The 4K Universe Just Got Better – Thunderbolt™ 2 Products Come Into Focus

The Intel Developer Forum (IDF) has a long history of introducing innovative new concepts and advancements to developers and press alike.  This year is no different, as one of the exciting new technologies prominently shown at IDF was Thunderbolt™ 2, the next generation of Intel’s revolutionary Thunderbolt™ technology.

Thunderbolt burst onto the scene in 2011, as the first interconnect technology to enable bi-directional, dual channel speeds up to 10Gbps, deliver data and display over a single cable, and daisy-chain up to six devices.  Thunderbolt 2 builds upon this innovation by combining the dual channels into a single 20Gbps channel that’s still capable of delivering data and display over a single cable.  Thunderbolt 2 supports higher PCIe data rates and DisplayPort 1.2 resulting in the industry’s first connection technology that can transfer and display true uncompressed 4K video simultaneously.

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The improvements that come with Thunderbolt 2, particularly simultaneous 4K data transfer and display, bring exciting new possibilities for enhanced media creation processes and workflows.  And technology leaders have taken notice.  Apple has announced they are capitalizing on these enhancements, previewing its upcoming version of the Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports, expected to be available in Fall 2013.  PC OEM’s are getting into the game as well.  Hewlett-Packard, viewing Thunderbolt as a vital component to their media creation platform strategy, announced it will include Thunderbolt 2 in its new line of desktop workstations, including one that was demonstrated within the Advanced Technology Zone (ATZ) at IDF.

“Thunderbolt accelerates creative projects by enabling the most demanding workflows to easily incorporate external storage, video processing, and other high-performance peripherals”, said Jim Zafarana, VP/GM of HP CSBU.  “As the first workstation vendor to offer Thunderbolt across its line of workstation-class products, our customers can take advantage of the solution from our ZBook Mobile Workstations up to our dual Xeon processor-based Z Desktop Workstations offering Thunderbolt 2.”

Other OEMs, including ASUS, Gigabyte, and ASRock also announced new Thunderbolt 2 enabled motherboards, which were shown in the Thunderbolt Community at IDF.

Seizing on the benefits of Thunderbolt 2, leading peripheral device manufacturers are using IDF to announce the first Thunderbolt 2 devices expected to hit the market this year, including the Pegasus2 Series storage from PROMISE Technology, the Echo Express III Series expansion chassis from Sonnet, and Professional Video/Audio I/O from AJA.

“With the industry now poised for the widespread adoption of 4K video, the Pegasus2 Series with Thunderbolt 2 technology will revolutionize how video creators are managing 4K workflows in addition to delivering unprecedented performance to artists and enthusiasts who love to create captivating content.” said James Lee, CEO, PROMISE Technology.

 “Thunderbolt broke new ground with the incredible speed and versatility it affords to video professionals, and it’s become an essential part of high resolution workflow needs,” said Nick Rashby, president, AJA Video Systems. “Our Io XT, the first dual-Thunderbolt-port video I/O device and our T-TAP™ Thunderbolt adapter have both proven to be popular with our user base, and we are excited to release new Thunderbolt 2-supported devices in the near future.”

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Thunderbolt continues to drive innovative experiences and products, with many new 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor-based systems now available with Thunderbolt, in addition to systems already shipping from leading PC makers. Lenovo is adding to its lineup of Thunderbolt-enabled computers as well, with the ThinkPad W540 mobile workstation.

“Thunderbolt transforms video creation and playback on the PC,” said Dilip Bhatia, Vice President, Think Product Group, Lenovo.  “Collaborating with Intel, we are pleased to deliver the ThinkPad W540 mobile workstation to the market, which opens up a completely new level of functionality for ThinkPad users.”

At IDF, Intel announced that the Thunderbolt device ecosystem is now over 100 certified devices, with a majority supporting both Mac and Windows OS environments.  New usages and form factors continue to emerge; including new high-resolution and responsive docks, such as the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station, as well as palm-size drives and dongles, all which were demonstrated or shown at IDF. Even premium displays are getting in on the act, as evidenced by LG’s support of Thunderbolt in their future monitor line.

“LG believes Thunderbolt is an important way for users to connect when working with rich media”, said Mr. Yong-Ho Cho, GM of LG Monitor Product Department.  “The LG Monitor Product Department is pleased to be working with Intel on future display products that will meet these users’ needs.” 

The DSL5520/5320 Thunderbolt 2 controllers are currently in production and available to PC and device manufacturers, and Intel expects to see a steady stream of Thunderbolt 2 systems and devices as the technology ramps into 2014. We are entering a time when professionals and enthusiasts alike can create 4K video on a mobile or desktop platform. As the fastest, most versatile connection to your PC*, Thunderbolt 2 is uniquely positioned to drive this democratization of content within 4K video production and content workflows.

* As compared to other PC I/O connection technologies including eSATA, USB, and IEEE 1394 Firewire**.  Performance will vary depending on the specific hardware and software used.  For more information go to http://www.intel.com/technology/io/thunderbolt/index.htm

**Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

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