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Intel Working to Boost Thunderbolt Speeds with Move to PCI-Express 3.0

IDG News reports that Intel is currently working on shifting its Thunderbolt standard to the PCI-Express 3.0 protocol, a move that could allow the company to double data transfer speeds over existing implementations based on PCIe 2.0.
Intel in the future will support the PCI-Express 3.0 protocol to shuttle data faster between host devices and peripherals, an Intel spokesman said in an email. Computers with Thunderbolt interconnect currently communicate with external devices using the older PCI-Express 2.0 technology.

The company will incorporate PCI-Express 3.0 in Thunderbolt, but could not provide a time frame for when it will be accomplished.
PCIe 3.0 offers a 60% boost in raw data transfer speed compared to PCIe 2.0, going from 5 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) to 8 GT/s. But significantly lower overheard requirements in PCIe 3.0 mean that the effective bandwidth can be doubled by moving to the latest standard.

PCIe 3.0 is already making an appearance in Intel's chip products, including the just-launched Xeon E5 chips that could power updated Mac Pro models, as well as the forthcoming Ivy Bridge chips for notebooks and desktops. It will, however, take some time to move Thunderbolt over to PCIe 3.0 and get peripheral manufacturers onboard with the standard.

Apple and Intel debuted Thunderbolt technology with a MacBook Pro update in February 2011, and the standard has rolled out to Apple's entire Mac product line with the exception of the Mac Pro, which has not been updated since mid-2010.

Top Rated Comments

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65 months ago
Give me external graphic cards already!!
Rating: 20 Votes
65 months ago
I think it's more important to actually have 3rd party devices we can buy and use before needing to upgrade the specification.
Rating: 15 Votes
65 months ago
I think Thunderbolt is a great spec. But until there are more peripheral devices to use with it, it really doesn't matter how fast it is...

The existing PCIe 2.0 spec is lightning fast, if only we could get it showing up on docking stations, external hard drives, external graphics/physics cards, etc.
Rating: 13 Votes
65 months ago
How about boosting some actual products instead .. just saying.
Rating: 11 Votes
65 months ago

Is now a bad time to buy a 17" MBP then? :(

Only you can decide that. Is 5 gigatransfers per second too slow for you?
Rating: 9 Votes
65 months ago
How about releasing some devices first? Or ones that don't costs 5X as much as its USB 3.0 counterpart.
Rating: 6 Votes
65 months ago

It all sounds great, external video cards, fast speeds, etc... Where's the hardware?! At least Apple could make something by now since third parties are way behind...


If Apple were to release any kind of device, you can be damn sure it would cost at least 50% more than anyone elses for NO LEGITIMATE REASON.
Rating: 6 Votes
65 months ago
[meme]Bought a macbook :D

Already outdated :( [/meme]
Rating: 5 Votes
65 months ago

Two thousand pounds would be a lot to spend on a machine that could be out of date next month. :/

Yea, that's a "TON" of money !!!! :eek:
Rating: 4 Votes
65 months ago

5GT/s is 500MB/s and 8GT/s is 1GB/s.

So we didn't have enough confusion in the world with people between bit and byte so now someone invents "transfer" as a 5:1 ratio??? WTF!? That should be stricken from the history of the universe! What a crock of proverbial cow dung. :eek:

The USB standards committee nuked USB + TB combo solution. They disapproved it.

Who cares what they want. It should be what's best for the consumer and society in general, not some committee looking only to promote its own interests. All they really had to do was create a dual-port with two different shapes on it that interlock. In other words, a USB port with an additional small vertical component that is only used for Thunderbolt devices. This way they can put multiple ports on a laptop and let the user decide what to use them for and yet computers with only one or the other will still fit their respective devices.

But putting ThunderStruck on a port that is not used hardly anywhere in the known Universe and then attaching it to video (worse than useless on a Mac Pro, for example) compounds the mistake many times over. Not only does this potentially choke Thunderbolt's potential because it has to carry video that it doesn't need to carry when a dedicated video port would do, but needlessly adds a video standard that is then going to be missing or a hassle and a half on any machine with video cards (like the Mac Pro) which would then either wipe out your Thunderbolt connections if you bought a different video card without Thunderbolt on it or leave you with a non-standard port that doesn't carry video but should be carrying it (thus being useless with monitor hubs, etc.) This is what happens when you start mixing bandwidth between unrelated devices.

Worse even yet is what happens when you only have ONE Thunderbolt port that is ALSO your video output port. Your monitor has to be the last device (unless it has its own hub) and so any devices you might need to hot connect or remove means unplugging your monitor back and forth with the other devices in-between since someone thought that daisy-chaining was a GREAT idea.... :rolleyes: Display port monitors that aren't thunderbolt will definitely have to be the last in the chain since they can't pass it at all period even if they have 2nd display port to pass just straight video. The standards were no designed together and then just arbitrarily linked by Apple. Bad move.

Let's face it. As soon as Apple gets USB 3.0 with Ivy Bridge, it's game over for Thunderbolt except as a high-end device (just like with Firewire). Incompatible ports + MDP ports that almost no one else uses + no reasonable priced hubs + no reasonable priced devices = FAIL. USB 3.0 is 100% backwards compatible with USB 2.x and 1.x and so you don't need any other ports on a mobile device. Plug in a hub and you're golden with as many ports as you need or can be sustained for available bandwidth. USB 3.0 can replace USB 2.x and 1.x and so it's a no-brainer low cost addition to virtually ALL computers in the near future while Thunderbolt is something that no one really needs and has no real device support beyond a few high-end things like mega-fast raid arrays and costs an arm and a lag for all existing hubs (tied to single monitor choices only from Apple). Little support = Fail no matter how good the technology (witness FW800 in its day; it was vastly superior to USB2.x, but it got little support by comparison because it wasn't needed by most people and devices supporting it cost $100-200 more than the comparable USB2.0 or E-Sata versions due to the need for an expensive on-board controller.
Rating: 4 Votes

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