats only 2 devices, you will not notice any difference.

ovrlrd
Jul 29, 2011, 09:47 AM
I was more enthusiastic about this Air refresh (I have the previous generation with the 320M GPU), but every day there's a piece of news about how it's not sooo amazing as expected: Different SSD models ("did you get the fast one?"), integrated GPU "almost as good" as nVidia offer, and now a thunderbolt port that's, let's face it, crippled down compared to other Macs.

To me it just sounds like you are trying to make yourself feel better about having a previous generation. There is nothing wrong with doing that mental justification if it helps you, but the reality it is still a fantastic update to the MBA line.

The GPU thing is unavoidable due to licensing, and while the HD 3000 isn't as impressive on paper, it still performs well enough. The simple fact is that nobody is going to be doing high-end GPU work on the MBA because of battery constraints. Gaming has always been a "bonus" achievement, and never a requirement.

The different SSD models is the most overrated debate ever, there is absolutely no practical difference between the two drives, and the only people upset are people who run benchmarks all day long to inflate their ego.

Finally, this news about the Thunderbolt chip, you need to understand that this is not a gimped Thunderbolt, or less powerful. It still does the 10Gbps requirement of Thunderbolt, and that is all that really matters. You aren't going to be daisy chaining 5 devices that can make use of 100% of the bandwidth on the MBA. It's simply just not a situation that would ever happen. Having 2 channels at 10Gbps means that you can drive one display, plus any number of devices that could use up to 20Gbps (thats a TON) of bandwidth. To put that into perspective, you would need ~2000 Blu-rays running at the exact same time to saturate that kind of bandwidth. That's an insane amount of bandwidth, and the fact that you think it's "gimped" is hilarious.

mbh
Jul 29, 2011, 09:49 AM
Is that really a DIP switch on the lower left side of the board? Talk about wasting space...

It's the SD card slot connector.

justinfreid
Jul 29, 2011, 09:49 AM
Is that really a DIP switch on the lower left side of the board? Talk about wasting space...

The white, rectangular, maze-containing component, whatever it is, is not a collection of DIP switches. I've asked the iFixit community to figure out its purpose.

UPDATE Looked at the underside of the logic board and the pictures of the MacBook Air on Apple.com: the component I described above, and that you mentioned, is the bottom of the SD card reader. It does look funky.

nagromme
Jul 29, 2011, 09:50 AM
That’s OK... when my Air needs 3 screens, I’ll use my iPad as the third. (I’ve heard that works, but haven’t tried it: I bought an app that makes the iPad to decently as a second screen with my old Air, for my email or palettes; but have not tested using a REAL screen for the third. I will have to try that with my next Air!)

Eidorian
Jul 29, 2011, 09:50 AM
HardMac picked up on this a little while ago. There goes our ambitions that it was already onboard the PCH.

Stetrain
Jul 29, 2011, 09:52 AM
So is the chip in the Macbook Pros only being half utilized? It seems like the Light Ridge chip is capable of driving two full bandwidth Thunderbolt ports. If there's only one port all you should need is the Eagle Ridge chip.

polaris20
Jul 29, 2011, 09:53 AM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

Can USB 3.0 drive monitors, run at 10Gbps, and not require the host's CPU?

tbobmccoy
Jul 29, 2011, 09:56 AM
Thatís OK... when my Air needs 3 screens, Iíll use my iPad as the third. (Iíve heard that works, but havenít tried it: I bought an app that makes the iPad to decently as a second screen with my old Air, for my email or palettes; but have not tested using a REAL screen for the third. I will have to try that with my next Air!)

It's unfortunate that air display is bugged with lion or this would be a great method :(

al2o3cr
Jul 29, 2011, 09:58 AM
If you're talking about the white thing, I don't think that's a DIP switch. No reason for a DIP switch on a laptop logic board if the configuration will never change. It may be some kind of connector though.

It's the SD card slot's contacts...

hayesk
Jul 29, 2011, 10:00 AM
So is the chip in the Macbook Pros only being half utilized? It seems like the Light Ridge chip is capable of driving two full bandwidth Thunderbolt ports. If there's only one port all you should need is the Eagle Ridge chip.

No, you connect the second display to the first. It's daisy-chaining.

Duncanreally
Jul 29, 2011, 10:01 AM
I'm not sure where they're getting their information that the 13" MBP can't drive dual displays, but I was driving dual monitors on my Dimension 2400 with an MX4000 (http://www.amazon.com/eVGA-GeForce4-MX4000-128-GPU/dp/B0001OZ2N0) too long ago to remember. For perspective, that's the card that was in the original iMac G5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_G5#iMac_G5).. 7 years ago.

To boot, I drive an external display at work five days a week, and can drive the internal display at the same time. If I close the lid, I have to drive just as many pixels with dual external displays - totally feasible.

You can drive a low res display plus a high res display, but not two high res displays (e.g. two 27" external Apple Cinema Displays at their native resolution).

lesiu
Jul 29, 2011, 10:04 AM
A simple solution - somebody make a Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter, my guess it possible a single Thunderbolt channel could possibly drive 2 USB 3.0 ports - not sure if can combine 2 USB 2.0 ports on one channel.

Sounds good (the bandwidth equation at PHY level seems fine )
but have some doubts at technical implementation level:

=> this is not a simple task as there is significant processing power required
to shake 10Gbps data at transport/logical levels.
(=> additional controller/processor/buffer/memory required => $$$)

=> I have not seen any USB peripherals using 2 ports to increase bandwidth,
guess it is due to USB topology (tree), so such adapter will be only able
to stall +50% of the Thunderbolt traffic ... :|
(or an additional logical/transport 'USB over Thunderbolt'
layers handling is required to handle 2 separate USB 3.0 'channels':
I guess not currently implemented in any OS)

=> such adapter will require additional power provided from USB 'host' side
(powering is not a Thunderbolt feature as far as I understood),
means the USB 'ends' need to have 'host' functionality:
this is not a case of most of the USB 3.0 peripherals to be connected ..

Conclusion :
The cost and complexity of such adapter would axe benefits
of using available or(/and) more affordable USB3 peripherals ..

drewyboy
Jul 29, 2011, 10:06 AM
These 'thunderbolt' ports and controllers are only somewhat pricey because they are a new introduction. Now that Intel has ditched the "light" part of its original "Light Peak" specification (at one point, 'light peak' ports were going to be optical in nature), they should be just as cheap as any other port eventually.

They can and will use optical. It WILL be compatible with current TB ports on all macs. You ask, how do you know? It's be cuz of the chips at the ends of TB cables, which is part of the beauty that tb is. Cable length can change which requires different chips on the cable, cable can change from copper to optical and only need different chips on the cable. This was just plain smart. So, in closing, current TB ports on mac will work with optical and varying lengths of cable because all the special hardware needed is the chips which is included on the cable!

Edit: it's why no matter what, we won't see these cables going for ~$1-2, at least not for years when TB is old hat

ctdonath
Jul 29, 2011, 10:08 AM
"Teal"?

jclardy
Jul 29, 2011, 10:11 AM
I'm not sure where they're getting their information that the 13" MBP can't drive dual displays, but I was driving dual monitors on my Dimension 2400 with an MX4000 (http://www.amazon.com/eVGA-GeForce4-MX4000-128-GPU/dp/B0001OZ2N0) too long ago to remember. For perspective, that's the card that was in the original iMac G5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_G5#iMac_G5).. 7 years ago.

To boot, I drive an external display at work five days a week, and can drive the internal display at the same time. If I close the lid, I have to drive just as many pixels with dual external displays - totally feasible.

Two external displays...along with the internal one. So Like having two Apple thunderbolt displays and the MBA display.

silentnite
Jul 29, 2011, 10:18 AM
I hope this thunderbolt takes flight soon because I'm just starting to see a lot of USB 3.0 at my local Best Buy & Wal-Mart

G4DP
Jul 29, 2011, 10:18 AM
Thunder...Thunder...Thunderbolt. Every time I hear that name I think of a cartoon. I hope it survives.

Thunderpants Ho!

Seems they like hiding little bits of information secret doesn't it. Now for a general user, not a deal breaker, for someone who wants to get best bang for buck they sure it damn difficult.

ZipZap
Jul 29, 2011, 10:24 AM
Still limitations should be revealed when Apple knows the default assumption will be different.

Lets see what they put in the MBA 15...as that might just turn out to be dream laptop.

Oh, and the whole cutting cost perspective is BS. They make a huge profit on every single item they sell.

gnasher729
Jul 29, 2011, 10:26 AM
According to CultofMac.com: "The scaled down Thunderbolt chip used in the new MacBook Airs, however, is named Eagle Ridge, and features only two Thunderbolt channels ó meaning itís half as fast ó with support for just one external display."

Which is of course totally stupid and means they don't know what they are talking about. Light Ridge has two channels connecting to one port, and another two channels connecting to a second port. Eagle ridge has two channels connecting to one port. So the MBA has one port that is exactly as fast as one on a MBP, but the second port is missing.

And you can connect two monitors as long as you have one monitor that acts as a hub, like the new Thunderbolt monitor that Apple starts selling soon. You just can't plug one monitor into one port and a second monitor into the second port, because there is no second port.

res1233
Jul 29, 2011, 10:32 AM
I'm not sure where they're getting their information that the 13" MBP can't drive dual displays, but I was driving dual monitors on my Dimension 2400 with an MX4000 (http://www.amazon.com/eVGA-GeForce4-MX4000-128-GPU/dp/B0001OZ2N0) too long ago to remember. For perspective, that's the card that was in the original iMac G5 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_G5#iMac_G5).. 7 years ago.

To boot, I drive an external display at work five days a week, and can drive the internal display at the same time. If I close the lid, I have to drive just as many pixels with dual external displays - totally feasible.

Do you know what resolution means?

Lesser Evets
Jul 29, 2011, 10:34 AM
Crikey.

I love the possibilities Thunderbolt delivers... just waiting for an economical reality to complete the consumer technology. It will be a year before Thunderbolt drives and other peripherals finally take over the market and provide somewhat reasonable prices.

retrorichie
Jul 29, 2011, 10:40 AM
So I am a little bit confused by this. Do we expect that the Thunderbolt implementation in the MBA can drive both the pegasus raid and one TB display without a problem?

RogerWilco
Jul 29, 2011, 10:42 AM
The white, rectangular, maze-containing component, whatever it is, is not a collection of DIP switches. I've asked the iFixit community to figure out its purpose.

UPDATE Looked at the underside of the logic board and the pictures of the MacBook Air on Apple.com: the component I described above, and that you mentioned, is the bottom of the SD card reader. It does look funky.

OK, that makes sense, and thanks for checking. What look like switch rockers are probably spring-loaded contacts for the pads on the SD card.

troop231
Jul 29, 2011, 10:54 AM
It's the SD card slot's contacts...

I know...

xcsnine
Jul 29, 2011, 11:17 AM
It's pretty funny how it seems like EVERYONE thinks 10gb means gigaBYTES. It's 10 Gb (gigaBITS) per second which means 1.125 GB (gigBYTES) per second. 10 sounds like a lot more than 1.125 (since everyone is used to gigaBYTES). Thunderbolt is a reasonable idea but the proprietary usage is going to kill the technology.

theluggage
Jul 29, 2011, 11:26 AM
The controller on the Air only supports 2 Thunderbolt channels
The controller on the Air only supports a single, external DisplayPort device

The disadvantages of this being:

The Air can only support a single Thunderbolt port (a Thunderbolt port supports 2 channels)
The Air can only drive a single external display (in addition to the internal one)

Which are completely moot because:

The Air has only got a single Thunderbolt port, so 2 more channels would be as much use as a chocolate teapot.
The integrated graphics in the Air can only handle a single external display anyway, so supporting a second Displayport channel would be like fitting an ashtray to a motorbike.


So, in conclusion, using the cheaper controller has no effect whatsoever on the performance or expandability of the Air.

Have I got it right?

RogerWilco
Jul 29, 2011, 11:30 AM
It's pretty funny how it seems like EVERYONE thinks 10gb means gigaBYTES. It's 10 Gb (gigaBITS) per second which means 1.125 GB (gigBYTES) per second. 10 sounds like a lot more than 1.125 (since everyone is used to gigaBYTES). Thunderbolt is a reasonable idea but the proprietary usage is going to kill the technology.

The bandwidth over fiber is much higher. If/when intel fleshes out the TB spec and provides optical bridge chips, the speed will exceed anything else available today.

jamesryanbell
Jul 29, 2011, 11:35 AM
It's pretty funny how it seems like EVERYONE thinks 10gb means gigaBYTES. It's 10 Gb (gigaBITS) per second which means 1.125 GB (gigBYTES) per second. 10 sounds like a lot more than 1.125 (since everyone is used to gigaBYTES). Thunderbolt is a reasonable idea but the proprietary usage is going to kill the technology.

Why don't they use use gigaBYTES and just rate it at 1.125GB/sec?

Everything should be standardized in some way.

It's like that MBA rumor a while back about 400Gbit transfer rates on SSDs (about 3 weeks or so ago I think). Then there's this big discussion on what gigabits vs gigabytes and how fast that really was.

Unnecessary confusion to me.

jamesryanbell
Jul 29, 2011, 11:36 AM
The bandwidth over fiber is much higher. If/when intel fleshes out the TB spec and provides optical bridge chips, the speed will exceed anything else available today.

But how far down the pipe is that?

3+ years?

(realistically)

paradox00
Jul 29, 2011, 11:57 AM
The controller on the Air only supports 2 Thunderbolt channels
The controller on the Air only supports a single, external DisplayPort device

The disadvantages of this being:

The Air can only support a single Thunderbolt port (a Thunderbolt port supports 2 channels)
The Air can only drive a single external display (in addition to the internal one)

Which are completely moot because:

The Air has only got a single Thunderbolt port, so 2 more channels would be as much use as a chocolate teapot.
The integrated graphics in the Air can only handle a single external display anyway, so supporting a second Displayport channel would be like fitting an ashtray to a motorbike.


So, in conclusion, using the cheaper controller has no effect whatsoever on the performance or expandability of the Air.

Have I got it right?

Yeah, you've covered it quite well.

RogerWilco
Jul 29, 2011, 12:15 PM
But how far down the pipe is that?

3+ years?

(realistically)

Apple's next round of hardware upgrades (January?) will have intel's latest chip sets with USB 3.0 and TB. I expect there will be fiber optic TB cables available (for a price) at that time. Don't forget the original name for TB was LightPeak.

peteitude
Jul 29, 2011, 12:21 PM
So... 30"+ LED Cinema Display? let's go apple!

KPOM
Jul 29, 2011, 12:28 PM
I was more enthusiastic about this Air refresh (I have the previous generation with the 320M GPU), but every day there's a piece of news about how it's not sooo amazing as expected: Different SSD models ("did you get the fast one?"), integrated GPU "almost as good" as nVidia offer, and now a thunderbolt port that's, let's face it, crippled down compared to other Macs.

I think you are being hard to please. The SSDs are no different from the ones that are in your 2010. You probably have the Toshiba drive, but if you bought your 2010 model in the last 6 months, there's also a possibility you have the Samsung drive.

The HD 3000 graphics were a known issue, and there's nothing Apple could do about it since Intel refused to license NVIDIA chipsets for the Sandy Bridge, and NVIDIA left the chipset business.

Your 2010 MacBook Air lacks Thunderbolt entirely, so even the cheaper part still is better than what is in yours. They found a way to get the port in there, and the HD 3000 can't drive more than 1 external display, anyway (nor could the 320m) so why put in a port that can drive more than that?

jlc1978
Jul 29, 2011, 12:29 PM
Oh, and the whole cutting cost perspective is BS.

Not really. It's the reason:

They make a huge profit on every single item they sell.

Shaving a few cents here and there as you design adds up.

klamse25
Jul 29, 2011, 12:42 PM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

Agreed!

wovel
Jul 29, 2011, 01:35 PM
Why don't they use use gigaBYTES and just rate it at 1.125GB/sec?

Everything should be standardized in some way.

It's like that MBA rumor a while back about 400Gbit transfer rates on SSDs (about 3 weeks or so ago I think). Then there's this big discussion on what gigabits vs gigabytes and how fast that really was.

Unnecessary confusion to me.

There is a standard...

zen.state
Jul 29, 2011, 01:55 PM
This is what happens when engineers put gimmickry before performance.

But hey.. you can fit it in an envelope right? :rolleyes:

*LTD*
Jul 29, 2011, 02:21 PM
This is what happens when engineers put gimmickry before performance.

But hey.. you can fit it in an envelope right? :rolleyes:

That's kinda the point of the MacBook Air.

We aren't looking for blazing fast performance here. Mostly because the majority don't actually need all that. The MBA is reasonably fast already and fits quite a lot into its slim form.

paradox00
Jul 29, 2011, 02:28 PM
This is what happens when engineers put gimmickry before performance.

But hey.. you can fit it in an envelope right? :rolleyes:

This is what happens when people don't understand the topic at hand.

The performance is identical to what you'd get from the larger chip, through one Thunderbolt port with Intel integrated graphics onboard.

milo
Jul 29, 2011, 03:19 PM
Oh, and the whole cutting cost perspective is BS.

Cost might be part of it but I suspect bigger factors are power consumption and size.

ovrlrd
Jul 29, 2011, 03:30 PM
Why don't they use use gigaBYTES and just rate it at 1.125GB/sec?

Everything should be standardized in some way.

It's like that MBA rumor a while back about 400Gbit transfer rates on SSDs (about 3 weeks or so ago I think). Then there's this big discussion on what gigabits vs gigabytes and how fast that really was.

Unnecessary confusion to me.

It is standard practice to measure bandwidth in bits. Besides, if you really can't divide a number by 8 then you have bigger problems on your hand.

fat jez
Jul 29, 2011, 03:44 PM
Why don't they use use gigaBYTES and just rate it at 1.125GB/sec?

Everything should be standardized in some way.

Because it's a serial connection. Serial is measured in bits per second, parallel in bytes per second. Hence why SATA is 1.5/3/6Gbps and not 150/300/600 MB/sec :)

Saturn007
Jul 29, 2011, 04:21 PM
Does this mean that the NSA's situation room--or NASA's Houston Space Flight Center--with their scores of monitors--cannot be run from a single MBA?

I'm definitely not buying one, if that's the case!

SirHaakon
Jul 29, 2011, 04:43 PM
The simple fact is that nobody is going to be doing high-end GPU work on the MBA because of battery constraints.
If only we had some way to plug a MBA into the wall... :(

Sugadaddy
Jul 29, 2011, 05:09 PM
Hey Intel, how about integrating USB3 in your chipsets instead of trying to force Thunderbolt on people when nobody wants it.

Thunderbolt makes sense for Apple since they were already using DisplayPort, but nobody else is gonna use it.

SirHaakon
Jul 29, 2011, 05:14 PM
Hey Intel, how about integrating USB3 in your chipsets instead of trying to force Thunderbolt on people when nobody wants it.

Thunderbolt makes sense for Apple since they were already using DisplayPort, but nobody else is gonna use it.
Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3; who would want that over TB now that TB is out?

Stop speaking for the rest of humanity when your own arguments aren't even logical.

Ries
Jul 29, 2011, 05:41 PM
Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3; who would want that over TB now that TB is out?

Stop speaking for the rest of humanity when your own arguments aren't even logical.

firewire was also faster than usb, thats why we all have firewire now.... no wait...

SirHaakon
Jul 29, 2011, 05:45 PM
firewire was also faster than usb, thats why we all have firewire now.... no wait...
Pretty sure FW is still on every Mac being made (except the air which has zero ports anyway). Even the little Mac Mini gets it. In fact, they even tried to take it away from the Macbook and had to put it back in because too many people complained. FW800 is a lot more consistent than USB2; I don't see a basis for your argument... unless you're a PC user.

Mac32
Jul 29, 2011, 05:55 PM
Pretty sure FW is still on every Mac being made (except the air which has zero ports anyway). Even the little Mac Mini gets it. In fact, they even tried to take it away from the Macbook and had to put it back in because too many people complained. FW800 is a lot more consistent than USB2; I don't see a basis for your argument... unless you're a PC user.

Have you heard about USB (2/3) memory sticks...? :rolleyes: That's why we NEED usb3 on macs

Ubuntu
Jul 29, 2011, 06:00 PM
Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3; who would want that over TB now that TB is out?

Stop speaking for the rest of humanity when your own arguments aren't even logical.

You think his argument isn't logical? As opposed to what? Apple choosing once again to focus on a technology that has a chance of being the industry standard while pretty much stifling its chances at the same time? Have you seen the price of the Thunderbolt cable on the Apple store? And the price of the current hardware? Its too much for too much for a lot of people. I'd like a faster interface than USB 2.0 that is more popular than Firewire. I'd happily take USB3 over Thunderbolt because in five years you'll probably end up paying a heftier premium on thunderbolt products than you do now on firewire products. USB 3 sounds wonderful at this point.

Ries
Jul 29, 2011, 06:08 PM
Pretty sure FW is still on every Mac being made (except the air which has zero ports anyway). Even the little Mac Mini gets it. In fact, they even tried to take it away from the Macbook and had to put it back in because too many people complained. FW800 is a lot more consistent than USB2; I don't see a basis for your argument... unless you're a PC user.

What good is a firewire port if you don't have any devices. All my friends, mac or pc, own usb devices (mouse, keyboard, webcams, memory sticks, readers, hard drives), not firewire. What good does a firewire hard drive if i can't bring it over to my PC friend.

SirHaakon
Jul 29, 2011, 06:11 PM
You think his argument isn't logical? As opposed to what? Apple choosing once again to focus on a technology that has a chance of being the industry standard while pretty much stifling its chances at the same time? Have you seen the price of the Thunderbolt cable on the Apple store? And the price of the current hardware? Its too much for too much for a lot of people. I'd like a faster interface than USB 2.0 that is more popular than Firewire. I'd happily take USB3 over Thunderbolt because in five years you'll probably end up paying a heftier premium on thunderbolt products than you do now on firewire products. USB 3 sounds wonderful at this point.
I could see your point if Apple's choice was inferior. However, just like Thunderbolt is to USB 3.0, Firewire800 was/is superior to USB 2.0. The cables don't cost any more than USB and the drives are just as cheap. It's not even a proprietary solution. All of this is true with Thunderbolt, too. Sure, it's expensive right now but it has barely come out. In a couple of years it won't even be a discussion. There is definitely still a place for USB; it's useful for things like keyboards and mice and even little thumb drives that can't utilize the higher bandwidth. All the new macs still support that - that hasn't changed. The point is that as a primary bus, you want the fastest, most accommodating pipeline available. That's thunderbolt, not USB3. And I realize that it doesn't really exist in the PC market yet, but this is Mac rumors, not beige box rumors.

SirHaakon
Jul 29, 2011, 06:13 PM
What good is a firewire port if you don't have any devices. All my friends, mac or pc, own usb devices (mouse, keyboard, webcams, memory sticks, readers, hard drives), not firewire. What good does a firewire hard drive if i can't bring it over to my PC friend.
I just addressed this in my reply to the Ubuntu guy, but you don't need USB 3 for any of the stuff you just mentioned. And every Mac still ships with plenty of USB 2 ports, so you're just fine.

iExpensive
Jul 29, 2011, 06:45 PM
The controller on the Air only supports 2 Thunderbolt channels
The controller on the Air only supports a single, external DisplayPort device

The disadvantages of this being:

The Air can only support a single Thunderbolt port (a Thunderbolt port supports 2 channels)
The Air can only drive a single external display (in addition to the internal one)

Which are completely moot because:

The Air has only got a single Thunderbolt port, so 2 more channels would be as much use as a chocolate teapot.
The integrated graphics in the Air can only handle a single external display anyway, so supporting a second Displayport channel would be like fitting an ashtray to a motorbike.


So, in conclusion, using the cheaper controller has no effect whatsoever on the performance or expandability of the Air.

Have I got it right?
You sir, are a wizard! :D

spydr
Jul 29, 2011, 07:31 PM
Does this mean that the speed is possibly lower as well?
It has 2 x 10 Gbps instead of 4 x 10 Gbps, so yes half the bandwidth, but I am guessing you will have to push more than 20 Gbps to notice speed difference.

winston1236
Jul 29, 2011, 07:51 PM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap.

sure if the biggest file you transfer is a microsoft word document

subsonix
Jul 29, 2011, 08:27 PM
This chip would still, give full speed of the current generation of Thunderbolt, which is 10Gb/s if I'm not missing something here. Meaning that the chip in the other models have potential to deliver at higher speeds when that becomes available?

http://www.intel.com/technology/io/thunderbolt/index.htm

colour
Jul 29, 2011, 10:23 PM
apple failed life !!!!

it was somewhat justifiable in the highest end macbook pros and imacs but apple have too much pride to admit that usb 3 was a better option in consumer products.

fgts

JordanNZ
Jul 30, 2011, 03:26 AM
apple failed life !!!!

it was somewhat justifiable in the highest end macbook pros and imacs but apple have too much pride to admit that usb 3 was a better option in consumer products.

fgts

Macs will get USB3 when intel starts using it in their chipsets.

You're still going to need that displayport output anyway.. Why not make it thunderbolt?

JordanNZ
Jul 30, 2011, 03:28 AM
It has 2 x 10 Gbps instead of 4 x 10 Gbps, so yes half the bandwidth, but I am guessing you will have to push more than 20 Gbps to notice speed difference.

It's no slower than the current implementation, because there is only one port.

brdeveloper
Jul 30, 2011, 06:45 AM
I could see your point if Apple's choice was inferior. However, just like Thunderbolt is to USB 3.0, Firewire800 was/is superior to USB 2.0. The cables don't cost any more than USB and the drives are just as cheap. It's not even a proprietary solution. All of this is true with Thunderbolt, too. Sure, it's expensive right now but it has barely come out. In a couple of years it won't even be a discussion. There is definitely still a place for USB; it's useful for things like keyboards and mice and even little thumb drives that can't utilize the higher bandwidth. All the new macs still support that - that hasn't changed. The point is that as a primary bus, you want the fastest, most accommodating pipeline available. That's thunderbolt, not USB3. And I realize that it doesn't really exist in the PC market yet, but this is Mac rumors, not beige box rumors.

Drives are just as cheap? Where? I'd love to buy a Lacie FW800 for my Mac but I ended up buying a cheaper and larger USB 2.0 drive. TB is following the same path: it's a niche interface, but is it a killer solution comparing to USB 3? I mean in practical terms like transferring data from/to external backup storage. The current hard disk speeds would fit very well in USB 3. That would be enough for me and the majority of home users.

drsmithy
Jul 30, 2011, 08:38 AM
This seems like reasonable product differentiation to me.
Besides, only a small minority of users will ever drive 2 external displays from their laptop.

Anyone who currently has two monitors attached to a desktop PC, is someone who would similarly like to hang two monitors off a laptop.

It blows my mind they'd cripple the Air by not supporting two external screens, when it's probably the single biggest benefit Thunderbolt offers the average Apple laptop user.

HD3000 can't do it (naff Intel graphics) [...]

Integrated Intel graphics in PC laptops could drive multiple 24" external displays 3+ years ago. Seems odd they couldn't do it today...

I have to say this is really disappointing news. I was planning on buying one until now, but a single external display is a showstopper. :(

adder7712
Jul 30, 2011, 10:27 AM
Thunderbolt is so overrated. Apple should adopt USB3.0 asap. How is it overrated if it's inherently superior. Thunderbolt is underrated at best.

theluggage
Jul 31, 2011, 05:45 AM
Anyone who currently has two monitors attached to a desktop PC, is someone who would similarly like to hang two monitors off a laptop.

I have always used two monitors on a desktop PC where possible, but with a laptop I find one external monitor plus the laptop display is pretty much equivalent. Especially if the external display is a 27" job!

Also, anyone who decides to replace a desktop PC with a laptop is probably going to be looking at a MacBook Pro, not an Air - although an Air + a Thunderbolt display looks like a potentially nice set-up.

theluggage
Jul 31, 2011, 06:29 AM
How is it overrated if it's inherently superior. Thunderbolt is underrated at best.

Thunderbolt and USB3 are not even rivals really. Thunderbolt isn't a USB replacement: it is more a replacement for PCIe and ExpressCard slots. Heck, it may even become a way of adding USB3 to a Mac.

The first TB products have, unsurprisingly, been for high-end RAID arrays and video capture devices aimed at video professionals who, currently, are stuck with MacPros or 17" MBPs because they need to plug stuff into a PCIe or ExpressCard slot (Prediction: next release of 17" Macbook Pro to drop the ExpressCard slot and replace it with SD or maybe even a second TB).

The Apple Thunderbolt Display is an example of something else TB is good for (its a pity Apple didn't announce this alongside TB) - 27" display, USB Hub, Sound system, FW800 port, GB Ethernet port, Webcam and TB daisychain all through a single TB cable.

Sonnet have announced external TB boxes that can take PCIe cards (admittedly, not suitable for graphics cards that use multiple PCIe lanes).

I doubt that we'll ever see Thunderbolt mice, Thunderbolt memory sticks, Thunderbolt SD card readers - or even cheap, domestic Thunderbolt backup drives.

If TB is to be successful outside of the "pro" arena, we'll need to see more "docking station" type products (a box with FW800, USB, Ethernet, eSata without having to buy a Cinema Display would be nice).

AidenShaw
Jul 31, 2011, 09:51 AM
Sonnet have announced external TB boxes that can take PCIe cards (admittedly, not suitable for graphics cards that use multiple PCIe lanes).

I doubt that we'll ever see Thunderbolt mice, Thunderbolt memory sticks, Thunderbolt SD card readers - or even cheap, domestic Thunderbolt backup drives.

If TB is to be successful outside of the "pro" arena, we'll need to see more "docking station" type products (a box with FW800, USB, Ethernet, eSata without having to buy a Cinema Display would be nice).

Actually, the Sonnet Echo Express (http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/index.html) *is* suitable and designed for graphics cards - the full length model even has 150w and the auxiliary power connector for PCIe x16 graphics cards that need supplemental power.

There are PCIe x1 graphics cards on the market - these are fine for many tasks that just need more screen real-estate or 2D graphics.

What it wouldn't be suitable for is heavy 3D gaming or work that requires massive transfers of textures between main RAM and the VRAM. It would be fine for driving extra displays for added real estate. Depending on the ratio of GPU load and memory bandwidth, it may even be suitable for CUDA or other GPGPU loads.

It would also be a big upgrade from the integrated graphics - even on a PCIe x4 link.

Agree completely with your other two comments - no TBolt mice and the future is TBolt breakout boxes. (In fact, the Sonnet boxes are do-it-yourself breakout boxes, but you'll quickly run out of daisy chain room with them.)

KnightWRX
Jul 31, 2011, 10:15 AM
The integrated graphics in the Air can only handle a single external display anyway, so supporting a second Displayport channel would be like fitting an ashtray to a motorbike.


I don't know why people tell you you're spot on when this quip is completely wrong. 10 year old GPUs with much less VRAM can handle multi-monitor support, the MBA absolutely can.

justinfreid
Jul 31, 2011, 12:33 PM
OK, that makes sense, and thanks for checking. What look like switch rockers are probably spring-loaded contacts for the pads on the SD card.

Exactly.

justinfreid
Jul 31, 2011, 12:38 PM
Anyone who currently has two monitors attached to a desktop PC, is someone who would similarly like to hang two monitors off a laptop.

It blows my mind they'd cripple the Air by not supporting two external screens, when it's probably the single biggest benefit Thunderbolt offers the average Apple laptop user.


They'd then have a total of three displays, what you said speaks to my point that it's a reasonable compromise given the size of the Air, even if choosing the lesser ThunderBolt chip is a matter of cutting cost and not because of technical constraints, since most people accept a total of two displays as being enough.

cozmot
Jul 31, 2011, 10:22 PM
I was more enthusiastic about this Air refresh (I have the previous generation with the 320M GPU), but every day there's a piece of news about how it's not sooo amazing as expected: Different SSD models ("did you get the fast one?"), integrated GPU "almost as good" as nVidia offer, and now a thunderbolt port that's, let's face it, crippled down compared to other Macs.

Seriously, you are so right. I was fortunate and by the luck of the draw got the faster Samsung SSD on my refreshed MacBook Air. All of us who bought the refreshed MBAs are screwed though. Less capability than a freaking Mac Mini? Really? What bad tricks Apple is playing on its customers. What next? As a fanboy, I'm beginning to think that Apple is becoming rotten to the core.

theluggage
Aug 1, 2011, 04:50 AM
I don't know why people tell you you're spot on when this quip is completely wrong. 10 year old GPUs with much less VRAM can handle multi-monitor support, the MBA absolutely can.

The Intel HD graphics in the Air does indeed have dual monitor support.

However, what you are proposing is one internal display + two external monitors = three displays. Intel HD graphics does not support that - see http://www.intel.com/support/graphics/sb/CS-031040.htm#11

(...and while that link talks of physically connecting 3 and only having two active, that's the sort of trick you can pull on a system with multiple connectors for HDMI/VGA etc. its unclear whether the two active monitors could both be DisplayPort)

The same is true of the 13" MacBookPro which also relies on Intel's on-chip graphics (I haven't seen any reports of that having the 'lite' thunderbolt controller). The 15" and 17" MBPs can support 3 displays because they have a Radeon discrete graphics chip.

Also, the only monitor that currently supports Thunderbolt/DisplayPort daisy-chaining is the 27" 2560x1440 running one of those plus the internal display is probably more than enough for the HD graphics.

drsmithy
Aug 2, 2011, 02:51 AM
They'd then have a total of three displays [...]

The Intel HD graphics in the Air does indeed have dual monitor support.

However, what you are proposing is one internal display + two external monitors = three displays.

I would vastly prefer two external screens and the internal screen disabled, to a single external + the internal.

In the latter scenario I am always welded to the tidgy internal screen. In the former I can hook up a couple of 27"s if I want to, for much more [usable] screen space.