Intel Announces Thunderbolt 2: 20Mb/s Bandwidth for 4K UHD Video Transfer and Display

Intel Thunderbolt 2 Doubles Bandwidth for Next-Generation Video

by Anton Shilov
06/04/2013 | 11:35 PM

Intel Corp. this week announced final name for the next-generation Thunderbolt technology that boasts 20Gb/s bi-directional transfer speeds over copper wires. The Thunderbolt 2 will not only improve speeds, but will also enable display of ultra-high-definition video in 4K resolution (3840*2160 or similar). The new technology will create a new class of devices that will include PCs, displays, external storage solutions and so on.


At the video geekfest National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in April, Intel announced plans for an important advancement in Thunderbolt technology – the upcoming controller codenamed “Falcon Ridge” running at 20Gb/s, a doubling of the bandwidth over the original Thunderbolt. Named Thunderbolt 2, this next generation of the technology enables 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously.  It is achieved by combining the two previously independent 10Gb/s channels into one 20Gb/s 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 10Gb/s 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.

“By combining 20Gb/s bandwidth with DisplayPort 1.2 support, Thunderbolt 2 creates an entirely new way of thinking about 4K workflows, specifically the ability to support raw 4K video transfer and data delivery concurrently. And our labs aren’t stopping there, as demand for video and rich data transfer just continues to rise exponentially,” said Jason Ziller, marketing director for Thunderbolt at Intel.

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.  Since Thunderbolt 2 is backwards compatible, original investments in cables and connectors continue to pay off while supporting dramatically improved performance.  Thunderbolt 2 is currently slated to begin production before the end of this year, and ramp into 2014.

“LaCie is excited to see the Thunderbolt 2 speed advancements and DP 1.2 connectivity, which will allow us to develop new unprecedented capabilities for high performance external storage. Imagine an artist working from virtually anywhere with just a laptop and a LaCie Little Big Disk storage drive in a backpack,” said Erwan Girard, business unit manager at LaCie.

Thunderbolt 2 is due in 2014.