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View Full Version : Thunderbold (Light Peak) a Game Changer?



csandy
02-28-2011, 11:25 AM
Since the Amiga days with the Zorro sidecars and more recently with the Magma expension chassis for PowerMacs, I've always wondered why some manufacturer didn't come up with laptop friendly I/O system that gave direct bus access to the CPU. PMCIA, PC Card, ExpressBus were great starts, but I don't think anything past has the same promise as the Thurderbolt technology recently announced by Apple and Intel.

I think it's a game changer. Here's why:

1) optical connections. Halleleujah! Long runs, fast throughput (10Gbps), inexpensive interconnects.
2) flexibility. You can have many different types of peripherals use the same connection. The promise of USB - but better! Displays, drives, arrays, NLEs, streaming devices, video routers, can all use the same technology.
3) laptops will become useful to the power user again. Really, a CPU is a CPU is a CPU. Sure, mobile CPUs have power saving features, but what the pro road warrier really wants is a system as powerful as their desktop that they can take with them without first having to stop at U-haul.

Imagine a "TriCaster" that offered 3gpbs HD-SDI, multichannel audio recording for 12 digital and analog sources in a briefcase no larger than 2 rack units thick. It would be possible using Thunderbolt because the computer component is your laptop, and you'd merely have to plug it in.

I can't wait for the possibilities to be exploited.

Dexter2999
02-28-2011, 11:52 AM
It offers 10Gigabit throughput. That has already been available in Ethernet.

Just looks like proprietary crap to me. And of course like "Firewire" most likely it will be copyrighted so the PC world will have to call it something else.

Honestly, quite disappointed with the new Mac laptops.
No Blu Ray.
No USB 3.0
No 10Gbit Ethernet.
Proprietary display port/data port.

Netvudu
02-28-2011, 12:23 PM
I agree with the "propietary crap" idea...

csandy
02-28-2011, 01:01 PM
Good point about ethernet. But truly ethernet can achieve just abou any speed. After all, how fast is an electron through copper? That's not the point really. What I'm excited about is the fiber implementation. Also, not too many people using NAS for their NLEs with ethernet connection. SCSI, Fiberchannel, eSATA yet. Ethernet? Primarily still for relatively low speed file sharing.

Firewire is a marketing term. IEEE1394 is a standard enjoyed by every major camera manufacturer, whether they called it iLink, as Sony chose to do, or licensed the Firewire trademark from Apple. This is nothing new. VHS, DVD, BluRay, hell, even PC were or are currently trademarks. Trademarks and standards will always have to coexist in a business environment. That's not going away.

"Proprietary Crap." Proprietary? Yes. Is it crap? Nope. Great idea, and very good technology.

What will make it useful though is adoption. Firewire enjoyed widespread adoption and was coupled with every DV and HDV device on the market. It was extremely successful and useful. It delivered Audio Video and control over the same came. Before firewire, hooking up a deck or camera was simply a pain in the assets. Good luck with the budget if you wanted to transfer you video by some digital means, and frame accurate control was something you could only hope for after hooking up yet more cabling (remember RS422? joy).

Sure, Apple is going to crush the NLE market selling MacBooks bundled with Final Cut Pro, but that's really nothing to get excited about. The real value to be had is when Sony, Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo, etc start putting these Thunderbolt ports in their machines and peripheral manufactuers latch on and create a robust market for high-throughput devices.

I'm not too excited about implementing yesterday's technology like BluRay. Heck, I just got rid of most of my DVD collection because I've come to realize that collecting such things right now are a fool's errand. Replace them with BlueRay? Why? It's already a dying technology. Right up there with SACD. People download stuff now. Money would be better spent investing in storage and a faster network than BluRay discs that would be obsolete once you get the shrinkwrap off. And Apple dropped standard display options a while back. My suggestion - don't buy an Apple. It's not for you. (But buy their stock, you'll thank me for it later....)

But the technology has a lot of promise. Networking is great - but until America has a 10 Gigabit network (don't hold your breath on that one) 10Gb ethernet has limited value. But let's not confuse networking with interconnection. A fast, direct bus system is needed yesterday to attach peripherals. One that is optical and also backwards compatible with legacy connections.

wibly wobly
02-28-2011, 01:07 PM
Aren't the Mac cables for this copper, not optical?

If I can control devices like I can with firewire, then I could see it being useful, otherwise... meh. There's other stuff out there that may have less issues with licensing / propriety strangle hold and compatibility issues.

Dexter2999
02-28-2011, 01:10 PM
You are free to your opinion, Sir. I however, will be filing "Thunderbolt" in with the proprietary connector Apple devised for the Cinedisplay, and the old two row fifteen pin VGA cables they used.

Apple has a long history of proprietary connectors and I think this is just another fad.

csandy
02-28-2011, 01:21 PM
Aren't the Mac cables for this copper, not optical?

If I can control devices like I can with firewire, then I could see it being useful, otherwise... meh. There's other stuff out there that may have less issues with licensing / propriety strangle hold and compatibility issues.

That's the beauty of it - it's either copper or optical. It can use either.

What else is there on the market (or even proposed) that would allow the troughput and CPU access on a laptop that would allow you to hook up an HD video router or RAID? I'd love to know.

Ernest
02-28-2011, 01:22 PM
You are free to your opinion, Sir. I however, will be filing "Thunderbolt" in with the proprietary connector Apple devised for the Cinedisplay, and the old two row fifteen pin VGA cables they used.

Apple has a long history of proprietary connectors and I think this is just another fad.Except for the fact that Light peak is Intel's and not just Apple's, so it's a fad that will be used on both sides of the fence.

csandy
02-28-2011, 01:23 PM
You are free to your opinion, Sir. I however, will be filing "Thunderbolt" in with the proprietary connector Apple devised for the Cinedisplay, and the old two row fifteen pin VGA cables they used.

Apple has a long history of proprietary connectors and I think this is just another fad.

Sure.

My hope goes beyond Intel. I'd like the opposite - that either other manufacturers adopt the Apple standard wholesale or come up with something better.

Right now, there's nothing on the market or even announced that can offer comparable functionality.

csandy
02-28-2011, 01:36 PM
Except for the fact that Light peak is Intel's and not just Apple's, so it's a fad that will be used on both sides of the fence.

I'll give Dexter his due, it's actually a co-developed standard. But you're absolutely right - Intel didn't spend the R&D to have their chips only put into Macintosh (maybe 10% of the market if that?) computers.

By the way USB... PCI... IDE... DVD-ROM... all co-developed....

Again, it's fun to go after companies, especially ones that like to put up walled gardens of technology, but ALL of these companies are in the business of making money. If interoperable standards make the company more money, that's what they'll do. If walled gardens make more money, yup, that's what they'll do.

You don't have to look further than the sponsor of the discussion board to see these prudent business decisions in practice.

calilifestyle
02-28-2011, 02:05 PM
I rather we stick with standards usb 3.0 and if they release a new firewire standard would be great.

LW_Will
02-28-2011, 02:36 PM
Intel's name for the "Light Peak" project is THUNDERBOLT. Its not an Apple technology, its an Intel technology.

Also, USB was an Intel technology, that became the standard... AFTER Apple put it in the Bandi Blue iMac.

Thunderbolt is over twice the speed of USB 3, so, who cares about USB3.0 now?

calilifestyle
02-28-2011, 02:43 PM
well lightpeak was a joint venture with apple and intel.

BigHache
02-28-2011, 03:21 PM
USB 3.0 has been a joke to me since it was announced. None of my video hardware is USB. Thunderbolt could become another USB 3.0.

It could be well and good for some consumers, but things like my AJA IO HD won't be replaced anytime soon. I would venture to say others that are knee deep in hardware won't be jumping on a new hardware bandwagon either.

I like new tech, but unfortunately my stuff will have to break and have no parts available first.

calilifestyle
02-28-2011, 05:36 PM
For now hdmi seems to be winning for most. Even phones have minihdmi out with a standard hdmi on the other end. Of course this video and audio only, i think.

Lightwolf
02-28-2011, 06:06 PM
well lightpeak was a joint venture with apple and intel.
Nope:
"This Intel-developed technology is coming to market through a technical collaboration with Apple, and is available first on Apple's new line of MacBook Pro laptop computers."
Note where the technology sits and who collaborated to put it on the market first.

Not that it's really that relevant. It's certainly interesting for a lot of applications that require low latency - and the daisy chaining as well as the relatively robust cable are really nice to have.
It's a shame that Intel don't support it natively in their current crop of chipsets though - but they've been slow to adapt new tech in that area lately anyhow (i.e. USB2, SATA 6G).
The neat part is that it's compatible to PCI Express, which means that it doesn't require new drivers or special OS support. (On the other hand it's also as insecure as Firewire and can potentially be used by malign devices to snoop on the host system).

Cheers,
Mike

Red_Oddity
03-01-2011, 02:50 AM
USB 1/2 is only fun if you have a fast computer when doing lots of work from external drives (and even then it seems to max out at 1 core and 25MB/s, i advice to just plug a eSata card in your computer and buy a Icydock or similar hot-swappable eSata drive case/bay, it guarantees full throughput and it won't burn through CPU cycles (a simple WD Green edition disk reaches speeds of up to 100MB/s).

Haven't tried USB 3 yet as most vendors are on the fence it seems, though it should have gotten rid of the CPU hogging.

Also, i've been told the copper wire in Light Peak is there to power devices (like USB does), not to transport data, correct me if i'm wrong though.

Lightwolf
03-01-2011, 02:54 AM
Haven't tried USB 3 yet as most vendors are on the fence it seems, though it should have gotten rid of the CPU hogging.
USB3 includes a special, low overhead, protocol for storage devices.

Also, i've been told the copper wire in Light Peak is there to power devices (like USB does), not to transport data, correct me if i'm wrong though.
Nope, the current implementation is copper all the way through. Apple used modified display port cables - which might end up as one of many standards.

Optical is optional. If I remember correctly that's possible with a "simple" converter (that can be external).

Thunderbolt is also limited to roughly 3m for a copper connection (from one device to the next).

Cheers,
Mike

Red_Oddity
03-01-2011, 03:15 AM
I see.

I just wish they would come up with a new technology that could reach beyond 3 meters for once :p (or at least, without having to buy insane amounts of signal boosters)

Lightwolf
03-01-2011, 03:34 AM
I just wish they would come up with a new technology that could reach beyond 3 meters for once :p (or at least, without having to buy insane amounts of signal boosters)
Well, considering that it is a full speed extension of the PCI Express bus, 3m ain't that bad compared to slot-in boards ;)

Cheers,
Mike

Red_Oddity
03-01-2011, 03:43 AM
That's true.

Especially when you keep it purely for removable storage and other peripherals.]

Now all we need are removable harddisks and thumb drives that actually can reach that theoretical 380 MB/s, i hate having to wait 2 nanoseconds longer for my doc and xls files to get copied :P

csandy
03-01-2011, 06:23 AM
USB 3.0 has been a joke to me since it was announced. None of my video hardware is USB. Thunderbolt could become another USB 3.0.

I think the big difference here is Final Cut Pro. It has enough of a market surge in an of itself to promote product development and adoption.


For now hdmi seems to be winning for most. Even phones have minihdmi out with a standard hdmi on the other end. Of course this video and audio only, i think.

HDMI is a consumer standard and really not suitable for professional video. Fine for connecting monitors and projectors, but I wouldn't use it to interconnect my professional video production equipment.

csandy
03-01-2011, 06:34 AM
I see.

I just wish they would come up with a new technology that could reach beyond 3 meters for once :p (or at least, without having to buy insane amounts of signal boosters)

As noted above, Thunderbolt is optical OR copper. You won't be able to run a RAID array off of the voltage coming over Thunderbolt's copper connection. Think of it as one of your current USB devices that you still have to plug into an outlet because it draws too much power from the bus. Thunderbolt is similar.

You are NOT limited to 3 meters if you opt to use optical cabling.

There is a similar scheme that has been used by Apple and others for many years. The $99 Apple Airport Express (I'm putting the price in case you want to buy one and try it out for yourself if are the type that don't believe what you read) has a hybrid audio port that can either accept an optical cable or a copper cable.

For devices you have to plug in anyway due to the current draw, you might as well go with fiber to achieve greater distances from the host. It will remain to be seen how many manufacturers offer fiber connections to their peripherals.

Red_Oddity
03-01-2011, 03:53 PM
Actually, i was being sarcastic. But i do have seen some awful USB extension setups.

But we'll see what gets adopted, probably Thunderbolt, as anything Apple peddles seems to be gobbled up en masse, good or not.