New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Thunderbolt Details Emerge: Bus Power, Mini DisplayPort, and More


With today's introduction of Thunderbolt by Intel and new MacBook Pros from Apple featuring the technology, long-standing questions regarding how the technology would be implemented are finally coming to rest. Intel just held a media event to provide additional details on the technology, and CNET provided a live blog of the event.

True to recent developments, Thunderbolt is initially being implemented solely over a copper connection, with optical connections set to come later this year. The technology essentially combines PCI Express and DisplayPort into one protocol, allowing displays and other peripherals to be driven off of the same bus.


Other Notes:

- 10 Gbps per channel (bidirectional - that's about 900 MB/s).
- 10 W bus power (less than FireWire, but more than USB). According to Intel, bus power will likely not be supported over future optical cables (so no additional copper lines just for bus power)
- One bus can drive two DisplayPort displays simultaneously.
- Low 8 ns latency over 7 daisy-chained devices.
- Maximum single cable length is 3 meters for current copper implementation.
- Any DisplayPort 1.1 device needs to be the last in a daisy chain.
- In a hands-on demonstration of Thunderbolt, Engadget was able to see a 5 GB file transferred in just a few seconds. The connection was also capable of playing four simultaneous uncompressed HD video streams from a RAID device.
- Ars Technica notes that its compact, inexpensive controller combined with Mini DisplayPort makes Thunderbolt well suited for mobile computing.
- According to Intel, Apple has a head start of anywhere from several months to a year over the competition when it comes to Thunderbolt.

Vendors who have already committed to producing Thunderbolt devices include Promise (Pegasus RAID) and LaCie (Little Big Disk).