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Octavean
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join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
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2 edits

Intel is looking to PCIe expansion cards to save Thunderbolt

quote:
Intel’s plan for Thunderbolt PCIe cards has not been finalized, and the slides seen by VR-Zone showed a lot was left to be determined. What the slides did reveal was a structured outline to bring Thunderbolt to a larger PC audience, with help from ODMs, via PCIe.

Intel is planning on designing a reference Thunderbolt add in card for ODM reference. ODMs will do the last leg of the design work, then manufacture the cards. Intel is planning on limiting the ODM pool to those who already have Thunderbolt motherboard designs. All add in cards and motherboards must be certified together and must contain prominent “Thunderbolt ready” identifiers according to Intel.

Read more: »vr-zone.com/articles/thunderbolt···cT3FdUol

»vr-zone.com/articles/thunderbolt···677.html

Perhaps I misunderstood the artical but it seems as though motherboards will have to have an updated design not unlike the Asus line of motherboards with their proprietary TB_Header in order to work with such add-in Thunderbolt PCIe cards,....(like the Asus ThunderboltEX card that was never released due to Intel certification issues),....

Hummmmm,......

I kind of want to like Thunderbolt but Intel is really making it hard,....


koitsu
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Mountain View, CA
kudos:23
An add-on PCIe card is a thumbs down for me. While I imagine a lot of people would find this useful (and that's good!), I give it a thumbs down because my system already has limited airflow in that area due to existing cards installed and GPUs which take up 2 slots (and now sometimes 3). I would much rather have the IC and header on the motherboard itself (saves wires (the GPIO connection) getting in the way of fans/etc. too).

Remember: Light Peak (now called Thunderbolt) was introduced at a 2009 IDF. That was 4 years ago. The adoption rate has been virtually nil, and only one of the TB controllers supports DisplayPort 1.2 (once you read the features you'll see why it's important).

The funniest thing (to me) about TB is how it advertises "daisy chaining" like it's some kind of brand spanking new technology.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.


DarkLogix
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Well I'd like an add-in card for the ability to add it to older systems, though for newer systems I want it on the I/O panel (but still with the ability to add an add-in card if more is desired)
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shinjuru
Premium,Mod
join:2000-10-29
West Coast
reply to Octavean
I really liked the speeds of the ThunderBolt port on my MacBook. I always wished I could have one on my PC.


Octavean
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join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
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1 recommendation

reply to koitsu
I think a motherboard designed with integrated Thunderbolt connectivity is ideal but I don't think it should be the only option. An add-in PCIe Thunderbolt card would have already been on the market if it weren't for Intel's rigorous certification process stalling the Asus ThinderboltEX card.

Still,....
quote:
According to a slide that outlines the concept card’s specs, each add in card will contain a Falcon Ridge 2C controller, one Thunderbolt connector, one standard DP input connector, one GPIO header and cable and a bundled internal display port loopback cable. The card will require a PCIe x4 or wider slot from the motherboard’s platform controller hub, a supporting BIOS that can manage SMBus as well as hot plug events, and an internal display port output connector.

Read more: »vr-zone.com/articles/thunderbolt···cTcyDNka

Looking at the specs, it doesn't look like an add-in card will be an option for many motherboards already on the market that don't take the spec into account.

Again I might be misinterpreting the artical but it still looks like a video subsystem must be present on the motherboard. So a Z77 or Z87 motherboard with an Intel processor using an Intel iGPU will presumably have the necessary prerequisite but a higher-end platform like the X79 / LGA2011 wouldn't.

Yet another issue with Thunderbolt. It has a premium price, was delayed or had impeded deployment on the PC platform in favor of the Mac (which has a smaller market share) likely due to some back room deal and its considered more premium then USB 3.0.

The problem is that the more premium platform was denied Thunderbolt seemingly for no other reason then the spec requirening an Intel video subsystem,....which is a contradiction of the premium positioning Intel has been asserting for Thunderbolt all along.

Intel is simply getting in their own way when it comes to Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 2 is presumably going to be released on the new Mac Pro and history will repeat itself,....

BlitzenZeus
Burnt Out Cynic
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As much as I liked the idea, I'm not sure that thunderbolt will be popular on pc hardware other than apple who has specifically made hardware for it, and the proposed mac pro would have six thunderbolt connections. The various manufacturers might ignore it like they did firewire due to the costs, and the lack of hardware to use it. If they made it a standard on motherboards that would help it's acceptance, but we can't count on that. At least newer hardware might have the ability to use an addon card if they follow intel specs, and are certified. On proprietary package systems which use cheap matx boards we can't count on that either.

Intel gave Apple the advantage here, and with their control over the hardware released they can make it viable.

Too bad it's the gamers who really wanted it for things like laptops, hook up a real gaming card to thunderbolt, and use your laptop as a gaming machine. As much as I hate how proprietary laptops can be.

I'm not holding my breath for when it's available for your average pc, and if the cable alone are going to cost $30 they can keep them.
--
I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires- Susan B. Anthony
Yesterday we obeyed kings, and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to the truth- Kahlil G.


Octavean
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New York, NY
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reply to Octavean
Click for full size
Hummmm,......

quote:
ASUS Announces Z87 Deluxe Quad Motherboard

ASUS is excited to announce the world's first motherboard certified by Intel with Thunderbolt 2 technology, the Z87-Deluxe/Quad. Based on the new Intel Z87 chipset and ready for the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors, the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad ATX motherboard has two Thunderbolt 2 ports which allow for up to 12 simultaneously connected devices. Each port is capable of up to a 20Gbit/s transfer rate and is backward compatible with first generation Thunderbolt.

"Z87-Deluxe/Quad has been subjected to a tremendous amount of compatibility, BIOS, as well as video/audio and other tests to verify its quality and design," said Joe Hsieh, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Motherboard and Desktop System Business Unit. "Being the world's first certified motherboard for Thunderbolt 2 technology also means setting the standard for all of the upcoming products, which is something that ASUS has always done."
ASUS
»www.techpowerup.com/189302/asus-···ard.html

Not sure when this new Asus Z87 Deluxe Quad motherboard will be available but I would like to get my hands on one. Perhaps I stand partially corrected then if they can launch this before the new Mac Pro.

I'm guessing a ~$400 price tag on this motherboard BTW,...


DarkLogix
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so how does thunderbolt compare to PCIe 3.0 16x bandwidth wise?

I'm thinking if my idea for an external quad SLI kit were to get made some day maybe an array of thunder bolt links could be used.
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Jan Janowski
Premium
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Skokie, IL
Reviews:
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reply to Octavean
There are other issues...
Overall, your PCIE buss can only handle so much bandwidth.
If you have a High Bandwidth display and disc controller card on PCIE, how much overall bandwidth is left?

My issue with simelar but the same: The motherboard I had had 2 different Disc Busses on the motherboard ahead of the PCIE buss... I intentionally put boot on one buss, and Media on other buss, so Windows wouldn't slow down media...

What I ran into wasn't PCIE buss backup, it was Southbridge Overheating issues, as everything then had to go through that, and it became the next 'weakest' link... Changing fans from 3 pin to 4 pin and later Bios Fan options fixed that....

But it just goes to show you that bandwidth is everything....
I was hoping that Thunderbolt would be implemented upstream of the PCIE buss..
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DarkLogix
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Well PCIE is dedicated per lane bandwidth, not shared like older PCI

Each lane has X amount of bandwidth, now on latest gen intel boards you have 3.0 lanes off the CPU and 2.0 lanes off the southbridge (well the new southbridge with haswell might make those 3.0 as well not sure off hand)

so there is no upstream of PCIE, you're at the CPU already.
Now sure they could redo the CPU to put thunder right on the chip but frankly that's foolish.

a 2011 CPU has 40 3.0 PCIe lanes per socket (so a dual socket can have 80 3.0 lanes) plus IIRC 16 2.0 lanes via the southbridge which is linked to the CPU via a QPI link (the 2011 xeon's have 2 open QPI links so one links to the Southbridge and one to the other CPU and then the other CPU has one that a mobo maker can do something with, IE they could do dual southbridges if they wanted)

IMO it'd be interesting if intel opened the QPI links on non-xeons again (like back in 1366's) then make a new south bridge that would be made for thunderbolt
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Octavean
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1 edit
reply to Octavean
Before release of the Acer Iconia W700 the specs were impressive IMO because it was the only Windows x86 / x64 PC tablet with Intel Thunderbolt. The production model dropped Thunderbolt support though and it just became another PC tablet lacking distinction,…IMO.

Now many may question the value of Thunderbolt given the ubiquitous good enough USB 3.0 state of things. However, when Thunderbolt was first released on the Mac platform it was a noteworthy option by virtu of the fact that Apple computers were and still are largely closed systems with few expansion options.

This is why I mentioned the Acer Iconia W700 series of PC tablets earlier. Small, closed, locked down systems gaining similar expansion options as larger open platforms like desktop PC systems have a lot of potential for those of whom want and need more from their hardware.

So arguably Thunderbolt is of much less use on a larger, more open platform like a desktop PC or server.

I still see Intel leveraging Intel graphics in Thunderbolt as a mandatory part of the spec as just another obstruction holding it back.


Mike
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reply to Octavean
Thunderbolt will never make it on non-macs.

It's going to be the new Firewire.


Octavean
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Touche,....

However, one might argue that Thunderbolt has not and never will make it on the Mac platform as well.

BlitzenZeus
Burnt Out Cynic
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When given limited options on the apple side they'll use it, but otherwise on the pc side hdmi/dvi/displayport and usb 3.0/2.0 will provide most of what it can. I still truly wanted the gaming card thunderbolt enclosure for laptops provided it could be supported correctly.
--
I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires- Susan B. Anthony
Yesterday we obeyed kings, and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to the truth- Kahlil G.


urbanriot
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reply to Octavean
said by Octavean:

However, one might argue that Thunderbolt has not and never will make it on the Mac platform as well.

If you attend any technology trade shows you'll encounter plenty of companies that feel otherwise. Practically every company that makes a NAS box also makes a Thunderbolt box of some sort, aimed at multimedia creation folks.

n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA
reply to DarkLogix
Current Thunderbolt specs have up to four 10 Gbps links (dependent on the controllers being used), with each link going in one direction. Thunderbolt 2 allows link aggregation, so it can do two 20 Gbps links.

PCIe 3.0 x16 does about 126 Gbps, so you'd need a lot of Thunderbolt ports and controllers to make up the difference.
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pnjunction
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Toronto, ON
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reply to Octavean
Expansion cards LOL. Yeah people love those.

Shove thunderbolt and get me 10 Gbps LAN equipment at consumer prices.


DarkLogix
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reply to n_w95482
said by n_w95482:

Current Thunderbolt specs have up to four 10 Gbps links (dependent on the controllers being used), with each link going in one direction. Thunderbolt 2 allows link aggregation, so it can do two 20 Gbps links.

PCIe 3.0 x16 does about 126 Gbps, so you'd need a lot of Thunderbolt ports and controllers to make up the difference.

you say 4 10gb links, is that 40gb on one cable or per cable? (I know sas has one connector that has 4 channels on a single cable, but that's still only 24gb on the sas cable.

so if thats 4 links on one cable then thats 40gbps per cable, and you'd then need about 3 cables per 16x
(then add in 4 16x's and you have 12cables (ya adds up fast)

sounds like the tech wouldn't be the right method for linking 4 16x 3.0 slots to an external case
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n_w95482
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Ukiah, CA
From what I can tell, it looks like two 10 Gbps links in each direction currently, or one 20 Gbps link in each direction with Thunderbolt 2.
--
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Cthen

join:2004-08-01
Detroit, MI
Reviews:
·Verizon Wireless..
reply to Octavean
So basically to add on a graphics card through a box and cord on motherboards without TB, you will need to spend more cash on an add on card that will use a PCIe slot?

How is that better than just buying a graphics PCIe card to begin with?
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Octavean
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join:2001-03-31
New York, NY
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said by Cthen:

So basically to add on a graphics card through a box and cord on motherboards without TB, you will need to spend more cash on an add on card that will use a PCIe slot?

How is that better than just buying a graphics PCIe card to begin with?

You're forgetting the ~$50 Thunderbolt cable as well.

Its my understanding that the spec would require more then current motherboards can offer. Therefore, apparently, it simply won't be an option unless your motherboard supports the spec which has not yet been ratified. Although there may be some small possibility that many Asus motherboards with their proprietary "TB_Header" may work, I suspect that would be unlikely (since Intel clearly took issue with it). The defunct Asus ThunderboltEX card intended for their Z77 class of boards should have logically resulted in the "TB_Header" on Asus Z87 motherboards being dropped somewhere along the preproduction line. Maybe Asus was holding out hope or it was just cheaper to leave it in the design even if it were vestigial.

You brings up a good point though and its one I addressed earlier. A traditional open platform desktop PC has less of a need of Thunderbolt expansion options IMO. Its the smaller locked down systems that typically need such expansion options.


trparky
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Thunderbolt was talked about a long time ago in a thread I created.

»Thunderbolt and the future of the PC as we know it?
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Octavean
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join:2001-03-31
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reply to Octavean
Some new PC systems are starting to show up with Thunderbolt like the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook.

If Intel is serious about Thunderbolt then they should either drop the Intel iGPU requirement or implement an iGPU on most if not all their processors. Especially so at the high-end. Therefore all future Xeons and the upcoming Haswell-E (as well as its successor) should have an iGPU.

HarryH3
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1 edit
reply to Cthen
.