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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:26 PM   #1
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Fiber Optic Thunderbolt Cables Begin Mass Production, Available Up to 30m in Length




Intel has signed off on active fiber optic cables made by Sumitomo Electric Industries, the first of their kind to go into mass production.

The cables can be up to 30 meters (just under 100 feet) long, and provide full 10Gbps throughput with little performance degradation even when pinched by up to 180 degrees or tangled in knots. The cord is the same thickness as current standard Thunderbolt cables, but the connector size is slightly longer.

As ZDNet points out, these currently unpriced cables could be used to put Thunderbolt data storage devices like the Drobo 5D in a soundproofed closet, away from the host Mac.

There have been a number of reports about the development of fiber optic Thunderbolt cables over the past year, with no official timeline laid out for their availability. Pricing is also unknown, but given the more advanced active fiber technology in the cables, it's possible they could be significantly more expensive than current cables.

One significant difference between the optical cable and the metal is that the new optical Thunderbolt cables do not carry on-board power. Any devices connected with them, like smaller portable hard drives, need external power supplies to work. They cannot be bus-powered.

For those who already own a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, Intel notes that the existing Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with both copper and fiber optic cables, ensuring cross-compatibility once the new cables arrive.

Article Link: Fiber Optic Thunderbolt Cables Begin Mass Production, Available Up to 30m in Length
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:29 PM   #2
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Must cost $1 million
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:30 PM   #3
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30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dwalls90 View Post
30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.
I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems. Follow my train of thought.

Imagine a new Mac Pro (or even Mac Mini server), a smaller form factor akin to the ill-fated G4 Cube. Perhaps it has 2 PCIe slots, 2-3 internal SATA III bays, 1-2 Xeon (or Core i7) processors, RAM, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 connections (Ethernet, et al). Place the unit in a closet, and run a fiber optic Thunderbolt cable to a workstation for display(s) and HIDs. A graphics box and more devices can be attached via copper Thunderbolt cables for bus support.

You have a nice, small yet powerful system tucked away and out of sight.

...and it'll cost

$100 BILLION DOLLARS

(apologies, couldn't resist)
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:41 PM   #5
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Def add some flexibility to setup options. Great news as far as I can see, price permitting.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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Step 2 is now complete. Now that fibre is available, it's time to bump up the speeds.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems. Follow my train of thought...
video and audio studios, when the whirl of a single fan in a hotter than hell RAID enclosure effects playback/monitoring performance. you get to keep the physical studio interfaces and connections (i.e. to ProTools interfaces) in the control room, and the computer, hard drives, etc. in a sound proofed remote room.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by herocero View Post
video and audio studios, when the whirl of a single fan in a hotter than hell RAID enclosure effects playback/monitoring performance. you get to keep the physical studio interfaces and connections (i.e. to ProTools interfaces) in the control room, and the computer, hard drives, etc. in a sound proofed remote room.
Excellent example, makes perfect sense
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by herocero View Post
video and audio studios, when the whirl of a single fan in a hotter than hell RAID enclosure effects playback/monitoring performance. you get to keep the physical studio interfaces and connections (i.e. to ProTools interfaces) in the control room, and the computer, hard drives, etc. in a sound proofed remote room.
We all know where Apple stands when it comes to the Pro market
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:45 PM   #10
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I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems.
Those of us who have to deal with server rooms on a regular basis can tell you noise from a peripheral is not a consideration - the places are already bloody loud.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:10 PM   #11
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Those of us who have to deal with server rooms on a regular basis can tell you noise from a peripheral is not a consideration - the places are already bloody loud.
Again, I am referring to the Mac Pro (server processors/work station setup), as in my example. Data centers are not what my example illustrated. Apologies for the confusion.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 08:52 PM   #12
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Those of us who have to deal with server rooms on a regular basis can tell you noise from a peripheral is not a consideration - the places are already bloody loud.
Could mean cheaper DAS/SAN devices with 10Gb interfaces. I know we just spent an arm and a leg upgrading to 10Gb for our SAN/BladeCenter.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmwebs View Post
The only time I can see it being useful is for read/write to disks, but even then, there's a very tiny usage market for writing at 10gbps that needs to be done 30 meters away from the server.
If they made a DAS/SAN chassis with it, it might be cheaper than 10GbE. Also copper TB has a max distance of 3 meters. Your storage could be in a second rack making 3 meters too short.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:54 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems.
Not in datacenters it wouldnt.

Generally you'll just have your servers racked up with power and ethernet - you dont need anything else.

In MOST cases you'll never hook monitors up to a server, and if you do it'll be from a crummy onboard gfx card (most likely VGA as well) for terminal use only.

Really all the thunderbolt port is doing is changing your options from plugging a ~$50 VGA monitor along with a $2 keyboard directly into the server (so 2 ports) to just 1 thunderbolt, going into an expensive hub.

Really not worth it.

Heck some places I've seen dont even have onboard graphics, and instead just have drivers for USB graphics cards that get plugged in when someone cant access the server via remote console.

---

I assume you may have been talking about the Mac Pro server market, in which case it's still going to be the same situation (in 90% of cases, you never, ever should work directly on the server).

The only time I can see it being useful is for read/write to disks, but even then, there's a very tiny usage market for writing at 10gbps that needs to be done 30 meters away from the server.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by rmwebs View Post
Not in datacenters it wouldnt.

Generally you'll just have your servers racked up with power and ethernet - you dont need anything else.

In MOST cases you'll never hook monitors up to a server, and if you do it'll be from a crummy onboard gfx card (most likely VGA as well) for terminal use only.

Really all the thunderbolt port is doing is changing your options from plugging a ~$50 VGA monitor along with a $2 keyboard directly into the server (so 2 ports) to just 1 thunderbolt, going into an expensive hub.

Really not worth it.

Heck some places I've seen dont even have onboard graphics, and instead just have drivers for USB graphics cards that get plugged in when someone cant access the server via remote console.

---

I assume you may have been talking about the Mac Pro server market, in which case it's still going to be the same situation (in 90% of cases, you never, ever should work directly on the server).

The only time I can see it being useful is for read/write to disks, but even then, there's a very tiny usage market for writing at 10gbps that needs to be done 30 meters away from the server.
Yet, data centers weren't mentioned. Home workstations/servers was the example I, and others, gave.

How would this not be beneficial given the setup I described? As others have stated, placing a noisy, cumbersome system when film editing or simply needing the space tucked away makes perfect sense. I did mention a graphics box connected via Thunderbolt and other devices using the copper wiring, the fiber optics cable would be best suited running a long distance to the workstation - hence the 30m length mentioned in the article. Since a Mac Pro utilizes server grade processors, and one does work directly on a Mac Pro, I don't know what you mean by stating 90% of the time you wouldn't work directly on a server. My apologies for the confusion, I meant in regards to a Mac Mini or Mac Pro setup.

If you're using a corporate server based situation, this is not the example being discussed

Last edited by bedifferent; Dec 31, 2012 at 03:12 PM.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:28 PM   #15
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if you have to ask "why?", then it's not for you

Having 100 cables lengths means professional multi-room installations are no longer hampered by length-restricted consumer cables like HDMI, USB, Firewire, etc. For example, in a recording studio, the computers and terabytes of storage are typically in a separate sound proof machine room, then there are monitors and keyboards in the control room where the engineer sits, and more monitors and more USB inputs in the tracking room where the artist (e.g. in film the artists need to see whats on the screen). The distances between the rooms are typically more than USB and HDMI will go, so in the past you end up with repeaters, or converting to ethernet and then back to USB/HDMI, or whatever. Now you can just put a thunderbolt USB/HDMI doc in each room, connected with a 100' thunderbolt cable - easy, and reliable, and compared to the alternatives, cheap.

If you just have a hard drive sitting next to your iMac, then no, this isn't for you.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 06:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmwebs View Post
Not in datacenters it wouldnt.
A "datacenter" means different things to different people. Just based on that fact your position is highly debatable.
Quote:
Generally you'll just have your servers racked up with power and ethernet - you dont need anything else.
Again that depends. Hooking directly to a storage array is not unheard of.
[/Quote]
In MOST cases you'll never hook monitors up to a server, and if you do it'll be from a crummy onboard gfx card (most likely VGA as well) for terminal use only.
[/Quote]
Which is at times highly questionable. A good GUI can be valuable in maintaining a server, especially if it is serving non traditional usage. This attitude that all you need is a terminal interface is usually supported by people with a vested need in protecting their jobs
Quote:
Really all the thunderbolt port is doing is changing your options from plugging a ~$50 VGA monitor along with a $2 keyboard directly into the server (so 2 ports) to just 1 thunderbolt, going into an expensive hub.
A gross over simplification.
Quote:
Really not worth it.
Again debatable. What if that data center is involved in movie production and the PC we are talking about is the cluster controller? If it is a small studio access to the cluster through a GUImight be a big advantage.
Quote:
Heck some places I've seen dont even have onboard graphics, and instead just have drivers for USB graphics cards that get plugged in when someone cant access the server via remote console.

---
There are certainly cases where that makes sense
Quote:
I assume you may have been talking about the Mac Pro server market, in which case it's still going to be the same situation (in 90% of cases, you never, ever should work directly on the server).
Again debatable.
Quote:
The only time I can see it being useful is for read/write to disks, but even then, there's a very tiny usage market for writing at 10gbps that needs to be done 30 meters away from the server.
I do think you are a little narrow in your thinking there.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:16 PM   #17
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The MAC Pro chasis is so beautiful that I would rather put it ahead of me

Quote:
Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems. Follow my train of thought.

Imagine a new Mac Pro (or even Mac Mini server), a smaller form factor akin to the ill-fated G4 Cube. Perhaps it has 2 PCIe slots, 2-3 internal SATA III bays, 1-2 Xeon (or Core i7) processors, RAM, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 connections (Ethernet, et al). Place the unit in a closet, and run a fiber optic Thunderbolt cable to a workstation for display(s) and HIDs. A graphics box and more devices can be attached via copper Thunderbolt cables for bus support.

You have a nice, small yet powerful system tucked away and out of sight.

...and it'll cost

$100 BILLION DOLLARS

(apologies, couldn't resist)
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 04:40 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bedifferent View Post
Imagine a new Mac Pro (or even Mac Mini server), a smaller form factor akin to the ill-fated G4 Cube. Perhaps it has 2 PCIe slots, 2-3 internal SATA III bays, 1-2 Xeon (or Core i7) processors, RAM, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 connections (Ethernet, et al). Place the unit in a closet, and run a fiber optic Thunderbolt cable to a workstation for display(s) and HIDs. A graphics box and more devices can be attached via copper Thunderbolt cables for bus support.
Note that a current 2P Xeon chipset has 24 times the PCIe bandwidth of a T-Bolt channel.

T-Bolt as you describe would make a nice Display/HID extender, but the real work would be better done inside the chassis.
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Old Jan 1, 2013, 03:39 AM   #19
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I imagine it would be best suited for server based systems. Follow my train of thought.
Except that Apple seems to have given up on that market... and maybe even pro-users in general.

In fact, I'm not really sure what Apple is going to do with this connector, seeing as they seem to be letting it go the way of the dodo (I mean FW 800).
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Old Jan 1, 2013, 04:01 AM   #20
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Except that Apple seems to have given up on that market... and maybe even pro-users in general.

In fact, I'm not really sure what Apple is going to do with this connector, seeing as they seem to be letting it go the way of the dodo (I mean FW 800).
I don't think Apple has given up on the Pro Market, OR the server market. Lots of users are using Mac Mini and Mac Pro systems as servers. The XServe is another story though. But regardless, though the Mac Pro doesn't always have the latest flashy features, it remains the de facto standard as a high performance creative professional platform, and I think Apple is keeping that market happy.

As far as thunderbolt, it's barely been two years, way too early to call this one. However, I think the issue with FireWire (remember, Apple was ALSO an initial/early adopter of USB. As I recall, they were the FIRST to use USB, and a big issue back then was all of the peripherals were Mac only and were expensive and limited, because unless you had the fancy new iMac or colorful Power Mac, you didn't have USB) was that it never really took off in the PC market. In fact, FW400 caught on in the PC World much better than FW800 did, despite it's performance advantages. Thunderbolt, I think, will be more a part of the PC marketplace than FireWire was.

But, remember, Thunderbolt, like FW800, is a high performance I/O system that is primarily used for storage. Being married to display port allows it to work for displays, but, other than that the primary use is going to be high speed storage. For your typical user the speed of USB 3.0 is MORE than enough. I think Thunderbolt will be a product that is going to be popular on mobile platforms (for docking stations, and, I hope, for external graphics and things like that), but more importantly, popular in professional, workstation, and server environments. Calling it dead is like calling FibreChannel or bridged gigabit network connections dead because the typical Best Buy consumer market doesn't use it. Well, it's not meant for them anyway. It's a high performance connection for high performance needs. (Though, FibreChannel is as good as dead now with thunderbolt, just as soon as Intel Xeon processors become compatible with thunderbolt...)

I really, truly think where thunderbolt is really going to take off is going to be the server market. When server level motherboards and CPUs start implementing thunderbolt, I can see servers and storage arrays connected with thunderbolt, and then connected with their clients with ethernet, similar to the way FC is used now. Thunderbolt will give them a tremendous boost in performance, and be an excellent solution for load balancing and utilizing high speed disks. As it is now, a FibreChannel controller can be well over a grand, and the cables are pricey too. There's no reason not to replace it with thunderbolt once the technology is available.
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Old Jan 1, 2013, 09:33 AM   #21
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In fact, I'm not really sure what Apple is going to do with this connector, seeing as they seem to be letting it go the way of the dodo (I mean FW 800).
ha I've always loved that phrase, and yes, I agree (sadly)
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:04 PM   #22
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30m .. why? Lol

That's 100 feet.

Because of "noise"? #FirstWorldProblems ... mechanical HDD's are hardly annoying, and SSD is the future especially for thunderbolt.
If multiple machines/people need to use the same piece of equipment, they could put the equipment in a central control room and have them all connected to it from separate rooms. I've seen edit suites do this with decks and firewire. Firewire has a length limit though, so it had to be converted to cat5 and then go through a patch bay.
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 02:41 PM   #23
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Great. How much?
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:34 PM   #24
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"For those who already own a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, Intel notes that the existing Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with both copper and fiber optic cables, ensuring cross-compatibility once the new cables arrive."

Does that mean there are optical transceivers already in the Macs with TB ports? Didn't think they did.

Or is the copper to optical hardware inside the optical TB cables?

Either way, that would be great not to have to have new hardware for it.


THIS may let me buy a 27" iMac for my home. I keep my Mac, printer, external drives, etc in my office and run a long DVI cable to a monitor in my living room. Keeps the noise level down.

With this I could keep an iMac in my living room and run the optical TB cable to my office and be in good shape. I dred to think how much a 50' optical TB cable might be though... ::shudder::
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Old Dec 31, 2012, 03:53 PM   #25
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"For those who already own a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, Intel notes that the existing Thunderbolt ports will be compatible with both copper and fiber optic cables, ensuring cross-compatibility once the new cables arrive."

Does that mean there are optical transceivers already in the Macs with TB ports? Didn't think they did.

Or is the copper to optical hardware inside the optical TB cables?

Either way, that would be great not to have to have new hardware for it.


THIS may let me buy a 27" iMac for my home. I keep my Mac, printer, external drives, etc in my office and run a long DVI cable to a monitor in my living room. Keeps the noise level down.

With this I could keep an iMac in my living room and run the optical TB cable to my office and be in good shape. I dred to think how much a 50' optical TB cable might be though... ::shudder::
Optical transceivers in the cable. Making it none to cheap, I'm sure.
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