Intel Details Thunderbolt Spec: New Chips Coming Next Year, But What About Fiber Optic Cables?

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    This is my next reports on an Intel presentation at IDF yesterday detailing specifications for the Thunderbolt connectivity standard, demonstrating the company's commitment to the platform. The presentation reveals a long list of details on the standard, including the use of a Mini DisplayPort-compatible plug as found on Apple's Thunderbolt-enabled Mac models, officially disapproving of Sony's plans to utilize USB as the connector for Thunderbolt.


    The report notes that Thunderbolt cable lengths are currently limited to three meters due to their reliance on electrical connections. Thunderbolt, which began under the codename "Light Peak", was originally intended to offer fiber optic cables, but Intel is continuing to work on that technology to bring it to consumers. The company is apparently planning to make fiber optic Thunderbolt cables available beginning next year, but they will run at the same speeds as with the current copper wire cables.
    IDG News takes an opposing view based on an interview with Intel executive Dadi Perlmutter, seeing optical cables as still being years away from being competitive with the copper cables.
    Meanwhile, Intel continues to advance the technology used in its controller chips for Thunderbolt, planning for the successors to its four-channel Light Ridge chip used in the MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac and its scaled-down two-channel Eagle Ridge chip used in the MacBook Air. According to AnandTech, Intel's 2012 Thunderbolt chip is known as Cactus Ridge, and will also be offered in four-channel and two-channel versions. No details on pricing or other improvements have yet been disclosed, but the Intel is said to be planning to offer Cactus Ridge in packages measuring in as 12 mm by 12 mm.

    Article Link: Intel Details Thunderbolt Spec: New Chips Coming Next Year, But What About Fiber Optic Cables?
  2. macrumors 603

    Aug 29, 2008
  3. macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    What I don't like about this whole thunderbolt idea is that the connection for a monitor is in the mix, and the macs (except the iMac) don't have more than 1 connection.

    This presents a problem if you're trying to attach a hard drive or some other future device, and from what I read a display has to be last in the chain, so you need to plug it thru an external drive case if you have one...

    IMO they should have left the displayport alone, and just created separate thunderbolt connector.
  4. macrumors 6502


    Mar 30, 2009
    How come the official spec is for 1 display + 6 devices and the macbook pros and iMacs (maybe mac mini too?) can do 6 devices + 2 displays?
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    how big is the current?
  6. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    There's no need to have fiber at the same as copper, when copper can provide power.
  7. macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2010
    Display has to be last in the chain only in the case it is not a thunderbolt compatible display. Otherwise - you can daisy chain devices behind your display.

    For this reason - I really do like the fact it is combined together with the display cable, because now display can be a docking station for a laptop.
  8. macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Well then they should just add 2 thunderbolt ports. How is 1 thunderbolt + 1 display port better than that?
  9. macrumors 6502

    cult hero

    Jun 6, 2005
    Thank goodness they're ditching USB-style connections...

    USB has got to be the worst design for a connector ever as far as the shape. There's no easy way to see which way the thing should be inserted. I don't even care if it's Apple's standard that's adopted so long as it's a standard where I can simply look and see which way the cable should be inserted.

    (Oh, and Firewire 800 also deserves similar mention as a poorly designed connection type.)
  10. macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2002
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    It's probably because it's dual channel. 6+1 per channel. The second channel is probably all DisplayPort.
  11. macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    A thunderbolt display can fit anywhere in the chain. However a non-thunderbolt display has to be at the end for one very good reason... there is no second thunderbolt port to chain from. So the input can go in, but how do you get the next device to connect.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Mar 26, 2008
    I think Displayport/Thunderbolt is a bit too square, personally. I think we need a trapezoidal connector, something with pins, maybe 9 or so. They can be arranged in two rows, one with five pins, the other with four....
  13. macrumors member


    Aug 16, 2007
    I'm not seeing your problem... just daisy chain the devices you want together. If you are right and the display has to be last then what is wrong with that? The idea is that the performance won't be noticeably affected even with multiple devices connected to the same thunderbolt port. It's plug n' play so unplugging your monitor to add a device is not a problem.

    Also, if you will notice the MBPs and iMacs still have firewire 800 ports. As thunderbolt becomes more widely adopted I can see apple phasing out firewire and adding another thunderbolt port in it's place.
  14. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Thunderbolt devices currently are fairly heavy desktop RAIDs. How many of those are you moving around?

    Mac Mini has HDMI port + Thunderbolt
  15. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    Hopefully the big Thunderbolt push at IDF will dispel the myth that Thunderbolt is proprietary to Apple, and help it take off. The more PC manufacturers adopt this, the more likely we'll see some good products produced to take advantage of the port.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2011
    Nice. This confirms everything we already knew. I could have sworn Intel already told us all of this, but oh well.
  17. macrumors 603

    Mar 10, 2009
    Competitive in short distance speed at low cost. Competitive in distance..... it is no contest. Copper isn't even in the game.

    If primarily concerned with adding a docking station and an external drive on your desk. Copper has lots of advantages. However, if trying to displace usage of FW in longer haul distances ( 50-100m ) they'll need the optical options. I think the "opposition" comments are about when/if optical could replace copper as the default/mainstream cable. Yeah, that is many years out. But there really isn't a conflict when have different objectives.
  18. macrumors 601


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I want to see Wireless Thunderbolt. I see it in nature all the time.
  19. macrumors 603

    Mar 10, 2009
    No, it is 6 TB devices total on all the chains (implicitly the primary host comptuer makes the 7th). You can have a DP dangling on the end.

    TB is an aggregator. You're not gonig to have lots of aggregators on a chain. One, they tend to be more expensive so not going to buy many. Two, if are expensive high bandwidth devices you'll run out of bandwidth.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2005
    So will the Thunderbird chip be native with Ivy Bridge?
  21. Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    Agree 100%. This opens the possibility of a user accidentally using a Mini DisplayPort cable instead of a Thunderbolt cable to try to connect a hard drive or whatever. Sure, there are markings on the cable, but markings often wear off. It's always best to change the physical connection (unless you are able to use the exact same physical wires, like from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0).
  22. macrumors 603

    Mar 10, 2009
    Probably will be Apple's explanation when they nuke FW ports in some future designs. See two is better than one. ( legacy problem? .. buy that $90 FW dongle. )
  23. macrumors P6


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
  24. macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
  25. macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2011
    How is the 2 channel version going to work? No bi directional or no displayport?

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