Intel has unveiled the next generation Thunderbolt spec, dubbed Thunderbolt 2. In this version, Intel has managed to double the bandwidth to a 20Gbps bi-directional channel that can handle both data and display simultaneously.
In a statement, Intel said, “Thunderbolt 2 enables 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously – that’s a lot of eye-popping video and data capability. It is achieved by combining the two previously independent 10Gbs channels into one 20Gbs bi-directional channel that handles data and/or display.”
“Current versions of Thunderbolt, although faster than other PC I/O technologies on the market today, are limited to an individual 10Gbs channel each for both data and display, less than the required bandwidth for 4K video transfer. Also, the addition of DisplayPort 1.2 support in Thunderbolt 2 enables video streaming to a single 4K video monitor or dual QHD monitors.”
The Thunderbolt interconnect controller was originally designed in conjunction with Apple, and is a standard feature in Macs. Thunderbolt combines PCIe 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 into one serial signal alongside a DC connection for electric power, which is all transmitted over one cable. A single Thunderbolt port can support up to six Thunderbolt devices through daisy chains.
The new Thunderbolt 2 interface will use the new Redwood Ridge host controllers. The DSL4510 comes with 4 channels/2 ports with the DSL4410 containing 2 channels/1 port. This technology can be utilized on PCs, notebooks and tablets. Already there exist over 80 Thunderbolt enabled devices in the market today. Its utility is most commonly seen in storage drives, docks, displays, and a host of hardware that is focused toward video creation and editing.
With Thunderbolt 2, Intel has made seamless 4K video file transfer and playback a priority, and the new bi-direction channel means that this protocol will be faster than any other in the market, like USB 3.0, FireWire and eSATA. Although USB 3.0 has seen significant gains over USB 2.0, in that it can sustain 5.0 Gbps as seen against USB 2.0’s 480Mbps, it cannot match the 20Gbps limits that the Thunderbolt 2 will be able to achieve. Thunderbolt 2 is set to go into production next year.