One by one the barriers to mobile computing have been falling. In the early days you could move to a notebook but you'd give up a lot of CPU, GPU and I/O performance. SSDs really fixed the storage performance issue (2.5" hard drives are horrendously slow compared to their 3.5" counterparts), power gating and turbo boost helped address the CPU problem and I wouldn't be too surprised to see companies have another go at external GPU solutions for those who need the added graphics horsepower.

The idea of external GPUs brings up the current limitation we face in this mobile transition. Although being more mobile is great, we still want the best of both worlds: great performance when we're at a desk, and great battery life when mobile. Enabling the former is going to require new technologies as well as new high speed interfaces.

Intel has been at the forefront of many of the successful high bandwidth interfaces in the evolution of the PC industry. Will Thunderbolt be another feather in its cap? In February we got the first Thunderbolt enabled MacBook Pros and just last week Promise shipped the first Thunderbolt enabled storage device. It's time to put the two together.

Thunderbolt Recap

At the beginning of this year Intel, alongside Apple, finally introduced a productized version of the interface we'd previously only known as Light Peak. Given that the first instantiation of this interface used traditional copper wires and not an optical interface, Apple and Intel branded it Thunderbolt.


Thunderbolt Controller IC on 15" 2011 MacBook Pro - Courtesy iFixit 

The interface is royalty free, although Intel is the only company that makes Thunderbolt controller needed to support the interface. There's no word on the cost of the Thunderbolt controller. Thunderbolt isn't an Apple exclusive, however we won't see PCs ship with the high bandwidth copper interface until 2012 at the earliest.

Thunderbolt is a high speed, dual-channel serial interface. Each channel is good for up to 10Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth (20Gbps total) and with two channels a single Thunderbolt link is enough for 40Gbps of aggregate bandwidth.

Thunderbolt can carry both PCIe and DisplayPort signaling. Apple claims that one of the channels is used for DisplayPort while the other is used for PCIe. DisplayPort interface support extends to the connector, which is physically compatible with a standard mini-DisplayPort connector. DisplayPort support is key as it allows video to be carried in addition to data, potentially allowing for some interesting use as a single cable docking solution for notebooks.

In addition to carrying up to 40Gbps of total bandwidth, a single Thunderbolt cable can also deliver up to 10W of power to connected devices.

Each Thunderbolt port can drive up to 7 daisy chained devices, although all devices must share the 40Gbps (up/down) bandwidth to the host.

There's an obvious comparison to USB 3.0 which currently tops out at 5Gbps, however even it offers only 1/4 of the total available bandwidth of the Thunderbolt PCIe channel (not to mention its inability to carry DisplayPort).

The Pegasus: Hardware
POST A COMMENT

93 Comments

View All Comments

  • xrror - Sunday, July 10, 2011 - link

    So Apple will fix all the nagging issues with Thunderbolt connectivity when... they transition to ARM. Begone evil PC people, I'm sure Apple hates it thoroughly that iMacs and MBP can be "perverted" to x86's domain of Windows.

    So when MacOS basically is superseded by iOS for their "non-handheld mobile devices" and they finally eliminate iMac and MBP since "people who didn't transition to our new taint-ARM/Apple specific processor" line of devices are obviously just lame, as proven by the poor saps holding on to their PowerPC macs. Yea it's coming full circle.

    Ugh... I really hope I'm just being paranoid/joking. But...
    Reply
  • PrincessNybor - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - link

    I'm actually looking forward to using Target Display Mode when I pick up my new 27" iMac this month (just holding out for Lion). My work computer is a 15" MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt, and while the display is good for a portable, I'd love access to a 27" display! Some of the applications I work with won't be installed on the iMac, since that will be a personal desktop and not a work machine. This is a good solution for others in my situation. Reply
  • osteopathic1 - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    I just plugged in my old 23" Cinema Display DVI into a $6 minidisplay port/DVI adapter and it worked like a charm. Reply
  • wanlewanle - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - link

    Come go and see, will not regret it Oh look

    http://www.ifancyshop.com
    Reply
  • onebear - Saturday, September 24, 2011 - link

    Please see this discussions from Apple Support forum.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3181015

    It is not working with iMac 2011. And having many unsolve issues.
    Reply
  • battguide - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    【【Dell 312-0504 노트북 배터리 ,http://www.laptopbattery.kr/battery-p.php/1+replac... 】】 Reply
  • battguide - Thursday, October 20, 2011 - link

    【【6800mAh IBM ThinkPad X40 Replacement Laptop Battery ,http://www.laptopinc.com.au/laptop-battery-p.php/1... 】】

    EL1696 is a highly effective external power battery that could be used for Laptop Computers, Digital Cameras, Digital Photo Frames, PDAs, and Mobile Phones, etc. As there are 3 output plugs, EL1696 could perform multi-task of supplying power to several devises of different voltage simultaneously. This battery is a safe product because of its build-in protection circuits, and could provide more power supply to your electronic devices. Safety and convenience are the added value of the battery.
    Reply
  • battguide - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    Your satisfaction is our eternal pursuit!

    █田█田█.∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █田█田█∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.—- [[ w w w -( laptopinc )- c o m ](AU)]
    █田█田█.★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █████.*******************
    === {{w w w }} {{ laptopinc }} {{ com }} {{AU}}====
    Reply
  • battguide - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - link

    激安!PANASONIC CF-VZSU27AU バッテリー交換
    ( 6600mAh PANASONIC CF-VZSU27AU 充電式バッテリー。互換品、新品です。ノートパーツ12ヶ月動作保証。)laptopbattery。jp/rechargeable-battery。php/PANASONIC-7816-CF-VZSU27AU。。。。。。。。。。。htm
    Reply
  • nanofunk.net - Saturday, January 07, 2012 - link

    there are lots of known problems and promise won't answer or react on any of them.
    see a roundup of problems here:

    http://www.nanofunk.net/caution-with-promise-pegas...

    also there are other issues as reported in the apple forums:
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3181015?start...

    the only thing we can currently do is to boycott promise until the give an official statement and release a bugfix to support larger HDDs and address the issues/bugs (drive-ejecting bugs, etc.)
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now