Intel hasn’t significantly updated their Thunderbolt technology since Apple launched the lightning-fast IO in their 2011 MacBook Pro. Despite the fact that the technology hasn’t caught on very quickly (currently, most Thunderbolt products are targeted at professionals, with few real consumer-level products available), today, Intel announced the next generation of Thunderbolt, which will double the maximum transfer speed from 10GB/s to 20GB/s.
Here at NAB, Intel just introduced the next generation of its Thunderboltinterface, which promises a data rate of 20 Gbps in both directions (on each of the two channels) as opposed to 10 Gbps for the previous version. Of course, the company stepped back for a moment first, boasting that Thunderbolt currently has about 200 licensees, and more compatible devices — along with new, thinner cables — should be coming out in the following months. Building up to the big reveal, Intel also shared some info about its new Thunderbolt host controller, (code-named Redwood Ridge), which will be built into some of Intel’s upcoming fourth-gen Core processors.
In addition, Intel has also announced an intermediate update called Redwood Ridge to launch with the company’s Haswell-series processors, which will bring support for DisplayPort 1.2, as well as support for 4K displays and video transfers. This is an important step towards Apple releasing a Retina version of its Thunderbolt display (as well as Retina iMacs). It’s also likely one of the main reasons Apple has delayed updating their Mac Pro line of computers.
AnandTech shares the details on the new “Redwood Ridge” chips:
Intel is announcing two this week: the DSL4510 and DSL4410. These two are replacements for Intel’s current DSL3510 and DSL3310, with 4/2 and 2/1 (channels/ports) respectively. There are no performance changes other than official support for DisplayPort 1.2 (and thus 4K displays). If you connect either of these parts to a Thunderbolt display you still only get DP 1.1a support. There’s still a PCIe gen 2 x4 interface on the other end of these controllers.
The Redwood Ridge parts should be a little cheaper as they integrate a 1V voltage regulator that used to be external. The integration also reduces board area by a bit. Power consumption is also lower at idle compared to Cactus Ridge, and disconnected power consumption is significantly lower (1mW vs. 7mW for Cactus Ridge). Redwood Ridge includes the appropriate hooks for Haswell’s upcoming aggressive platform power management reductions. Ultimately this is the real focus behind Redwood Ridge. With Haswell, all components on the platform need to be more power efficient – Intel’s own silicon included.
The new Redwood Ridge chips are set to debut later this year, while the faster 20GB/s “Falcon Ridge” chips should launch sometime in 2014.