Mac Pro - Light Peak backward compatibility

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lord-enzo, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. lord-enzo macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011

    we have been discussing this in the last threads about Mac Pro and Light Peak, but in the Intel page its written:

    "What is Thunderbolt technology and how does it work
    Developed by Intel (under the code name Light Peak), and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple. Thunderbolt technology is a new, high-speed, dual-protocol I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity, and flexibility. This high-speed data transfer technology features the following:

    •Dual-channel 10 Gbps per port
    •Dual-protocol (PCI Express* and DisplayPort*)
    •Compatible with existing DisplayPort devices
    •Daisy-chained devices
    •Electrical or optical cables
    •Low latency with highly accurate time synchronization
    •Uses native protocol software drivers
    •Power over cable for bus-powered devices

    This means then, that all devices with a Mini Display Port should be able to use the Thunderbolt technology. But if you continue reading the Intel Thunderbolt presentation page, you see that you need an specific chip integrated in your machine ¿?¿ WTF?

    Can anyone figure out something?

    I guess this is no problem actually, since surely there will be some PCIe cards to put in the expansion ports of our Mac Pros, but just to know if it is necessary to buy those cards or we can use our existing ports (in the Ati GPUs)
  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    That's not what it says. You need a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt will just happen to be the same plug as MDP.

    "Compatible with existing DisplayPort devices" means it works with Displayport monitors.
  3. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I think what that means is that the new ports work with existing DisplayPort-based peripherals, rather than the other way around.
  4. lord-enzo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    has its logic.....


    And about the PCIe card? what do you think?
  5. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yes. Light Peak is an extension of PCI Express, shouldn't be too hard to implement.

    I saw that it only requires a 4x bus, I think?
  6. lord-enzo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Yes, it shouldn't be hard... the thing is, would they? I'm very worried about all this high-end/pro disappointing decissions apple is taking in the last months....

    A "portable mac pro" is a perfect slogan for a lot of almost-pro hobbyists, but not really a pro. I wouldn't want to know that I cannot put thunderbolt in my 2010 mac pro... would be pretty sad
  7. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Same thing happened with FW800, came to the laptops first, nothing to worry about...

    Apple doesn't need to make the PCI Express card for Thunderbolt, and if history is any indication, they probably won't. Third parties should be able to implement a card relatively quickly.

    I would expect to see a minor Mac Pro refresh with Thunderbolt and a Radeon 6970 soon.
  8. lord-enzo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    has its logic too... I know they probably (more than probably) won't do the card themselves... But lately they've been so *?¿//%¿* with the Pro, you know... Let's hope for a card soon
  9. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Really? I can't imagine Apple doing anything but wait and add TB to the next Mac Pro refresh that will come with new SB Xeon's.
  10. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I don't see why not. Keeps the Mac Pro fresh, and avoids a situation in which the Mac Pro is the last machine to adopt TB, especially now that the Mac Pro is the server machine, and TB is going to be critical for server based storage (or video storage.)

    Combining that with other non-specific whispers I've heard (emphasis on non specific, I'm not Gruber), and I'd say we could see a minor Mac Pro bump soon.

    (Note: The above is a guess. Don't take me seriously for buying advice.)
  11. mjohnson1212 macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2007
    PCI Express card might not be coming after all.

    Quote from Appleinsider:
    "Thunderbolt ports can't be added to existing PCs via an expansion card; Intel says the only way to have it is to buy a system or logic board that incorporates the new Thunderbolt controller chip. That's because the Thunderbolt chip needs direct access to both the system's video and PCI Express architecture."
  12. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Interesting. It looks like they're mandating that you have to do both video and data, which would cause a problem.

    This is going to cause... interesting... graphics card complications.
  13. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Simultaneously that would mean that new Mac Pros need onboard graphics, cause I highly doubt that Nvidia or AMD are going to implement the miniDP-TB port on their cards in the near future.
  14. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yeah, this worries me.

    So here is the question... could Apple just add LP video output using the onboard video, add an PCI Express GPU, and then ignore the LP video output and just push it's use for data?

    This doesn't necessarily mean that Apple has to use LP for video output on the Mac Pros without making everyone use it for video as well.

    But this requirement does cause issues for expansion cards. If they allowed it to be used without carrying video, it would work perfectly on a PCI Express card.

    Edit: Another option is just making a card and strapping a low end video gpu on there.
  15. MyRumors macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2009
    I wonder how Apple will implement TB on MacPro,
    will it be on the gfxcard? so the data will go through the gfxcard?
    Or maybe they will separate it? Only displayport on gfxcard and only data support for TB on the machine IO ?
  16. cparktd macrumors member


    Mar 7, 2009
    Middle TN
    If it adds anything...
    As I am typing this on my new Quad Macbook Pro I have the display mirrored on my 47" LG HD TV via Mini display port to HDMI. # Apple employees in the store could not tell me if my existing adaptor would work or not. It Does, I did have to specify audio output in sound settings.
  17. thedarkhorse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2007
    So thunderbolt requires a GPU be built into the logic board? how is this supposed to hit mac pro and windows intel desktops(other than those with integrated graphics)? The only way they could maybe do it is if the graphics card integrated the TB port, but if we want front TB ports there needs to be some way of doing non-video TB.
  18. lord-enzo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    This is exactly what I meant... now, in the high end desktop of Apple, we have to decide, or a crappy GPU, or not all-new-fantastic-connection? This is ridiculous
  19. allupons macrumors member

    Mar 11, 2010
    This is insanely disappointing news if true. The entire point of a mac pro is expandability and upgrades. If I can't get thunderbolt on my 2010 6 core mac pro, that would be beyond disappointing as it appears to be the I/O of the future regarding raid arrays, externals, and capture... depressing...
  20. goMac, Feb 24, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011

    goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    It requires a GPU be built into the logic board. It doesn't require that you actually use that GPU.

    Important distinction.

    Edit: From what I'm reading, this could be specific to Intel's current single Thunderbolt chipset offering. The chip itself could require video.

    A third party chipset, or future Intel chipset, may not have the video requirement.

    Edit2: Also, to back this up, Intel would not comment on the possibility of introducing a laptop PCI card for Light Peak. I think this refers just specifically to Intel and Apple not planning to introduce a PCI Express card, but I'm not 100% sure.
  21. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yeah, this is what I'm thinking... It seems Intel is saying that they themselves have no plans for PCI Express cards, but there really isn't anything stopping one from building a card, especially in since Light Peak is basically an external 4X PCI Express bus.

    Note that the card pictured is an older variety of Light Peak... But Light Peak was originally built as a PCI Express card, no reason they could make one for the current version.
  22. Zobec macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2010
    This seems like a positive goMac, so would one say a high percent, perhaps 70-80% degree that this is possible with the current mac. But what you are saying is, it is left up to other manufactures to adopt and implement it, would you say this is correct?

    Would the above be similar to say, if one wants a SATA III port and it's capabilities in the current version of the macintosh computer one has to purchase a third party card that works in a mac?

    By this thought of progression one could perhaps have a SATA III compatible card such as the areca 1880 card and a light peak card installed on the same system?

    I enquire for this technology like the SSD drives, light peak appears very promising. And it is all in the future but for now, one would like to know where this technology stands with the current and past mac pros.
  23. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Wouldn't this be a case where Intel has the patents and simply doesn't want anyone selling add on cards so that they can make more money by selling brand new cpu's/chipsets?
  24. lord-enzo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    I'm with you... depressing is the word. I just bought my Mac Pro because of expandability, I wouldn't need to change my computer in a while

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