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Intel Portables Hardware

Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel 351

An anonymous reader writes "Thunderbolt ports have been spotted on a PC motherboard, but the reality is that the technology is far from mainstream outside of Apple products. Which is why it is interesting to hear Intel predict that 'a hundred' Thunderbolt devices are expected to be on the market by the end of the year. The comment was made this week at Intel's presentation at IDF in Beijing. Ultrabooks with Thunderbolt are expected to appear this year."
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Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel

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  • What is it again? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @12:36PM (#39659593)
    I understand it's just another port to plug things in. Just what we need, laptops with fifteen different input and output ports. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP, USB3, whatever thunderbolt is, FW, eSATA, unique docking connector, Ethernet, unique power socket, and a card reader for eighteen different cards. I'm sure I've missed a few.
  • Re:erm... what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by honestmonkey ( 819408 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#39660141) Journal
    "Someone announced something really neat and cool and you'll want one. It'll be out soon, on every platform. What, you don't know? Google it, mother-fucker!" Yeah, real fucking informative. News I can use indeed.
  • Re:erm... what? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:14PM (#39660379)

    Thunderbolt is another shitty port and set of cables to confuse people, an external connection to the PCIe bus, and a controller to make it do things.

    We do not need more ports and cables. Thunderbolt's claim is that by using it we'll have LESS cables. This is what they always say and it's always bullshit.

    We've had external PCIe for 7 years. No one wanted it.

    The only useful part of Thunderbolt is the controller. In theory, you should be able to pipe video, audio, ethernet, usb, firewire, serial, or any fucking thing your Thunderbotl chipset/frimware supports, over a single cable, as well as daisy chain devices like with firewire/SCSI. The controller basically has shit to handle all of those protocols, and then it just figures out how best to send the data over the link. You should be able to, for example, connect a monitor to your PC via a Thunderbolt cable, then chain a second monitor with a short cable from the first monitor, and again from monitor 2 to monitor 3. Monitor 2 (in the middle) could have the typical USB hub for your mouse, keyboard, whatever, and monitor 3's Thunderbolt out could go to your speakers.

    In practice, there are almost no devices that use Thunderbolt, and those that do have different physical ports. The controllers also have varying capabilities with regards to throughput. In the above example, you need a Thunderbolt controller capable of handling all that data, then monitors with physical ports for chaining Thunderbolt devices, and cables that connect those (possibly different) physical ports. Then you need a hell of a lot of luck to not get fucked in the ass by having your audio downgraded to stereo because some HDCP shit failed along the way.

    Thunderbolt used to be called Lightpeak, but then they realized they weren't ready to release it as such (and optical version), so now there will be Thunderbolt over copper and Thunderbolt over optical, meaning different sets of cables and different sets of ports that adapters will not work for (unless they're active and have an optical transceiver and cost $70).

    They should have waited and got hardware manufacturers on board, but Apple needed another bullet point for their press conference.

    TL;DR: Thunderbolt is the new Firewire.

  • by Ogi_UnixNut ( 916982 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:21PM (#39660515) Homepage

    No, they learnt from the old DMA Hacks on Firewire. Now Intel CPU's have an IOMMU to prevent those DMA attacks from succeeding. Whether a way to break that will be found in future remains to be seen.

    If they do find a way to break it, then we are back to where we were before. Physical access always wins with hacking. DMA Attacks can be done via Firewire, thunderbolt, PCI, PCI express, PCMCIA, ExpressCard, etc... Basically anything that is connected to the bus. Yet we will still use it due to its performance/efficiency advantages, and the world will not end.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:44PM (#39661013)

    You realize a device on the PCIe bus can do ANYTHING to a system, right? At that low a level it has complete access to memory, it can crash your system, or worse, and there's shit you can do about it. That's part of the reason for USB to be like it is. It provides very high level access, it is all controlled through the CPU. Means a lot of overhead, but also more security.

    Also there's the fact that TB costs a whole lot more to implement in devices. USB slave devices are dumb, most of the logic is on the master, the computer. Not the case with PCIe, you need more logic to work on the bus, so shit will cost more.

    It has its place, potentially, don't get me wrong. But this idea that it'll replace everything is silly. You don't want a TB mouse. You want a USB mouse.

  • Re:erm... what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:58PM (#39661289)

    It is based on mini Display Port, on which Apple owns a patent. Given Apple's history of bad acting recently, I do not feel comfortable with a proprietary connector that has anything to do with Apple.

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