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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  • jabber - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Ok lets see, how much does a USB controller cost to put on a MB?

    How much does a USB3.0 controller cost to put on a MB?

    Then how much does a Thunderbolt controller cost? Not to mention the cables.

    It's really got to be within pennies of USB3.0 to get any serious adoption. I doubt thats the case.
  • Synaesthesia - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    It doesn't have to cost pennies, motherboards cost hundreds of dollars, if it costs a couple of bucks, the PC will hardly cost any more.
  • knedle - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - link

    Unfortunately, it's not how it works.

    It costs a couple of bucks for company, that makes mobos, then they add something around 20% to that and sell those mobos to companies that import them to other countries, then those companies add another 20% to that and sell them to other companies, that sell those mobos on-line, then those companies add another 20% and sell it to you.

    So even if at first some mobo costs only 100$, after all those +20% it will cost 173$. This is a lot of money, and if you add to this another couple of bucks + 73%, it gets even bigger.
  • Hector2 - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Anything new costs more than what's out there today. It happened for USB and every new DDRx DIMM that's come out. Today USB is cheap (USB 3.0 a little more) and once DIMMs get into full production, you can get them for $50. I've been watching this for 35 years in the business.

    Intel's Light Peak technology is amazing. Yes, the price right now is more, but it'll come down as the volumes go up. Eventually, everything will have optical interfaces.
  • FaaR - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    It's of course not just DDRx memories that were more expensive than mainstream memory when they were new, it also happened with EDO RAM, then fast pagemode before that, and so on. DRAM itself was just CRAZY expensive back when it was new, and then Intel came with a revolutionary IC that was like half the price of the competition, and so on...

    I'm one of those who believe in thunderbolt, it's an amazing interface. We've never had anything like it, 80Gbit/s and 20 watts of power in a tiny little connector for a highly affordable price even now in its infancy, with up to 3m cable length (I believe.) It's totally unheard of in the entire history of computing.

    I totally don't understand the people who refuse to be excited by the possibilities and instead prefer to poo-poo thunderbolt, I myself believe it's just good ol' prejudiced apple hate at work because they pioneered the tech.

    Admittedly, right now we don't quite know what to do with all of this, but that'll change soon. There's already a PCIe chassis on its way, and even though this particular product won't handle any high-powered graphics cards its still going to be useful for a lot of people. We can stick 10Gbit networking cards in that box, a monster PCIe SSD along with a video capture board or whatever else tickles our fancy, or whatever.
  • MobiusStrip - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    Except it's not Light Peak anymore. It's just Copper Plain.

    Still better than USB, but a cop-out on the original plan nonetheless.
  • TypeS - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Why do people like you continue to be blind and ignorant about Intel's Light Peak/Thunderbolt technology? USB is a seperate Serial bus (Universal Serial Bus) and Intel's Light Peak is an extension of PCI express. It's not directed at people looking for cheap external storage or peripherals. Think of all the PCI/PCIe add on cards out there (not just USB devices) and you begin to see how useful Light Peak/Thunderbolt can be.

    It's use will most likely be targeted at workstations, not consumer desktops. External graphics, external storage arrays, etc for mobile workstations.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    Becuase they are looking for a reason to not want it.
  • MobiusStrip - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    "It's use will most likely be targeted at workstations"

    It shouldn't be. It stands to provide the greatest benefit to laptops, which can't accept add-in boards, and that often suffer from limited internal storage, storage speed, and available I/O ports.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link


    Thunderbolts speed and ability daisy chaining monitors, storage and many other devices is highly desirable to alot of people. It smokes USB 3.0 is many ways.

    Not everyone buys $500 Best Buy laptops.

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