As video production moves increasingly towards 4K, so do the challenges that high-resolution video capture and editing create. The sheer amount of bandwidth required to produce 4K video can tax all but the most powerful systems available. The issues with handling this vast amount of data is a key reason Thunderbolt™ 2 is a popular choice for the industry. With bandwidth speeds up to 20Gbps and the ability to transfer and display 4K video simultaneously, Thunderbolt 2 is ideally suited to meet the data intensive needs of content creators. And within the past month a pair of announcements hit the market that will provide added choices among Thunderbolt 2 based systems.
Last month at the 2014 Siggraph Conference, both Lenovo and Dell announced that Thunderbolt 2 will be available as a configurable option via a Thunderbolt add-in card on their latest line of workstations. For Lenovo, adding Thunderbolt 2 to their ThinkStation P Series workstations comes on the heels of the successful Thunderbolt-enabled W540 mobile workstation launch earlier this year. “Designed for optimum performance, reliability, and usability, Lenovo’s new ThinkStation P Series workstations represent a quantum leap forward for workstation technology”, said Victor Rios, vice president and general manager, Workstation, Lenovo. “The latest Intel Xeon processors and Thunderbolt 2 technology help lead the charge for maximum performance inside and out.”
In the case of Dell, Thunderbolt 2 will be an option on their Precision tower workstations. “Dell Precision customers depend on powerful workstations to help create beautifully complex projects,” said Andy Rhodes, global executive director for Dell Precision workstations. “Thunderbolt 2 support in our recently announced Dell Precision tower workstations help enable these projects faster than ever before.” With Lenovo and Dell joining HP and Apple in offering Thunderbolt 2 with their latest workstations, now all the leading workstation makers are providing video creators with this capability.
In addition, by refreshing the 15” and 17” versions of its ZBook mobile workstations, HP is now providing Thunderbolt 2 capability across all form factors in its Z Workstation lineup, including tower, All-In-One, and mobile.
The announcement of these workstations coincides with the launch of several Thunderbolt™ Ready 9-series and X99 motherboards from OEMs such as Gigabyte, ASUS, ASRock and MSI that work in conjunction with Thunderbolt 2 add-in cards. The availability of Thunderbolt 2 on X99 systems is significant, as this represents the first time the industry’s highest performing I/O has been offered with Intel’s Extreme edition motherboards.
An added benefit possible on all of these systems is Thunderbolt™ Networking, which is a new way to connect two or more Thunderbolt 2 computers together, at 10GbE speeds, via a standard Thunderbolt cable. The ability to seamlessly connect a laptop to a tower workstation, or a PC to a Mac, or even multiple computers together to form small workgroups, provides an exciting new level of flexibility for companies building out their systems and workflows with Thunderbolt 2 in mind. Intel demonstrated Thunderbolt Networking at the 2014 Intel Developer’s Forum (IDF), by creating a small work group connected in daisy-chain fashion with an HP ZBook 15, ASUS G750jz, and a Mac Pro .
There are new Thunderbolt devices being shown at both IDF and IBC this week, including a sneak peak of the new Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD from Belkin. Smaller than Belkin’s previous Thunderbolt offering, it has the ability to connect a number of devices directly to the dock, as well as daisy-chain an additional 5 Thunderbolt devices. “Belkin’s goal is to deliver an all-in-one solution that highlights the capabilities of Thunderbolt 2, offers exceptional performance, and empowers users to create an efficient workspace for Mac or PC users, said Brian Van Harlingen, Chief Technology Officer at Belkin. “The Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD will achieve each of these goals.”
Other Thunderbolt 2 docks are coming to market, including the Thunderbolt™ 2 Docking Station from StarTech which was shown at IDF and the recently launched RocketStor 6351A from HighPoint, which was displayed at IBC.
A second unique demo within the Thunderbolt Community Showcase at IDF displayed multiple Professional Workflow HR2 devices, which are 4-bay card reader hubs from Lexar. These card reader hubs are based on Thunderbolt 2 and by daisy-chaining them together the download performance of the card media can be increased well beyond USB3.0 speeds. Additionally, a new 5.5m cable option from Corning, as well as two new Thunderbolt adapters from Kanex, (GigE/USB3.0 and eSATA/USB3.0) were also shown. And finally, at both the IDF and IBC shows, Intel is displaying a large selection of the more than 200 certified Thunderbolt devices that are currently available in the market. Among these are some new Thunderbolt storage products, including the d2 from LaCie, which combines both high capacity storage with the performance of an optional SSD module, offering no-compromise storage at a compelling price point. Also recently launched are very fast, bus-powered portable storage options from AKiTio (the Palm RAID) and Monster Digital (the OverDrive™ Thunderbolt™).
Come check out the latest Thunderbolt computers and devices at the Intel booth (Hall 14, Booth 14.L20) at IBC, Sept 12-16th in Amsterdam NE.