• What
    is this?
    You've landed on the AMD Portal on AnandTech. This section is sponsored by AMD. It features a collection of all of our independent AMD content, as well as Tweets & News from AMD directly. AMD will also be running a couple of huge giveaways here so check back for those.
    PRESENTED BY
POST A COMMENT

52 Comments

Back to Article

  • Mobile-Dom - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    i really want DockPort to be a thing, and i reckon it will be, but unfortunatly i dont think it will be in a reasonable amount of time, which upsets me, the idea of Dockport (and by extension Thunderolt) is great, one cable for essentially everything, it just hasnt happened with thunderbolt becasue its too dang expensive, and i dont think AMD will make DockPort a think in a timely fashion because, well thats what AMD seems to do, they're like "hey look at this awesome thing... go finish it" which, well sucks Reply
  • fteoath64 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    It makes existing USB3 standard more usable and more flexible rather than adopt a different standard like TB that is both costly in terms of chipset and cables, yet do a bit more. The PC industry cannot afford a more expensive thing for peripherals in order to go mainstream. USB2 took some time to be mainstream and USB3 should well accelerate that as will Sata Express.
    The idea is to keep extending the existing standard with faster speed and higher bandwidth to keep up with the processing ability of the cpu/gpu. Also storage capabilities.
    Reply
  • Mobile-Dom - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    like i said, i really want it to happen, i mean hey, DockPort should technically be able to do more than thunderbot should it not? USB Vs. PCIe? i could be wrong though.

    i want it to happen, but the pessimist in me is saying it wont.

    though i hope my next notebook/desktop has a Dockport port
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    With PCIe you can add any PCIe to X controller to get that functionality. All modern USB 3.0/SATA 6 Gbps controllers use PCIe 2.0 lanes from the chipset, for example, and there are plenty of PCIe to X cards out there. Thunderbolt also has a throughput boost, being able to use PCIe, meaning more daisy chaining possible. The concern there, as always is cost. TB is more expensive, but is more versatile.

    I've maintained a story for a number of years now - when the USB media kits I get at events are all USB 3.0, then USB 3.0 has a proper foot into normal use scenarios. Last year at Computex it was 50% USB 3.0, 50% USB 2.0, so there's still room for improvement if these companies are using the cheapest solution to distribute 50MB+ images. All new standards have this adoption lag, although additions to current standards might be adopted more quickly - it is hard to say.
    Reply
  • BMNify - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    its a shame given the time lag since the initial dockport announcment that we dont see USB3.1 being taken as the default for this relaunch and where is the mention of official far faster Ethernet over USB3/3.1 networking that i seem to remember being a base option way back when originally speced... Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I thought the same. Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    What you need to take into account is the time lag that will occur before certified USB 3.1 XHCI silicon is widely available, which will really be when AMD and Intel integrate it into their chipsets. For Intel that will mean what, Skylake at the earliest? I'm sure AMD will get there sooner than that, and DockPort is their baby, but realistically, waiting for USB 3.1 would be pointless. Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Skylake would make sense. That's when they're moving the secondary PCIe lanes to 3.0 as well (according to leaked roadmaps), which will mean an upgrade of the entire high speed IO controller on the chipset. USB 3.1 and PCIe 3.0 both have comparable speeds so it makes sense to do them at the same time. Reply
  • Sahrin - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    How much do you guys get paid by Intel to emphasize weakness of USB in the face of Thunderbolt? Seriously.

    There is zero reason that Thunderbolt should exist or even be discussed, except to pad Intel's bottom line. Stop talking about it, and Intel might just release the next HCI on time and we won't have to wait two years for USB3 to become the standard.
    Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Umm an external GPU dock is still really, really desirable.

    I think the market for such a thing is being underestimated, as well as the marketing opportunity that could accompany it.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Yeah, you're wrong. But at the same time, having a USB controller means the end device can be much cheaper and less complicated. Reply
  • Xajel - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    There's two things I can see, (1) the reason why Thunderbolt is expensive is because Intel want it to be a premium... and they started it with the exclusive deal with Apple first... I don't think that the chip, socket & cable costs that much... not even close.. they want more profit from it.. not to mention the license fee per device/connector...
    (2) What If AMD managed later to have a DockPort 2.0 version of it which could have PCIe data also ( the device can choose between PCIe or USB ) ? I think the reason for why they went for USB 3.0 now is to lower the costs for both adopters from the MB sides and the external devices sides.. as both USB 3.0 and DisplayPort are everywhere now and cheap to implement also ( I still hope that future DP standard will add CEC support in order for it to compete HDMI even in consumer electronics )...
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    The reason why Thunderbolt is expensive is because it's really at the edge of consumer and bordering on datacenter / HPC technology. It's a 4-channel 10.3125 Gbit/s SerDes that can tunnel multiple protocols and (finally) supports channel-bonding. According to Intel ARK, dual-port Thunderbolt 2 controllers are only $9.95. Compare that to the X540-AT2 dual-port 10GBASE-T Ethernet Controller which costs $149.79 and has a TDP 4.5 times higher. I'd love to know what the Thunderbolt licensing fees actually are, because thus far device pricing has not aligned in any way with the chip prices listed on ARK. Nevertheless, Intel has still managed to lower the cost and power consumption of external serial I/O at those kinds of data rates by an amazing amount.

    AMD probably could MUX a single PCIe 2.0 lane into DockPort, but it might be a bit more difficult and would likely increase the cost of the controller. DP can theoretically support CEC over the AUX channel.
    Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Thunderbolt chips arent that expensive on the Bill of Materials if you take a look at it over at ARK. The new thunderbolt 2.0 is $10 per chip, Thunderbolt 1.0 is even cheaper @ $5 per chip.

    Problem is, manufacturers are not willing to pass the costs savings to the end user which is slowing adoption rate.

    For Example: A dual HDD thunderbolt Enclousure is on newegg right now for $300
    2X Thunderbolt 2.0 Chips = $20
    Enclousure and wiring= $10
    total cost of Bill of materials: $30

    Throw in R&D, Marketing, Packaging this adds another $50 AT MOST. so thats $90 total, but they charge $300, raking in around 300% profit
    Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    For an I/O IC $20 is insane, USB ICs cost less than 1/10th that. You have to remember the full bill of materials includes many different components. No one is going to be enthusiastic about buying a product that isn't any functionally better but costs $18 more. Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    FYI both TB ports are handled by a single controller. Reply
  • repoman27 - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    By my reckoning, if your BOM cost exceeds 30% of your retail selling price, you're probably doing it wrong. Don't forget things like testing, certification, licensing, drivers (if required), assembly, shipping, distribution, support, warranty claims, etc. that all erode your margin.

    That being said, your BOM also has some issues. As SirKnobsworth pointed out, devices only require a single Thunderbolt controller, even if they are dual-port. However, for a typical HDD RAID enclosure, you will need a SATA host controller which will run ~$2-$5. You also need to deal with the DisplayPort output aspect of Thunderbolt. While the newer controllers have made great strides at integrating most of what is required, the original controllers, which many designs are still based on, were sorely lacking. Take a gander at the original LaCie Thunderbolt Little Big Disk: http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/1411/IMG_022... There's something like 30 ICs on that board, and nearly half of them, about $14 worth, are just to handle the DP signal in case someone plugs a display into the thing.

    Compare that to the new Thunderbolt 2 version: http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/3296/DSC_466... Things are way less complicated, and since it uses a PCIe SSD, there's no need for a SATA controller. There are however a couple TI TPS22981 Thunderbolt PMICs, which run $1.24 each, a couple 2Mb serial flash modules at $0.56 each, an NXP LPC11E14FHN33/401 ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller for $1.38, and what I'm guessing is a Parade PS181 DP to Dual-Mode DP format converter for another ~$3.50, although I can't make out the markings in any of the photos I've come across. Plus additional for the passives, PCBs, connectors, heat sink / fan assembly, switch, power supply, cable (if included), etc.

    The bottom line is that historically, the premium for single port Thunderbolt devices has started around $80 and for dual-port devices at about $180, which appears to be well beyond what can be justified by the BOM alone. I'm curious to see if prices come down as everything becomes much more tightly integrated, or if OEMs will continue to toe the line. It's hard to say how much of the pricing issue is due to onerous licensing terms from Intel, or just the relatively small potential customer base thus far.

    @Flunk - $20 for an I/O IC that provides 4x 10 Gbit/s channels is insanely cheap, and if we believe ARK, it's actually only $9.95. Can you point to any other IC that provides that kind of throughput per $? For applications that can use the bandwidth, it's potentially worth the premium. Unless you're talking about serious RAIDs, Thunderbolt HDD enclosures are almost as silly as USB 3.0 mice.
    Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Hotswapping PCIe SSDs like flashdrives would be pretty awesome, IMO. Could even replace CompactFlash. Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    So I'm confused, this is (somehow) USB3 over a physical displayport connection, which allows daisy-chaining rather than forcing a hub? And you can plug-in to power/charge at the end of the daisy-chain? And it can pass displayport video as well? That is super cool, if it's cheap.

    Like most people, I've been waiting for a good external thunderbolt PCI-e graphics solution for a long ass time. I want to buy a macbook air, plug in a little $100 box with my own Geforce 760, and get console-level graphics. But for whatever reason, nobody has seen fit to provide such a thing.
    Reply
  • TheStu - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    The problems are:
    1. Intel limits that sort of thing. You have to get the thunderbolt controllers from them, and they won't always license them if they don't like what your doing.
    2. Power. A 760 needs about 150w of power, which requires a power brick that weighs about as much as the MacBook Air you're hooking it up to.

    I've done a lot of research into this, and am trying to develop a cost effective solution, but those are the stumbling blocks.
    Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I can't speak to 1, although I'm sure you're right.

    But for 2, I would not expect a portable solution. I just want a docking station that can fit a competitive mid-range GPU. Huge power brick is A-OK. And really, pricing at $300 would be OK too.
    Reply
  • BMNify - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    well there are existing External Single PCI Express Enclosure's like the http://www.netstor.com.tw/_03/03_02.php?OTk but you wont want to pay the costs for just a box and a card ....

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/netstor-na221a-nb-p... £314.40 Inc VAT
    Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Yes, expresscard solutions exist, but they aren't very good. Not enough bandwidth. Needs to be thunderbolt or another similar pcie channel extension like SATA express.

    Also, 315 pounds sterling is >$500. That's a lot of frickin' money. Needs to be cheaper. What I really want is the following, for roughly $300:

    1 double-width PCI-e slot with at least 4 pcie channels (8 would be better)
    4 USB3 ports
    1 headphone jack
    1 optical audio jack
    1 daisy-chain port (SATA express, thunderbolt, etc, whatever it uses)

    Whoever delivers this product will make a crapton of money.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I doubt that if that is ever available it will cost that little. Each TB controller only has 4 PCIe lanes, which means this device would need to have a PLX chip for additional PCIe switching. Those aren't particularly cheap. And that's on top of an audio interface, a USB3 controller, and a power supply which can power a desktop graphics card. Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Yeah the whole point is for an ULP by day, gaming PC by night. Accompany a ULV Haswell/Broadwell, and give the thing huge thermal headroom for its CPU cores when plugging in the dGPU (so no bottlenecking). Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    You're right - USB3. Which is too slow for GPUs. For pretty much anything else it's fine.

    And you're after console level graphics? The current IGPs already surpass PS3 and XB360. Overtaking the new ones will take a few more years, though.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    PS3 and Xbox 360 both use IGPs and they're over 7 years old at this point. PC IGPs that surpass their performance are not impressive, we could have had that sort of performance 7 years ago if the manufacturers had wanted to put it out. Reply
  • lmcd - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    They were not iGPUs to start, and even now the PS3 GPU is on a separate die. Reply
  • winterspan - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    It's more complicated than that. The first version of thunderbolt wasn't even close to fast enough for a decent GPU. TB 2.0 (20gbps) is definitely closer, but it would still constrain a high end GPU. It also requires a special driver to be developed for OSX and windows. I'm sure you'll see a commercial version soon of the prototypes that have been seen out there.
    I had an expresscard->PCIe box with an ATI 3770 back in the day. It worked adequately, but could be really flaky. Also if the express card got unplugged the system would immediately crash (probably unavoidable)

    That said, i would pay top dollar for a reliable thunderbolt based GPU for my MacBook Air (even if it can only support a midrange GPU until TB 3.0) and it would be particularly awesome if it worked with windows.
    Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    this needs to be a thing.

    royalty free for widespread adoption, and the addition of power, have the potential to be a brilliant addition to all motherboards/tablet devices.
    Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Did you ever see the Family Guy episode where Stewie made an f'ed up clone of himself he called "Bitch Stewie?" AMD has just made "Bitch Thunderbolt." Reply
  • BMNify - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    remember Intel Light Peak ? then Thunderbolt is also a "Bitch Light Peak" OC that's been 4 years so we should be seeing real Si Photonics soon, even if its Only as a data carrier and not the real deal Si Photonic processing Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Yeah, but I also remember that Light Peak had nothing to do with silicon photonics. It used conventional VCSELs for the external transceivers instead of the copper versions that Thunderbolt uses, but the host controller was more or less identical. Why is it that people have such a hard-on for lasers? Did everyone think that TOSLINK was the best interconnect standard ever or something?

    It's more like AMD just made "Bitch MHL", although on second thought, I'm not sure who would be the bitch in that situation.
    Reply
  • edzieba - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    "Sound familiar? Like Thunderbolt familiar?"

    Actually, sounds familiar, like OneLink familiar. Lenovo's docking port is really a power connector and displayport connector carrying an extra USB3 link for ethernet and port breakout on an internal hub.
    Little chance it'll be compatible with DockPort though, particularly with the price of OneLink docks outside of the US.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I'm surprised that Anandtech, of all places, still isn't reporting how DockPort actually works, all of which is detailed on TI's website: http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/hd3ss2521.pdf?DCM...

    The bottom line is that it requires a chip on the host PC which simply muxes the SuperSpeed USB send and receive pairs with lanes 2 and 3 of a DisplayPort 1.2 main link. It also uses the DisplayPort CONFIG1 and CONFIG2 lines for the USB 2.0 signal, and has provisions for power delivery. If the attached devices use SuperSpeed USB, it will only have a 2-lane DP link running at 5.4 Gbit/s, which is effectively the same bandwidth as DP 1.1a. If you want to connect more than one display to a single port, you need to include a relatively spendy DP 1.2 MST hub in the device. All USB devices will be sharing the 500 MB/s bandwidth of a single USB 3.0 port (or less, depending on what else is connected to the host controller), or a paltry single USB 2.0 port if more than 2 DP lanes are required. All DockPort cables will be captive to the device per VESA requirements.

    This is not at all like Thunderbolt, which is a 4-channel, 10.3125 Gbit/s serial I/O controller which supports daisy chaining and can transport PCIe, DisplayPort and TCP/IP packets along with 10 W of power over dual-channel links.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    They'll probably bump to DisplayPort 1.3 and USB 3.1 in the not-too-distant future, which will alleviate some of the capacity constraints. It's never going to keep up with Thunderbolt's active cabling and more involved signal routing but it will be cheaper, and probably simpler to implement. Reply
  • SilentSin - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Given how cheap it is to implement this tech I think OEMs will run with it (unless "forced" to do otherwise). http://www.anandtech.com/show/7649/dockport-adopte...

    Check out the chip in the Acer V5 which was released a long time ago...part # seems eerily similar as does the functionality. http://semiaccurate.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2055...

    The modular parts in the youtube video look pretty awesome. I do wish AMD could launch some of those products to retail along with what was shown at CES. I'm sure OEMs will use some of the ideas eventually, but they always seem to screw up at least one key aspect.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    The chip in that Acer V5 is in fact the same TI DockPort controller which I linked to the datasheet for earlier. I have a feeling that DockPort will mostly be implemented by OEMs who also offer branded adapters and docks, as Acer does: http://store.acer.com/store/aceramer/en_US/pd/Them...

    The modular accessories are masking the fact that DockPort cables must be captive, so making the cable zero length would result in little thumb drive like modules. You never tend to see USB thumb drives with integrated USB hubs so that they can be stacked together in that way though, so I'm not sure what would make that paradigm take off.
    Reply
  • goozira - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I'm just wondering how DockPort sends data. Say if I have a RAID storage box, can it send the data across the Displayport side or would it only send data using USB 3.0 and it would be limited to USB speeds. Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    DockPort sends data using USB 3.0. It's literally just a few switches and some logic that allow a DisplayPort 1.2 port and a USB 3.0 port to share the pins of a standard MiniDP receptacle. It also has provisions for power delivery that are similar to the USB Power Delivery Specification.

    DockPort is about reducing the number of cables required to connect certain types of devices by 1 or maybe 2. It introduces no new features and yet makes several compromises along the way.
    Reply
  • shank15217 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    What compromises? Reply
  • repoman27 - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    The biggest one is that using SuperSpeed USB reduces the DisplayPort main link to 2 lanes. Unless you're connecting a display with a DP 1.2 sink on board (which are rather uncommon at this point), that would limit you to 1920x1200 resolutions at 60 Hz, 24 bpp. If you want to use MST to drive more than a single display, you have to press a button which disables SuperSpeed USB and relegates you to a single shared USB 2.0 port for all connected devices.

    Also the use of DP_PWR means that all DockPort devices need to have tethered cables per the VESA specification.

    Honestly, for the intended market, these are completely reasonable trade-offs though.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Monday, February 17, 2014 - link

    That's a good point.....I guess you can't do dual-1080p if monitors only support 2.7Gbps DP1.1. Reply
  • speculatrix - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    a colleague recently bought a cheap Acer laptop which has a combo displayport + usb port, and Acer have adaptors which can give you VGA or HDMI out along with with USB ports and network.

    I am wondering whether it's in any way similar to the AMD standard, or Acer's proprietary take on the idea.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Note my reply to SilentSin above. Proprietary name (Mini Converter Port / Mini CP) but same TI DockPort silicon. I believe Acer may have beaten AMD's branding to market though, and now that it's part of the VESA DisplayPort standard, they might decide to drop the Converter Port nomenclature. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I'm not really getting the point to this...I mean it's just Displayport + USB 3.0 over the same connection? Is there any real need for that? Displayport is barely used, and I can't see this doing much better, all to save having a second cable...and even then not really, since you'll still need regular USB connections somewhere (like on your "Dockport" monitor).

    I don't know...this seems like a cheaper way to do something similar to Thunderbolt, but like Thunderbolt (and Displayport itself) I don't see this really taking off.

    Like others, I still think the idea of easily chaining multiple monitors is cool (if there's no tradeoff), and I still see the idea of being able to attach an external GPU through Thunderbolt as REALLY cool...but we're just not seeing much adoption of any of that. Aside from one system from Sony, no Thunderbolt external GPUs (and what we really want is a dock that works with ANY video card-throw in a Titan or whatever and connect it to your notebook and it works without special drivers).

    But none of this is actually happening. There's barely any Displayport monitors, almost everything, notebooks, desktops, and monitors, are using DVI/HDMI and USB 3.0. I just don't see this other stuff as ever taking off, since we've had it for years and it's not taking off.
    Reply
  • schizoide - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    4k is coming fast. You'll be using displayport if you buy a new monitor in 18 months. Reply
  • SirKnobsworth - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    What DockPort offers is convenience. Plenty of people bring their laptops around with them, but want a bigger display when they're at home. So rather than coming home and plugging in power, the display, and let's say a USB keyboard and some speakers, you plug in one DockPort cable which handles all that.

    You're probably right that it's probably not going to appear in many displays. What it will appear in is docking stations for laptops which provide a display output, USB ports, audio, power and maybe a NIC.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    You missed power. This cable provides enough power to run the laptop. That's kind of the point. Reply
  • CSMR - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    What we need is a standardized dock. This is close but not there.
    Charging (45W or more), multiple USB connections, displayport, ethernet: I.e. standard laptop connections.
    There is no need to fit everything into a displayport cable. I do not believe that all the above can be pushed into an existing displayport cable without compromise.
    Pushing it into an existing displayport connector creates confusion, when people plug this into monitors directly instead of into a dock, or plug a regular displayport output into a dock.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Monday, February 17, 2014 - link

    > creates confusion, when people plug this into monitors
    That still works.
    Reply
  • Darksurf - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    " The main competition is of course with Intel's Thunderbolt, where one of the features I am most looking forward to is Graphics over TB. That will not be possible with DockPort,"

    What are you talking about?? You just wrote it was possible AND embedded a video showing LINKing and Daisy-Chaining of Monitors via DockPort....

    "Share video or run multiple video screens"

    Are you talking about external video cards?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now