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Thunderbolt, connections for the future

COW Blogs : gary adcock's Blog : Thunderbolt, connections for the future
Let’s talk about Thunderbolt ( and why wasn’t the name LightPeak good enough)

The Thunderbolt technology offers users a 10 Gbps - that is roughly 1028 MB {1+ GIgbytes} per second data transfer as a Dual Channel, bi-directional, multi protocol connection, that also allows power over the cable a la FW.

On a laptop.

OK, as someone that has constantly pushed the bounds of working on location, this is finally the real deal, at that max data level, we are talking about viewing 4K (theoretically) in realtime, however for the near future we are really talking about only about ½ of that sustained date rate, being limited in the beginning by copper only cabling and a minimal driver set.

Yet that will change. As with many other Apple hardware technologies, Mac users are often first to the gate, albeit, stalled at the starting line, but Macophiles need not worry. This is a harbinger of things to come, without the ongoing hassles left behind by the exclusion of legacy Floppy discs, a PCMCIA slot, FW 400, Express card, then DVD’s on some models.

The design of ThunderBolt (TB for short, since I do not have a lightening bolt symbol on my keyboard) allows for manufacturers to design around existing and future connectivity all within the TB design structure as long as the developer works with the native driver tools as supplied by Intel and Apple.

Think about what this kind of tech means, even the “slow” initial release will still be able to process content at over 400 MBps with TB native drive arrays. That is enough to handle 2 full rez streams of uncompressed 10bit, 1080 HD content in real time, while also delivering an image to a display.{ For the record, UC footage is easier to playback than lower data rate compressed codecs as there is no compression/ de-compression load on the CPU or need for GPU processing)
As news warrants here I will be updating everyone here on the Cow on the advances on the Storage and display fronts, but for now, the new Apple MacBooks are enabled for the future, I expect to start seeing any number of devices starting next month at NAB.

Next week I will touch on the Sony 8K camera and imager announcements.


Posted by: gary adcock on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:42:38 amComments (7) apple, Thunderbolt


Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Jay Soriano

I asked this on another thread. So will the 2011 Macbook Pros always be limited to 10Gbps? Is it a limitation to the port or cable? Once optical fiber cables are available, can early adopters benefit from 100Gbps or will this require a new port on future Macs? Thanks for clearing things up.
Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Jeremy Garchow
[Jay Soriano] "So will the 2011 Macbook Pros always be limited to 10Gbps?"

Remember it's 10Gbps up and 10Gbps down x 2 channels. 40Gbps combined total bandwidth. Lets not forget the reality wall. It's harder than a firewall.
Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by gary adcock
"Remember it's 10Gbps up and 10Gbps down x 2 channels. 40Gbps combined total bandwidth"

It is my understanding that the "dual channel" means it can simultaneously carry more than one protocol, and Bi-Directional means the data can flow simultaneously in either direction but the "aggregate total" bandwidth via each connector is 10Gbps.

TB at this point was not initially designed as anything more than 10Gbps, that is the max on fibre, as I said the first releases will be copper and cap at 4-6Gbps, with the full 10Gbps only on custom hybrid alloy or glass. Yet change is inevitable and I have little doubt that future versions will be able to maintain even greater aggregate bandwidth within 5 years.

At that point the bigger limitation is actually going to be the CPU/ GPU cache and how information is processed within the core processing, which without proper cooling will always be more limited in the portable applications.

gary adcock

Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
Chicago, IL

Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Bob Zelin
Jay -
your comment about "100GB/sec" c r a c k s me up. Do you actually think that anything you own (other than your desk or your AC outlet strip) will be usable when 100GB/sec comes out. I say this on countless forums, but just for you, let me repeat - you, Jay, will continue to spend MORE AND MORE MONEY on this type of equipment, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. It will never be over, there will never be a good upgrade path. This has been the facts since I have been in the business (1978), and it will continue this way - and things will get outdated faster and faster - more than ever before. So, will your new Mac Book Pro with 10GB Thunderbolt be compatible with 100GB/sec in the future - will there ever be "upgrade" cards for this - ABSOLUTELY NOT. Your bank account will continue to drain, just as it has for all of us, for the rest of your life. No legacy for you !

Bob Zelin

Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Jay Soriano

I've enjoyed reading your posts throughout the years similar as this INCLUDING this one. Thank you for setting the record straight LOUD and CLEAR! Never thought I would get ZELINED!
Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Joe Pitts
so you are saying i can't upgrade the Quadra at all!!!!!??????
Re: Blog: Thunderbolt, connections for the future
by Victor Perez
I am sure we will all get our fill of TB at NAB. This should be the start of a great year.


Join industry geek Gary Adcock as he explores the world and technology as it relates to Film and Video production. I am also a Glass artist, so I spend my free time creating art from silica and fire when I am not cooking.


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