Video Creation Bolts Ahead – Intel’s Thunderbolt™ 2 Doubles Bandwidth, Enabling 4K Video Transfer & Display

Everybody seems to be sharing video these days — at higher resolutions than ever.  This always-increasing demand has helped expand growth and adoption of Intel’s Thunderbolt™ technology in 2013, especially for the video editors creating the best and richest content. Originally brought to market in conjunction with Apple*, Thunderbolt is now a standard feature of Mac* computers sold in the market today.  The last year has also seen the PC industry get on board in earnest, as Thunderbolt is currently included on over 30 PCs and motherboards worldwide, including on more than a dozen new 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor-based products.  In addition, there are more than 80 Thunderbolt-enabled peripheral devices, covering everything from storage drives, expansion docks, displays, and a myriad of media capture and creation hardware.  More than 220 companies worldwide are developing Thunderbolt-enabled products, and that’s only going to increase.

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 20Gbs, 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 – 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.

“By combining 20Gbs 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,” says Jason Ziller, Marketing Director for Thunderbolt at Intel. “And our labs aren’t stopping there, as demand for video and rich data transfer just continues to rise exponentially.”

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.  And finally, 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.

But don’t take just our word for it.  LaCie* is making some of the coolest Thunderbolt products out there. “Thunderbolt has been a game changer for power users and especially the content creation industry to accelerate their workflow,” says Erwan Girard, Business Unit Manager at LaCie. “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.”

Blackmagic Design* also delivers some of the most sought-after video hardware on the market. “Thunderbolt 2 is going to change the game all over again,” says Grant Petty, CEO Blackmagic Design. “It will give us the ability to support higher image fidelity which will enable our customers to create even more beautiful images. We could only dream about this a few years ago and now it’s here.”

 We are excited about what the rest of 2013 and next year brings for Thunderbolt.  Your video is looking better than ever!

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

Thunderbolt is a trademark of Intel in the US and other countries.

10 thoughts on “Video Creation Bolts Ahead – Intel’s Thunderbolt™ 2 Doubles Bandwidth, Enabling 4K Video Transfer & Display

  1. I thought 500-800MB/s a few years ago at IDF was great. But, now we are up to 20Gbs? One of the educational institutions I volunteer for is still using external docking stations to move large amounts of back up data. The images we use consume a lot of space and upload speeds are much slower than the systems are capable of processing. Maybe Thunderbolt 2 will one day replace the slow image server.

    4K screens won’t be a reason for implementing TB2 just yet since the displays aren’t yet cost effective. Those days are coming though. Maybe by then we’ll have TB3 and/or some transitional hardware to bridge slightly older systems with the newer TB2/3.

  2. Hi Dan,

    I’ve seen it reported quite few times over the last few days that Thunderbolt (1) uses one channel for display, and the other for data, and that they cannot be mixed.

    What makes me curious is that two 2560×1440 60 Hz 24-bit displays (like Apple’s Thunderbolt Displays) use more than the 10 Gb/s available on one channel, yet, at least on OS X, you can still connect and use devices that rely on the PCIe part (and also, I assume, use the connections on the back of the Thunderbolt Displays) like Promise’s Pegasus devices.

    Would you mind explaining to me how these two superficially incompatible facts mesh?


  3. We’re having a discussion (and I posted about the new Mac Pro on — is the 20Gps channel limitation per controller? So with 3 controllers — there is effectively 10Gps per “cable” when under stress use?

    How does the allocation work?

    Thanks for any insights

  4. So there will be a thunderbolt port on coming laptop like in MacBooks?
    which means we can use portable video card with new laptops?
    Means laptop video card will be upgradable as in desktop PCs.

  5. Hi

    Thats more appealing – with eyes open as said in this title [ Speed trying to match though not attained “Mental Thought Processing & Visualizing Speed” – Intel is impressive – Nice ]

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  7. Hi there,
    I am a DIT in the film/video industry, a local 600 union member (ICG). I currently use many Thunderbolt products in my professional industry on a weekly basis. I would like to know more details and specific technical specs about your thunderbolt 2 coming out in the new Mac Pro. Currently I understand the PCIx lane to run at 4x speed in TB 1. I would like to know how fast it will be (8x or 16x) in the new Thunderbolt 2? This is very important for the PCI expansion possibilities of TB 2 for which GPUs etc can be added to the Mac Pro. Please keep me informed about these technical specifications as they become available. Will any of my TB 1 products be upgradable to TB 2? Thank you for your time and information.

    Brandon Dolson
    ICG 600 DIT

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