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Thunderbolt 2 twice as speedy for 4K video streaming

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June 5, 2013

Thunderbolt 2 will enable 4K video transfer (Image: Shutterstock/JMiks)

Thunderbolt 2 will enable 4K video transfer (Image: Shutterstock/JMiks)

Intel has released further details of the next generation of Thunderbolt, the high-speed hardware interface it originally developed with Apple. Thunderbolt 2 doubles data transfer rates to 20 Gb/s which, with the incorporation of DisplayPort 1.2, will allow the transmission of raw 4K video as well as data.

The current Thunderbolt standard has two separate 10 Gb/s copper channels: one for data and one for video. But 10 Gb/s is insufficient for streaming 4K video. For Thunderbolt 2, Intel has combined the two into a single two-way channel cable of devoting necessary bandwidth to video, and using the rest for data.

Intel says that, by daisy-chaining hardware, it will be possible for users to simultaneously view and back up 4K video files on an external storage device via a display. "Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours," the company says. And it appears that Intel is already thinking about Thunderbolt 3. "[O]ur labs aren't stopping there, as demand for video and rich data transfer just continues to rise exponentially," says Intel's Thunderbolt Marketing Director, Jason Ziller.

Thunderbolt 2 will be backwards-compatible, so Thunderbolt hardware will continue to work when connected to or through Thunderbolt 2 connectors and cables. Production is scheduled to begin before the year's end.

Source: Intel

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James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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5 Comments

I completely fail to see where the continuing utility is in this technology.

All this research into faster copper should instead be funneled into researching a practical and reliable optical connector for peripherals.

If connectors can be made that offer reliable optical connections, then a single cable could be constructed with a fiber channel and two wires for power, and that's it. And in longer runs the copper can simply be eliminated or not used, and the power supplied by a separate source. Because, after all, there would be no grounding or signal reference issues.

The advantages would be enormous. No fancy "in-cable" electronics, bandwidth is higher, interference is just about completely eliminated, the practical range is vastly extended (limited only by the ability of a certain gauge wire to carry the power without too much loss), and so on. It's a slam-dunk.

This Thunderbolt seems like a giant kludge in comparison. It really seems to me that the same amount of money spent on better optical connectors would be a far better use of resources.

Anne Ominous
5th June, 2013 @ 12:34 pm PDT

"Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours,"

Don't see how they can make this comparison between Thunderbird 1 and 1.2. Unless they are referring to something else like USB2.

First of all who transfers raw video across? An ASIC in the TV or source device would at least compress the stream with a very low loss codec, placing video bandwidth requirements well below 10Gbps.

4k video in its raw form would only really be used by professional video editors, and they would likely have specialized hardware for the task.

Re: Anne Ominous

PCI-X 10GBPS fiber modules are still ridiculously expensive because of the technology required to switch laser at those frequencies. eg -

Intel X520-LR1 E10G41BFLR 10Gbps PCI Express Server Adapter $1,053.54.

What Intel are doing with 1.2 is changing how Thunderbird handles data and video streams. They are possibly not changing that hardware that delivers it. Possibly, owners of Thunderbird 1.0 motherboards might be able to inherit this feature with a firmware update. Win-win.

Nairda
5th June, 2013 @ 03:28 pm PDT

Re: both above... Corning and Sumimoto have already developed Active Optical Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables that reach the 10GBPS (well, the thunderbolt cable supposedly does anyway)

http://www.gizmag.com/corning-laser-optical-cable/25692/

http://www.corning.com/CableSystems/OpticalCablesbyCorning/products/thunderbolt.aspx

But that's as far as my knowledge on the subject goes.

Daniel Brown
5th June, 2013 @ 06:20 pm PDT

Was not the original crazy idea created by Apple merely so they could move some electronics out of their PCs in order to make them smaller?

They could also then obtain even more profit by selling the crazily expensive active cables that would be necessary.

Anybody who falls for this rubbish deserves to be ripped-off !

professore
6th June, 2013 @ 08:29 am PDT

professore,

No, it wasn't. Intel developed and owns the Thunderbolt technology spec, with some input from Apple. It's Intel's ironfisted grip on Thunderbolt that's still keeping it from taking off. Honestly, the willful ignorance of habitual Apple-bashers never ceases to amaze me.

Gadgeteer
8th June, 2013 @ 09:49 am PDT
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