Intel’s Thunderbolt technology hasn’t really kicked off to a great start. Sure, Apple has adopted it in their line of MacBooks, last year, but we haven’t really seen many peripherals that use this interface and those that do aren’t exactly cheap. Now, according to Dave Salvator, a spokesperson for Intel, the chip company is trying to integrate PCI-E 3.0 into Thunderbolt for an even faster data transfer speed. No details were disclosed as to when can we expect to see this new technology, as of yet.
Getting even faster
Currently, Thunderbolt supports two types of communication protocol – PCI Express 2.0 for data transfer and DisplayPort for video signals. The technology enables data streams in both directions, so you can get the full bandwidth over a single cable. The idea is to have a single interface cable for multiple types of data streams between the host computer and a peripheral device. For instance, if you connect a storage device to Thunderbolt today, then the data will be sent across the PCI-E bus and if the same cable is connected to a display, then one may output a high bitrate video signal over DisplayPort.
Now, Intel plans on integrating PCI-E 3.0 interconnect into Thunderbolt for an even faster transfer speed. This could also eliminate the lag time encountered in current technologies, like USB. PCI-E 3.0 can support data transfers up to 8GB/s, while the current PCI-E 2.0 maxes out at 5GB/s. Current Thunderbolt implementations use copper wires, but Intel may very well go with optical connections, if they plan on reaching those speeds and even further. Intel’s new Xeon E5 chip already has a PCI-E 3.0 controller embedded at the chip level and so will the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs. While it’s great to have a faster interface for transferring data, we also need to see a rise in peripheral devices that support it, if it has to be adopted by the masses. Presumably, there would be an initial cost boundary, but that shouldn’t last, as long as OEM’s start integrating this into their product line-up.