Thunderbolt™ 2 expanding on desktop PCs with introduction of Thunderbolt Ready 9-series motherboards

At this year’s Computex show, Thunderbolt™2 technology is making news as PC motherboard OEMs are expanding Thunderbolt availability on a number of new Intel®  9-series motherboards via the Thunderbolt Ready program and Thunderbolt 2 add-in cards.  The growing importance of Thunderbolt within this segment was evidenced by a 4K content creation workflow demonstration that Intel showcased as part of their desktop overclocking event on the first night of Computex.  Thunderbolt 2 is the best PC I/O capable of handling 4K video, width speeds up to 20Gbps, support for DisplayPort 1.2, and the ability to daisy-chain as many as six devices.  As we move forward in 2014, channel resellers, system integrators and custom-build enthusiasts alike will have a variety of options to build up systems with Thunderbolt 2 capability.

An exciting aspect of the new 9-series motherboards that are launching is that many of them work in conjunction with Thunderbolt 2 add-in cards, under a program that Intel launched called Thunderbolt Ready.  A motherboard can be called Thunderbolt Ready when it has a GPIO (general purpose I/O) header on the motherboard, the appropriate BIOS software update, and has been certified to work with a Thunderbolt 2 add-in card.  Over the next few months we expect to see over 40 Thunderbolt Ready motherboards launched into the market from a variety of motherboard manufacturers, including Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, and others.

Thunderbolt ready logo ASUS ThunderboltEX II with Z87-PRO

One of the factors driving the expansion of Thunderbolt availability is the growing adoption of 4K technologies.  And increasingly end users are content creators themselves, and having technology that helps them manage content is a common theme among new products launching at Computex. Lexar is one such company, introducing two new Thunderbolt 2 products, the Lexar® Professional Workflow HR2 and Lexar® Professional Workflow CR2.  The Lexar® Professional Workflow HR2, which was demonstrated at the Intel booth at Computex,  is a four-bay reader hub for individual card readers and offers users a very fast way to download photo and video files from cards of multiple formats concurrently.  When paired with the Lexar® Professional Workflow CR2, a CFast 2.0 Thunderbolt 2 reader, users will experience download speeds up to 4x faster than USB 3.0.  Or if you need to download many cards at once, multiple readers can be daisy-chained together.

“I am very excited about the new Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 Thunderbolt 2 reader hub. This will be a huge timesaver for me, both in the office and out on assignment. For example, in Africa, where I am often using three cameras—two for stills and one for time-lapse, I will be able to simultaneously download all of my high-capacity Lexar cards at speeds we have previously only dreamed about. This will be possible via the inbuilt Thunderbolt 2 port on my HP ZBook. My workflow will be streamlined immensely!”

-Lexar Elite Photographer, Chris McLennan

HR2a HR2b - Copy

Click here for a short video by Lexar comparing Thunderbolt 2 vs. USB 3.0 on this device

One of the more interesting products now shipping with Thunderbolt 2 is the 34” WQHD Thunderbolt monitor from LG. The expansive 34-inch monitor takes advantage of the newest trend 21:9 displays as well as stunning UltraWide QHD resolution (3440 x 1440) and superior color management features. A host of connectivity options such as Thunderbolt 2 allow professionals and tech-savvy consumers to tailor the monitor to their specific needs.  And with its support for Thunderbolt 2, the 34UM95 provides transfer speeds up to 20Gbps, the fastest currently available in a monitor.

At its core, Thunderbolt technology is all about connectivity, and the recent announcement of Thunderbolt™ Networking is a great example.  Thunderbolt Networking (soon to be available on Thunderbolt 2 systems) is a new way to connect two PCs, or a PC and a Mac, together via a standard Thunderbolt cable, providing 10GbE throughput.  Thunderbolt dongles are another category that carries this theme forward, and at Computex, Intel showcased two new Kanex Thunderbolt dual- port dongles, an eSATA + USB 3.0 and a Gigabit Ethernet + USB 3.0 connectivity option. Additional Thunderbolt 2 products were also announced at Computex, continuing the ramp of this second generation Thunderbolt into the market.


New dongles from Kanex