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Advanced Micro Devices, the second largest supplier of x86 microprocessors on the globe and the designer of half of the world's discrete graphics adapters, said that Intel Corp.'s recently introduced Thunderbolt input/output technology will become just another proprietary standard with not a lot of chances to be adopted widely. The chip designer also doubted that the TB actually brings any tangible improvements.

"Existing standards offer remarkable connectivity and together far exceed the 10Gb/s peak bandwidth of Thunderbolt. These solutions meet and exceed the bandwidth utilization of many peripherals," a spokesperson for AMD said.

AMD did not take part in the development of Thunderbolt technology and therefore will not be able to support it natively in the foreseeable future. In addition, the company does not see a lot of prospects for Thunderbolt in the short-term future as it does not substantially outperform current generation I/O technologies and sometimes even offers lower bandwidth. Coupled with the lack of devices that really take advantage of extreme throughput and the fact that Thunderbolt is a proprietary tech for now, the situation does not seem to be good for the interconnection.

"The DisplayPort1.2 standard offers up to 17Gb/s of peak bandwidth for displays. [...] Many AMD-based platforms support USB 3.0 which offers 4.8Gb/s of peak bandwidth, AMD natively supports SATA 6Gb/s with our 8-series chipsets. [Meanwhile], the total bandwidth stated for a Thunderbolt channel is only 20% higher than one PCI Express 3.0 lane and about 52% higher than a single USB 3.0 port," claimed the official for AMD.

The designer of graphics processors also pointed out that Thunderbolt uses the mini DisplayPort connector and that the solution [when actually utilized] essentially reduces bandwidth available for displays connected to the mDP port. For example, AMD recently announced a multi-stream technology with the Radeon HD 6800-series graphics cards that enables a single cable to link multiple displays for additional display flexibility employing AMD Eyefinity technology. Essentially, this multi-display tech if implemented into a laptop, will not be compatible with TB.

"Employing Thunderbolt in the DisplayPort connector implementation decreases the bandwidth available for DisplayPort reducing the bandwidth available for various multi-display configurations," stated the company.

Although manufacturers of external hard disk drives, such as Seagate Technologies and Western Digital, do support Thunderbolt and plan to introduce HDDs featuring the interconnector later this year, it is clear that only high-speed solid-state drives will be able to actually utilize 10Gb/s of bandwidth. In fact, there are generally no devices - apart from external graphics processors - that can use 10Gb/s of bandwidth over the PCI Express protocol. Moreover, graphics cards actually require more than 10Gb/s. All-in-all, the actual market prospects of Thunderbolt seem rather gloomy.

"Consumers generally benefit by having standard, high-speed ports available on their mobile devices. Proprietary ports, or the requirement of a dongle to employ those industry-standard ports may be an obstacle to consumers having the full computing experience at home or on the road," assumed the official for AMD.

Previously known as Light Peak, Thunderbolt technology supports two low-latency communications protocols - PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays. Thunderbolt technology works on data streams in both directions, at the same time, so users get the benefit of full bandwidth in both directions, over a single cable. With the two independent channels, a full 10Gb/s of bandwidth can be provided for the first device in the chain of the devices. All Thunderbolt technology devices share a common Mini DisplayPort connector. Intel's Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols and thus makers need to develop or use additional controllers to make their products compatible with the TB I/O interface.

Intel claims that the adoption rate of the new I/O technology will not be considerably limited. Still, it is aimed currently at professionals rather than on typical consumers.

"The combination of the very fast data transfer and beyond-HD display support on a single slender cable has great appeal for HD media creators, especially who work on laptops. Those same features also solve the big challenges posed by the growing HD media libraries many of us now own," a spokesman for Intel said last week.

Tags: AMD, , Intel, Thunderbolt, Light Peak

Discussion

Comments currently: 25
Discussion started: 03/01/11 03:45:40 AM
Latest comment: 03/17/11 04:00:05 AM
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[1-9]

1. 
a new I/O technology needs to offer a lot of advantages to be worth the loss of backwards compatibility with basically every PC still working on the planet through USB.
thunderbolt isn't it.
0 1 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/01/11 03:45:40 AM]
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yeah its more of a bandaid. Intel could innovate some optical stuff for through put, but theyd rather offer a placebo.
0 0 [Posted by: verndewd  | Date: 03/01/11 11:58:19 AM]
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2. 
May be in high class MB will be room for thunderbolt in AMD system.Depend on how Intel and AMD make a deal.But really I dont see big advantage of thunderbolt.
0 1 [Posted by: Blackcode  | Date: 03/01/11 03:55:03 AM]
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3. 
Of course, Intel could simply pay off various companies to use TB, thus forcing creation of a critical mass to start the ball rolling.
0 0 [Posted by: BernardP  | Date: 03/01/11 04:55:34 AM]
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4. 
AMD is just sour-graping!


A single PCI Express 3.0 lane can push 1GB/s, or 8Gbps, per direction, and USB 3.0 maxes out at 4.8Gbps. That would make Thunderbolt 25% faster than a PCIe 3.0 lane and a whopping 108% faster than USB 3.0
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/01/11 06:13:26 AM]
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I think they are being reasonable. Intel doesnt need gimicks like this nor do the pocket books of consumers. If they want to increase bandwidth they should innovate a real method with the current designs on the sb and memory controller instead of add more junk for a quick fix at an increase of cost.
Intel is nickle and dime-ing
0 0 [Posted by: verndewd  | Date: 03/01/11 11:54:52 AM]
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if they can provide an option to consolidate a couple or several ports into one, then why not, bottomline is the consumers have a new option.

if AMD doesn't want to license it, well let them be. If their customers force them, they'll eventually give-in and eat their words. Regardless, its just pride and sour-graping for AMD, cause AMD didn't come up with such an idea in the first place
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/01/11 01:23:45 PM]
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their customers wont. the most we'll see is a add on chip on higher-end motherboards to make a single port.
basically the same thing we saw with firewire.
0 1 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/02/11 04:37:20 AM]
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that remains to be seen. It may end up on higher-end MBs at the start. but then again that its the decision of the MB makers to offer them on their products. AMD doesn't make their own MBs, so it shouldn't be a big deal to them.
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/02/11 05:57:17 AM]
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actually I'm thinking we might not even see that.
firewire was popular in videocam's. if you had one you needed firewire to get it on your PC properly. that ensured it was atleast somewhat known outside of apples world.

but TB has no application not already taken care of by a cheaper and more wide spread option.
0 1 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/02/11 05:54:55 PM]
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you keep missing the point! TB does not replace any existing connectivity protocol. TB offers a simplified connectivity option that minimizes physical cable connection (whether its electrical or optical).
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/02/11 11:58:31 PM]
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it adds cost and complexity without any substantial benefits.

there just isn't a application for it worth the cost.
0 1 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/06/11 05:20:20 AM]
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5. 
@dudde

You notice that there's a bit of fine print:
"With the two independent channels, a full 10Gb/s of bandwidth can be provided for the first device in the chain of the devices"

So, only one device will be capable of 10Gb/s. It also doesn't say if the 10Gb/s is per direction either.

Contrast that to PCIe and USB3.0 -- that's a shared bandwidth available to any device that needs that speed immediately, regardless of how many hubs you put it through.
0 0 [Posted by: sanity  | Date: 03/01/11 09:21:28 AM]
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AMD is catching up and intel wants to maintain a cheap lead in benchmarks.
0 0 [Posted by: verndewd  | Date: 03/01/11 11:56:24 AM]
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6. 
This is AMD crying crocodile tears.
They really want a license but Apple smoked them.

Its less about bandwidth right now than daisychaining storage and displays easily, which is something USB cannot do, that FW does poorly, and which neither has support for displays.
TB has a pro and pro-sumer market that will take to it quickly since it's driven by their God in residence, Apple. The media market wants toys that inter-operate and move media files quickly.
The consumer market doing photos and videos will follow that lead since the pieces that develop for the pros will go down-market fast for volume.
Sorry, but USB 3.0 missed that boat, SATA III is entirely internal, and busses and PCI-E is largely unknown to the media community.
Nothing is being discussed about TB / LightPeak future bandwidth growth, which has real legs. TB also supports Optical connectors.

Intel won the CPU race, did well in the networking consortium, but lost the GPU race, and now they're trying to recoup by taking it to the interconnects space. Ain't competition for world dominance great?
0 0 [Posted by: tangible  | Date: 03/01/11 01:02:43 PM]
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this version of TB doesn't support optical at all. a optical version will again brake backward compatibility. so no the possible growth of bandwidth isn't all that great. no greater then with USB3.0

there is also E-sata.
and with a cheap hub you can do basically the same thing as TB's daisy-chaining.
and USB is cheap. you will soon get chipsets with (almost) all usb3, 12 tot 14 ports so the need for daisy-chaining anything is basically zero.

so again, no advantages worth losing compatibility for with all PC's on the planet.
0 1 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/02/11 04:33:43 AM]
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well good luck managing spaghetti cables running along your pc. TB was not meant to lose any kind of compatibility in terms of connection.
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/03/11 12:00:37 AM]
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7. 

The case against Thunderbolt


Thunderbolt brings new costs and complexity to deliver two bi-directional 10 Gbit/second copper links that won't open up any major new applications, they say. USB 3.0 is already available at data rates up to 5 Gbits/s over copper and, like Thunderbolt, can also ride optical links in the future.

Simply put, Thunderbolt "is a mistake," said one big Intel customer.

->
http://www.eetimes.com/el...-case-against-Thunderbolt
0 0 [Posted by: T9000  | Date: 03/01/11 02:33:33 PM]
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8. 

@Countess: you're clearly and knowing you a bit deliberately missing one important point. TB is NOT, I repeat, NOT a protocol standard, but purely a physical interconnect tech. USBx, and any protocol that for matter, can be bolted on top of TB. As such, TB isn't meant to replace USB (you'd still need the USB connector for the existing peripherals anyway) but to provide a single technology over which many protocols can be routed, reducing cable spaghetti. Really, all this naysaying from the AMD crowd doesn't hold any water.
0 0 [Posted by: sanity  | Date: 03/02/11 07:03:18 PM]
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exactly what I've been saying. AMD is not being force to license this tech in anyway. Its up to MB makers to offer such option. In fact, the basic principle in chipset design isn't even affected.
0 0 [Posted by: dudde  | Date: 03/02/11 11:54:36 PM]
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sorry, still doesn't make sense.

i cant think of any application where that might make sense considering the addition cost.
0 0 [Posted by: Countess  | Date: 03/06/11 05:14:07 AM]
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You mean the extra $10 or something like that? That's hardly worth complaining about, especially with more and more electronics companies backing the standard, and being able to run multiple data streams at full speed has got to account for something as well.
0 0 [Posted by: sanity  | Date: 03/10/11 08:28:47 PM]
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9. 
Thunderbolt/Light Peak's biggest adoption hurdle is that it's not an open standard, with the implied licensing fees.

It's also a PITA that it gives Intel more marketing incentive to drag it's feet with USB3 in it's chipsets. But hopefully BullDozer will be strong enough we won't care =)

It's too bad really, I do like the idea of port consolidation. Especially with the nightmares in the mini-connector space... how many different "flavors" of USB and Firewire mini-connectors do we need? Argh. The biggest "innovator" I saw was a way to break out PCIe externally was exciting. The only other hope I've seen is if OCZ can get more (any?) IBIS adoption on motherboards.

But I'm already ruing the confusion that the whole "is it a DisplayPort or Thunderbolt plug" and the inevitable "Thunderbolt to LightPeak adapter plugged into the DisplayPort port" nightmare coming.

Lets hope the pro-sumers eat this one so we don't have to.
0 0 [Posted by: xrror  | Date: 03/17/11 04:00:05 AM]
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