Image Courtesy iFixit

Thunderbolt has seen limited use this year - the standard has only been implemented by Apple and Sony, the rest of the PC market will have to wait until next year when Intel offers a new pair of Thunderbolt controllers to OEMs designing Ivy Bridge systems.

Currently there are two Thunderbolt controllers available: Light Ridge and Eagle Ridge. Light Ridge is the bigger chip that features four Thunderbolt channels  (4 x 10Gbps bidirectional = 80Gbps aggregate bandwidth) and two DisplayPort outputs, it's used in the MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iMac. Eagle Ridge is a smaller version of the controller (also available in a small form factor package) used in the MacBook Air. Eagle Ride is effectively half of a Light Ridge, sporting two Thunderbolt channels and one DP output.

Next year we'll see the introduction of two new Thunderbolt controllers, both called Cactus Ridge. The specs are identical to Light and Eagle Ridge, there will be a four and a two channel version. Both chips will be available in a 12mm x 12mm package. No word on pricing but let's hope they are reasonably priced so we may actually see widespread adoption of Thunderbolt next year.

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  • iwodo - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    It will be very nice if you could tell me what 12mm x 12mm means?
    Is it smaller then Eagle Ridge or same size?
  • FaaR - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    12mm means "twelve millimeters". You know, the metric system? Look it up on Wikipedia if you've never heard of it before, almost the entire world is using metric measurements, except for the united states and a few other backwards hillbilly idiot countries.
  • FaaR - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Apologies for my poor reply. I should have made a more constructive post.

    The image at the top of the page depicts the TB controller in the Macbook Air. Judging by its proportons in relation to other components it would seem probable it's roughly 12mm-ish square; certainly not bigger. Intel should have datasheets on the component in question if it's important to know its exact dimensions.
  • repoman27 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Light Ridge is 15mm x 15mm. The actual chip is much smaller, but the flip chip package ends up being about 15mm / side.

    The Eagle Ridge controller used in the MacBook Air is about 8.5mm x 8.5mm, or maybe even a tad less than that.

    Unfortunately it doesn't seem that Intel is providing any technical documents to the general public at this time.
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    While it may be accurate to say that Thunderbolt has seen limited implementation this year, to put it in perspective, with just two OEMs producing PCs with TB host controllers, TB will have a higher attach rate in 2011 than USB 3.0 had in 2010.

    Your description of Thunderbolt having one or two DP "outputs" is intriguing to me. The current chips support 2 or 4 x 10 Gbps channels (1 or 2 ports), each of which is capable of transporting a DP 1.1a stream (among other things). So theoretically, with daisy chain-able displays such as the ATD, you could attach 2 displays to each port. The limitations would seem to be on the back side of the TB controller, in that they only support 1 or 2 DP connections from either the iGPU or dGPU. One thing I've never been quite clear on is whether these inputs are DP 1.2 or 1.1a. While a single 10 Gbps TB channel can only carry an 8.64 Gbps maximum DP 1.1a stream, if the inputs on the host controller were DP 1.2 then each input could be used to drive multiple displays using MST, and driving 4 displays would be possible with a 2 port controller.

    Are the 1 or 2 DP inputs for Cactus Ridge DP 1.2? And if the connections for PCIe remained the same at 4 lanes, are they PCIe 2.0 or 3.0?
  • AbRASiON - Friday, September 16, 2011 - link

    Bad bad implimentation, it's never going to get anywhere.

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