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Intel's Thunderbolt 2 Now Official, Doubling Bandwidth & Enabling 4K Video Display

06.5.13 @ 11:20PM Tags : , ,

Thunderbolt 2-picIntel has finally made Thunderbolt 2 official after talking about the new spec at NAB 2013. While adoption hasn’t been nearly as high for Thunderbolt as it has been for USB 3.0, that hasn’t stopped Intel from pushing development forward to much faster data rates. Originally a 10Gbps format, the new Thunderbolt 2 doubles the bandwidth to 20Gbps, or 2.5 Gigabytes per second. This will also mean good things for those trying to work with 4K video, as the newer format is made to support the viewing of 4K material.

Thunderbolt 2_Devices

Here is Intel on the announcement:

Named “Thunderbolt™ 2”, this next generation of the technology 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 supports 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. All of this is made possible with full backward compatibility to the same cables and connectors used with today’s Thunderbolt. The result is great news for an industry on the cusp of widespread adoption of 4K video technologies.

Professionals and enthusiasts alike will be able to create, edit, and view live 4K video streams delivered from a computer to a monitor over a single cable, while backing up the same file on an external drive, or series of drives, simultaneously along the same device daisy-chain. Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours.

This is a big step for Thunderbolt, especially as USB 3.0 is set to catch up to the current spec sometime next year. 4K displays are going to become much more prevalent in the next few years, and if companies want professionals to be able to use the displays, it helps having more options to connect to them and output at maximum resolution and bit depth.

Just like with USB 3.0, the new Thunderbolt should be backwards compatible with the old spec, so cables should still work fine. Of course, just like with any transfer format, it can only be fast as its slowest bottleneck. We should start seeing support for Thunderbolt 2 by the end of this year, but full support probably won’t come until sometime next year for all new Thunderbolt devices.

Link: Intel’s Thunderbolt™ 2 Doubles Bandwidth, Enabling 4K Video Transfer & Display

[via Apple Insider]


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  • Thank God. i was just thinking that Thunderbolt 1.0 was way too slow for me.

  • 4K PC monitors will be coming out soon as well … Asus 31″ is supposed to run about $4K later this summer …

  • john david on 06.6.13 @ 1:15AM

    Goodness they’re really to push hard for 4K to become widestream…

    Will this be the extra push that’s going to make people jump the gun and shoot 4K

    • marklondon on 06.6.13 @ 1:44AM

      Within a short period (two years?) 4k or above will be widely and cheaply available as a capture medium. I also think we’ll see 4k resolutions initially on non-TV screens, rather than TVs. Ipad 6? Kindle 4K? Samsung Note 7?
      The big jump will have to be in 3D post, which is nowhere near ready for that leap yet. So we could be looking at 4k to 2K conversion for a while yet for big pictures and most commercials.
      If RED or someone else gets their 4K players/networks up, its entirely possible that smaller indie films could go full 4K chain before mainstream studios. Its currently far cheaper to shoot or post-process an effect heavy film (over 100 effect shots) in 3D than completely in 4K.
      The worrying thing, far more than 3D actually, is that no-one has proved that the public will pay for the upgrade.
      I have yet to see any business case where that’s been proven, and there are a few cases where its been less successful than hoped (UK 4K projection cinemas, ‘Timescapes’). Arri holding off their 4K cam is another sign.
      Even last Friday at CineGear, standing before a row of 4K TVs, more than a few people expressed lukewarm reactions, and this is an audience that LOVES 4K acquisition.
      So we’ll be shooting 4K, and editing 4K consistently soon. Whether we’ll be rotoing/compositing it or watching it on a TV in the living room or at the cinema is a very different matter. A lot of dominoes would have to fall for that to happen.

      • The high end production – TV and features – will likely go all in for 4K within 2 years, as the processing power of the new CPU/GPU steps up in quality and down in price. The consumer market, Asus’ new 4K monitor notwithstanding, might settle for “one-half” improvement, something like WQHD (2560×1440), which is also a 16×9 format , upping the res to just under 4 million pixels. Those monitors are already out, with prices ranging from mid $300′s in the US for off-off-brands to $800+ for the top labels. Most video cards can support this resolution right now. This would also make it rather adaptable to streaming, as the new HEVC will allow to bring double the quality at the same bit rate. This means 4 million pixels at about 3.5Mbps, which is very doable for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Crackle, etc.

        • ur forgetting ISPs in your equasion. in germany they are already whining about the fact everyone is now streaming video 24/7 and telekom germany was the first one to withdraw their unlimited flatrate package.
          if 4K comes around now it ll only get worse and far, far more expensive.

      • I think more the problem is that no one really cares or wants 4k but the home theater market is going to try to push it hard. Do you think anyone saw the latest Bond movie, for example, on a giant movie theater screen and thought “man this could use some more resolution?” Obviously not. But Sony and the like are about to push to have 4k on a 55 inch screen in your home. The public is only now barely catching up to Blu-ray, and most of them watch home movies on a highly compressed data stream anyway, yet here we are worried about 4k. It ups the expense considerably while not changing a ton in the picture quality, for something consumers don’t give a damn about.

        • I agree but this make for a multi-tier home entertainment, instead of a nearly homogeneous TV quality of the yesteryear. According to Nielsen, 75% of all US sets were HD/HD ready but only 29% of all OTA TV viewing and 25% of cable was in HD. “TV” in general is undergoing a huge switch from the OTA/cable model to, at worst, cable/streaming/OTA. Those who stream regularly – and that should be about 40 million US households, if one adds up the Neflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. – subscribers at the lowest should want a higher res TV/monitor. And with all the 2.5K cameras out there, it seems like a natural fit.

      • Lukewarm reaction to 4k tv’s is likely because there isn’t enough media available in 4k to make it worth buying today. As soon as there’s many 4k movies available, 4k video cards commonly available for computers, and the cost of 4k tv’s comes down, no more lukewarmness will be detected.

        There is no doubt about it—4k makes a beautiful picture that I, and most other people would want if we could enjoy it more than just a few dvd’s worth. And by the way—where can people even rent a dvd in 4k right now? Do 99.9% of people even know? Wait, I think I need a couple more 9′s after the decimal point. Wait again, I think I need a lot more 9′s after that decimal point

  • Will the port be available on the new macbook pros coming this summer?

    • I received absolutely no informations in that direction, nope. Rather the opposite.
      Normally, it will become available in PCs, MACs and devices in the beginning of 2014, so it will be rather the next iteration of MBP which will support TH2.

  • Chris Lambert on 06.6.13 @ 4:35AM

    please just make thunderbolt devices cheaper not faster that is what will end up being the death bell for this.

    • Only consumers provoke price drop by number of sales, at the moment they want USB3 because they never heard of ThunderBolt.

      • or because USB3 is good enough for 99% they’re doing.

      • Don’t forget about the quagmire of licensing restrictions that makes Thunderbolt more difficult and expensive for manufacturers to include in their hardware. Consumers will accept whatever comes standard, so until manufacturers can make that happen, Thunderbolt won’t become widespread.

  • I don’t even have any thunderbolt 1.0 devices…not even a very expensive usb 3.0 hub.
    Not that I don’t want them…

  • Gary Simmons on 06.6.13 @ 7:03PM

    This is going to give away how old I’m becoming but I am still astonished with the continued advances in comuting power each year and I cut my teeth on a TSR-80 from radio shack in 1975. And looking at this I remember Bill gates back in the 80′s saying I can not see any computer ever needing more than a Megabyte of ram Boyu we have come a long way baby. Can not wait to see what happens 5 years from now in Cameras and comoputers.

    • CYBERSEALLBALKN on 10.5.13 @ 4:50PM

      TRS-80 came out in 1980. I guess you have a time machine and brought the TRS-80 computer back to 1975?

  • What devices is USB 3.0 native with?

    • I was talking to a IT guy I happened to meet at Best Buy by the 4K tv. He said very few devices are. And with conversion because it’s not native there’s an immediate loss of 20% video quality, if you’re going to use USB 3 for video—if I understood him right.

      He was happy about Thunderbolt 2. He thought there was room to spare for almost everything you could do through it.

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