Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (3-7-11): Intel Thunderbolt - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (3-7-11): Intel Thunderbolt

Embedded Newsletter for 03-07-2011

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March 7, 2011

 Issue Highlights

Ten things to know about Intel's Thunderbolt

USB 3.0: Delivering superspeed with 25% lower power

Making the shift to optical interconnect with PCIe Gen3

The case against Thunderbolt


Editor's Note

Last week Intel’s Thunderbolt (Intel's previous code name: “Light Peak”) , a new serial interconnect, made its first appearance in Apple’s new Macbook, the first in a wave of Thunderbolt introductions scheduled during 2011, according to Intel. To get a first look at what the Thunderbolt spec is all about check out the following:

Ten things to know about Intel’s Thunderbolt
The case against Thunderbolt
Inside Thunderbolt: videos, photos, details

Included in this newsletter are a number of news features on the spec under its code name “Light Peak”.  Even though news about the serial interface started leaking out in late 2009, surprisingly little solid detailed technical information is available online, other than a Intel Web page on Thunderbolt and a still evolving Wikipedia article, which no doubt will undergo considerable revision as more information becomes available.

Doing a search on Google Scholar , I could find only eight substantive technical papers on Thunderbolt in the past 16 monthsversus several hundred on its competitors, such as the Intel-initiated Universal Serial Bus (USB) and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) and the Apple-initiatedIEEE 1394 (aka Firewire), that Thunderbolt is designed to replace.

To provide you with a solid context for evaluating the new offering, I have included a number of design articles published on Embedded.com on some of these competitive serial interconnects, including “Making the shift to optical interconnect with PCIe“ which analyzes Light Peak in the context of PCIe optical interconnect extensions.

There is both controversy and confusion about the new spec, which will only be sorted out when more design information emerges. So as you evaluate the various alternatives and sort out where Thunderbolt fits, we would like to hear from you in the form of design articles and blogs on Embedded.com.  (EET/Embedded.com Editor Bernard Cole, , 928-525-9087 )


Design How Tos

USB 3.0: Delivering superspeed with 25% lower power

USB 3.0 offers new opportunities to boost battery life forboth host and endpoint functions thanks to comprehensive power-managementfeatures that operate autonomously at the hardware level.

Reliable circuit protection for USB 3.0 interfaces

Understand the ESD demands posed by the latest USB standard

SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0): More than just a speed increase

Understand what is new and better with SuperSpeed USB protocols and power management versus USB 2.0

Partitioning hi-speed USB systems

Learn how hi-speed USB partitioning differs from its predecessor, and the design implications

PCI Express Gen 3 Simplified

A preview of what embedded developers can expect to see inthe newest generation of the PCI Express interconnect protocol, doublingbandwidth and increasing end-system performance.

Making the shift to optical interconnect with PCIe Gen3

This tutorial looks at the benefits of PCIe Gen3 as an optical interconnect, in the context of the copper dilemma, optical fibers and pertinent advances in optical technology, such as LightPeak, and the cost/power tradeoffs.

Minimize latency in diverse embedded system design environments

How latency issues in embedded (and other) systems have been successfully and measurably countered in PCIe's first two generations and what designers can expect with PCIe Gen 3 on the horizon.

1394 cameras: Simple designs with hi-bandwidth, low latency

The author, vice chairman of the 1394 Trade Association, argues that 1394 Automotive Camera Systems provide features and functions required for automotive applications while maintaining competitive price performance.

UsingFireWire for innovative designs without distance constraints

IEEE's 1394 long-haul technology is ideal for semi processing equipment, industrial measurement, automation, robotics, and some other applications.

Using Video-0ver-USB for HiDef recording on mobile handsets

To deal with the challenges of delivering HD video on mobile handsets,, a USB Audio Video Class needs to be defined within the Universal Serial Bus specification to standardize Video-over-USB technology.


Product News

PLX samples new family of PCIe 3.0 switches

PLX Technology is sampling six new PCI Express Gen 3 switches,the PLX Express Lane, ranging from 12 to 48 lanes.

Automated software aids PCI Express 3.0 transmitter compliance

An automated compliance test package for PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0 physical-layer transmitter compliance testing from Agilent Technologies Inc. includes measurement support for the laytest PCIe 8-GT/s interface.

USB3.0 spec gets a transceiver which matches its potential

TI TUSB1310 provides essential physical-level functions, features sensitivity twice the USB 3.0 requirement

TI offers USB 3.0 IC for 5-Gbit/s transfers

Texas Instruments has introduced to the market a USB 3.0 transceiver capable of 5-Gbits-per-second data transmission rates.


News & Analysis

Ten things to know about Intel's Thunderbolt

We answer a few of the big questions about Intel's new Thunderbolt interface, but plenty of issues remain in the dark about the technology built into Apple's new MacBooks.

Inside Thunderbolt: Videos, photos, details

We got a demo of the new Thunderbolt interface, pictures of its controllers and connector and more in-depth details on the technology and business behind it.

The case against Thunderbolt

Intel's Thunderbolt is leaving some people feeling burned the chip giant is launching a new interface rather than giving its full attention to an existing one—USB.

Synopsys says IP supports PCIe 3.0

EDA and IP vendor Synopsys its DesignWare IP supports the final version of the PCI Express 3.0 base specification recently released by the PCI Special Interest Group.

Light Peak panned by OEM, report

Intel's first implementation of Light Peak will not be broadly adopted by PC makers, but it opens a door to future optical interconnects, according to one PC engineer and an analyst report published today.

Update: Light Peak systems hit in 2011

The Light Peak optical interconnect will be ready for systems in 2012, about the same time USB 3.0 ramps into high volume, according to engineers at IDF.

For notebooks, Light Peak is in, USB 3.0 is out? Join the conversation

At IDF, Intel said zip about its plan to support USB 3.0 for its PC chip set. Instead, the company heavily promoted Light Peak, which could be thought of as USB 4.0. Is this a bait and switch?

Apple MacBook debuts Thunderbolt I/O

Apple announced its latest MacBook Pro notebook will build in Thunderbolt, the new high speed systems interface from Intel formerly known as Light Peak.

Fast interfaces overlap at IDF

The buzz in fast interconnects at Intel Developer Forum was supposed to be around SuperSpeed USB, the 3.0 version of the omnipresent interface coming to systems in 2010, but somewhere on the road to San Francisco's Moscone Center, Intel decided to roll out Light Peak, the next next big thing in fast interconnects.

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