Only Connect: A Thunderbolt of innovation

intel-thunderbolt.jpgWelcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.

News of a revolution on high speed data and video connectivity. From the company with the fastest processors comes the fastest way to get information in and out of your PC and peripheral devices.

At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt technology gives you great responsiveness with high-speed data and display transfers in each direction – at the same time.

With a single cable, connecting a PC to multiple devices is simple, making it easy to get and see what you want, when you want it. I think Thunderbolt technology gives you incredible flexibility; high performance expansion is just a cable away for new and novel uses, now and in the future.

With the 10 Gbps performance of Thunderbolt products you can
•    Transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds
•    Backup 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just over 10 minutes

Thunderbolt technology and how it works

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
•    Bi-directional
•    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
 
Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols. Thunderbolt technology works on data streams in both directions, at the same time, so users get the benefit of full bandwidth in both directions, over a single cable. With the two independent channels, a full 10 Gbps of bandwidth can be provided for the first device, as well as additional downstream devices.
 
And all Thunderbolt devices share a common connector, allowing users to daisy chain devices one after another with interoperable cables.

What Thunderbolt means to users

Thunderbolt technology enables using the thinnest and lightest laptops and connecting to the extra power and performance of other devices when needed, using a single cable. Adding new performance devices is simple and easy – just plug and play – making Thunderbolt technology powerful and flexible.

Thunderbolt technology was specifically designed with professional audio and video applications in mind, where the inherently low latency and highly accurate time synchronization features play a crucial role.

network-diag.jpg
 

Workstation performance expansion, now with a laptop

With Thunderbolt enabled products, video editing and sharing using Intel Quick Sync Video technology is even faster and easier.

Data transfers for backup, sharing, and editing are tremendously accelerated using Thunderbolt products, significantly reducing times to complete these tasks.

And Thunderbolt enabled products are compatible with existing DisplayPort devices so you don’t have to go buy a new display to take advantage of a Thunderbolt technology enabled computer.

What does Thunderbolt technology mean for the PC industry

By tapping into the performance and protocols delivered over Thunderbolt technology, designers are free to innovate new PC products and configurations, no longer constrained to the boundaries of the chassis walls. Thunderbolt technology enables engineers to:
•    Design standalone performance expansion technologies commonly used in desktops and workstations, using existing native device drivers and interconnected by a single cable.
•    Introduce thinner and lighter laptops, expandable through Thunderbolt technology and its miniature connector designed for mobile applications, without sacrificing I/O performance.
•    Extend to reach other I/O technologies by using adapters that use widely available PCI Express controllers. It’s simple to create a Gigabit Ethernet, or FireWire, or eSATA adapters using existing device PCI Express drivers.

Thunderbolt products require a controller chip supplied by Intel and a small connector that would be included in platforms supporting this technology. The Thunderbolt controller chip provides protocol switching capabilities to support the two protocols over a single cable. Intel is making its controller chip available to the industry, and is working with other component manufacturers to deliver the Thunderbolt connectors and cables.

Industry Support

Several innovative companies have announced Thunderbolt enabled products, or plans to support Thunderbolt in upcoming products including Apple Inc., Promise Technology, Inc., and LaCie. Intel is working with the industry to enable a variety of Thunderbolt enabled products including computers, displays, high speed data storage devices, audio/video devices, and more.

And here is a video to show you this in action, enjoy!

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect: The golden principle of good design

* Only Connect: Common fiber connectors – a guide

* Only Connect: Product innovation – mixing signal

* Only Connect: IPC versus Greenpeace electronics scorecard

* Only Connect: Product innovation from Space

* Only Connect: Apple’s MagSafe connector makes sense

* Only Connect: Coaxial connections guide

* Only Connect: Eco-gift for Christmas (Going Green #4)

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #3

* Only Connect: On using Ethernet connectors

* Only Connect: High-temp superconductors good news for renewable energy

* Only Connect: A positive mindset for winning government contracts

* Only Connect: A Top Ten of connector manufacturers

* Only Connect: Red toxic sludge points the way (Going Green #3)

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #4 – Explosion proof Ethernet

* Only Connect: We’re changing the world into a better place, baby!

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #3 – The right wrong connector

* Only Connect: Proud of the Made In UK mark

* Only Connect: Handy Design Tips #1 – Colour

* Only Connect: Better promoting the value of UK manufacturing

Tags: accurate time, electronics manufacturing, gbps, nicab, peripheral devices

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