Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Thunderbolt 2 to blast into production later this year

Intel has made its next iteration of its Thunderbolt high-speed I/O port technology official. The company announced on Tuesday that the new version would get the rather unoriginal name "Thunderbolt 2."

The technology was first revealed at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in April, under the code name Falcon Ridge.

To achieve Thunderbolt 2's 20Gbps speeds, Intel uses a new controller chip that combines the first generation Thunderbolt's 10Gpbs unidirectional channels into a single bidirectional channel. Thunderbolt 2

In addition, Thunderbolt 2 will carry support for DisplayPort 1.2. The "addition of DisplayPort 1.2 support in Thunderbolt 2 enables video streaming to a single 4K video monitor or dual QHD monitors," Intel said.

Meanwhile, USB 3.0 still lags, with its speed of 4.8 Gbps. A press release in January said that an enhancement to USB 3.0 was planned, one that would raise its speed to 10Gbps, on par with Thunderbolt -- though not Thunderbolt 2.

Since the upgrade relies on a new controller, users won't have to change their cables. Full backward compatibility will be maintained with the same cables and connectors used with today's Thunderbolt version.

Thunderbolt was introduced in early 2011 after a collaboration between Apple and Intel. Originally codenamed Light Peak, it is now found on all Apple computers except the Mac Pro tower. It's also available on some PCs, including those from Lenovo and Acer.

Intel said that Thunderbolt 2 is expected to reach production by the end of this year. However, Thunderbolt 2 production will not ramp, the company said, until 2014.

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