Eagle Ridge: The Cheaper, (optionally) Smaller Thunderbolt Controllerby Anand Lal Shimpi on July 28, 2011 3:42 AM EST
- Posted in
If you've seen any of the new Thunderbolt Macs torn apart you will recognize the piece of silicon above. That flip-chip package is Intel's first Thunderbolt controller, codename: Light Ridge (clever). It features four Thunderbolt channels (4 x 10Gbps bidirectional = 80Gbps aggregate bandwidth) and up to two DisplayPort outputs. It's used in the 2011 iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini.
This is Eagle Ridge, it's little brother:
Eagle Ridge is available in two form factors (normal and SFF) and is effectively half of a Light Ridge chip. That means you only get two Thunderbolt channels (2 x 10Gbps bidirectional = 40Gbps aggregate bandwidth) and one DP output. Apple used the small form factor version of Eagle Ridge in its new MacBook Air to cut cost and save on motherboard real estate. The MacBook Air's GPU also doesn't support more than one external display so there was no point in using a Thunderbolt controller with two DP outputs. Note that performance is identical to Light Ridge as we demonstrated in our review here.
I'd expect to see Eagle Ridge, not Light Ridge as the Thunderbolt IC of choice for OEMs going forward. At least if price is a concern.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
phatboye - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkNo really interested in Intel's proprietary thunderbolt interconnect. Even though USB3 is not as fast as thunderbolt, It has enough bandwidth to hold me over for a few years plus it's backwards compatible with older USB peripherals.
Hopefully this new external PCI-e connect that the PCI-sig is working on will be better.
medys - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkCan you connect a monitor via USB3??
Thunderbolt is meant to replace docking stations, not USB.
DanNeely - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkThere're USB2 video adapters, although they're limited to mostly static contend due to bandwidth limits. USB3 has the bandwidth to run monitors reasonably well, being midway between a single and dual link connection. Looser QoS constraints might be a problem, but that's not answerable until the first adapters become available.
jordanclock - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkNot really. Thunderbolt is meant to replace ANY kind of cable since it is protocol agnostic. It can even carry USB, thus supplanting it. The whole point of Thunderbolt is that you don't need to care what kind of devices you're connecting or for what purposes; The devices figure out the details, you just plug them in.
TypeS - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkAre you that ignorant and clueless? There are many other technologies that Intel has created as well (by themselves or with others) that are used widely today. Just because some new technology is made by Intel, doesn't make it proprietary. Have you even read what Intel's intentions for Light Peak/Thunderbolt are? You must not have.
Also the way you compare it to USB3 is also another show of your ignorance. Thunderbolt is not meant to be an alternative to USB3, it's meant to be much more since it's an external PCIe bus. Just because all you might want to use something like Thunderbolt or USB for is external storage doesn't mean that's all everyone else does.
Learn and think before you post.
mcnabney - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkThe very DEFINITION of proprietary is something that is developed/owned by a single company. And Intel isn't Google, they never give anything away just to 'improve the market'.
His post seemed pretty clear. The added features/bandwidth of Thunderbolt isn't needed BY HIM yet. And he is right. How many computer users actually need to manipulate 4 uncompressed video streams at the same time? Not many. This isn't a new interconnect on a server - this is being slapped onto every Apple computer.
GuinnessKMF - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkPeople buying Apples are already paying a premium, if that means that money goes into the pockets of innovation instead of "ooh shiny" I'm all for it. I wish every Apple came with an SSD, so the prices on those would drop faster.
I agree that this isn't for everyone, and that it's not just a replacement for USB. Apples bill themselves as premium products, I'm sure the Thunderbolt controller is not significantly contributing to the cost (a few bucks), as these are higher margin machines, not slim margin Dell/HP entry level computers.
fnord123 - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link
USB was co-developed by Intel and the first USB controllers were shipped by Intel.
EHCI (that standardized USB2 controller interfaces) was driven in large part by Intel.
PCI was started at Intel.
Intel was a major contributor for the contribution of PCIe.
phatboye - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link"Are you that ignorant and clueless?"
Neither, but lets point out how ignorant you are shall we.
"There are many other technologies that Intel has created as well (by themselves or with others) that are used widely today. Just because some new technology is made by Intel, doesn't make it proprietary."
The fact that Intel developed Thunderbolt does not make this technology proprietary, it's the fact that Intel has not released the spec to other companies so that they came make competing Thunderbolt controllers is what makes Thunderbolt proprietary.
Yes I do know that the original USB spec was created at Intel but unlike Thunderbolt, Intel opened the USB spec to other companies and thus USB is not consider proprietary.
"Have you even read what Intel's intentions for Light Peak/Thunderbolt are? You must not have."
It's obviously you that have no idea what you are talking about.
"Also the way you compare it to USB3 is also another show of your ignorance. Thunderbolt is not meant to be an alternative to USB3"
Regardless of how you see or use Thunderbolt or if Thunderbolt has more capabilities than USB3, the fact of the matter is that Thunderbolt _IS_ an alternative to USB3 and if Thunderbolt were to ever gain wide scale acceptance you would notice that USB3 usage would go down as Thunderbolt usage goes up.
"it's meant to be much more since it's an external PCIe bus."
That in no way changes the fact that it is a competitor to the USB standard. In fact many review sites (google if you don't believe me) have compared the Thunderbolt standard to USB in their reviews of Thunderbolt. So it's not just me who thinks Thunderbolt is a competitor to USB3.
Even Anandtech's own articles compare Thunderbolt to USB3. Here is a direct quote from an article posted on Anandtech about Thunderbolt a few months ago.
"Thunderbolt already faces competition from 4.8 Gbps USB 3.0 which has already seen a lot of adoption on the PC side. The parallels between USB 2.0 / FireWire and USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt are difficult to ignore, and ultimately peripheral availability and noticeable speed differences will sell one over the other in the long run."
"Just because all you might want to use something like Thunderbolt or USB for is external storage doesn't mean that's all everyone else does."
See last statement
"Learn and think before you post"
bigboxes - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - linkThank you for saying what we were all thinking. USB3.0 will suffice until they develop USB4.0. I understand the need to develop new technologies. I also understand the need to be practical. I like the fact that USB3.0 is backwards compatible. I dislike the fact that Intel hasn't backed USB3.0 as a native standard in their chipsets. That would have sped up it's adoption rate. We now see why they didn't.