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Intel to Strike Thunderbolt in CPUs

Ryan Shrout
5/31/2017 08:00 AM EDT

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realjjj
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Re: And our smartphones will use ethernet...
realjjj   6/6/2017 2:30:22 AM
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PC sales have peaked in 2011 at just above 350 million units and around that time the projections were some 500 million unit by 2015. In 2016 IDC had the market at some 260 million units. However there is a large gap between consumer and commercial, the consumer market is going away much faster.

This decade, foldable displays in phones will accelerate the decline with units falling bellow 200 million per year in 2020 -research firms keep claiming that the market will stabilize but every year proves them wrong.

The bigger trend are glasses.You have a much wider field of view than any monitor or number of monitors can offer and , at maturity, costs will be favorable too vs large displays. With such displays , glasses open up a lot of new possibilities for computing devices and they'll be able to seamlessly integrate older hardware in the workflow. The mechanical volume available is very limiting but the vast majority of users don't need much compute. The ones that do need more, can use remote compute and in some cases that can be a PC that's under the desk in the early stages. The consumer market will transition faster but once commercial starts to replace PCs with glasses, the PC goes to 0 and does so relatively fast.

Some will insist on the need for compute but today you have 1000$ notebooks or convertibles that have the multi core CPU performance similar to 200$ phones. Compute has very little value for the vast majority of users nowadays.

As for external data paths, niche applications that require very fast ones are there but the vast majority of users don't need much and wireless is more convenient - convenience always wins with consumers. We are talking about what might dominate the market not niche.

Keyboards should survive even with glasses but they don't require much bandwidth and the transition to wireless has started a long time ago. NAND based thumb drives are still very popular but the storage needs for the average Joe are shifting towards the cloud while NAND prices are starting to allow for sufficient storage even in phones. Even for a phone dock, what would you rather use, an actual dock that costs an extra 100$ or just connect to a monitor over WiFi ad?

Devices are smaller and smaller, more integrated while the cloud is also a factor in how we use our devices.

Power delivery is more complicated as wireless is far behind. If smartphone users would never have to actively charge devices and the device would just charge when in a room equipped with a charger, that would be a game changer and one could begin to phase out the USB connector.

Craig_Wiley
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Don't forget about DP Alt Mode, which TB3 also supports
Craig_Wiley   6/6/2017 1:10:57 AM
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Ryan, in your Blog, you contrast Thunderbolt with native mode USB-C (USB Type-C), and include high resolution HDR displays as something Thunderbolt enables.  Actually, non-Thunderbolt USB-C can also offer 4K HDR through the use of DisplayPort Alt Mode.  Most USB-C equipped, non-Thunderbolt PCs, as well as many phones, use DisplayPort Alt Mode for the USB-C video out.

Thunderbolt is also an Alt Mode for the USB-C receptacle, and such enabled USB-C receptacle only supports Thunderbolt when it's connected to another Thunderbolt device through a Thunderbolt Cable.  Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, which means it can drive 4K HDR video across a standard USB-C to USB-C cable, or through a USB-C to DP adapter cable.  And a "Thunderbolt to HDMI 2.0 Adapter" is in reality a DP Alt Mode to HDMI 2.0 Adapter, leveraging the DP Alt Mode capability of Thunderbolt.

While not quite offering the ultra-high performance of Thunderbolt, USB-C with DisplayPort Alt Mode already provides 4K at 30Hz (suitable for movies) along with USB 3.1 (10Gbps) and power, or 4K at 60Hz with USB 2.0.   Newer GPUs are starting to enable the latest HBR3 DisplayPort Link Rate, which will allow 4K video with simultaneous USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) along with power, or 4K at >120Hz (for gaming) with USB 2.0.

The new Snapdragon 835 SoC supports USB-C with DisplayPort Alt Mode which means it's being supported in Phones such as the Samsung S8 and others, allowing high performance dock solutions. 

The point is that USB-C does offer a range of connectivity performance, with USB-only as the baseline and Thunderbolt as the premium connectivity, as you described.  But between these two end points there is a large middle-ground being served by USB-C with DisplayPort Alt Mode, providing high speed data, 4K video and power, at a performance level more than adequate for many PC and phone docking applications.

Bert22306
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Re: And our smartphones will use ethernet...
Bert22306   6/5/2017 5:52:30 PM
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We have been hearing of the demise of the PC ever since tablets were introduced, and yet if anything is in steep decline now, that would be tablets. I think if the PC does go away, it will be only be because smartphones will double as PCs, when docked. Otherwise, there's nothing that can do what the PC can do.

We'll need very fast paths for docking whatever devices will host the CPUs and GPUs. Whether that's notebooks or smartphones, or any other small to tiny device, with woefully inadequate built-in I/O for anything but the most trivial of jobs. I don't think that voice commands will replace keyboards and mice for the heavy lifting, and projected holograms will most likely require a larger-than-smartphone device to be the projector. Something has to accommodate the display and input functions.

So bottom line, faster and faster data paths, for such short distances, will be needed. Wired can get there faster than wireless. I'm sure the race will go on for the foreseeable future, but wireless will be playing catch-up all the while.

traneus
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Wireless power problem
traneus   6/3/2017 7:16:31 PM
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Long-distance (separation greater than size of coils or antennas) wireless power has a seldom-mentioned severe problem: Keeping the power away from where the power must not appear.

Ryan Shout referenced a 2008 Intel wireless-power demo at https://www.wired.com/2008/08/intel-demonstra/ which probably exceeds FCC incidental-radiated-power limits by more than 40 dB. An amateur radio operator could key the power on and off with Morse code to implement long-distance radio communications. MFJ Enterprises sells similar coils to run at similar power levels for just this purpose.

I know of two successful long-distance electromagnetic wireless-power systems: solar panels powered by sunlight and crystal radios powered by local AM radio stations.

RyanShrout
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Re: Apple
RyanShrout   6/1/2017 10:17:08 PM
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A couple of points:

1. Intel putting TB3 on the CPU will lower the cost of the connection, and accessories, and thus I expect even low cost notebooks and PCs to integrate it.

2. Intel has been working on wireless power since 2008: https://www.wired.com/2008/08/intel-demonstra/ If they saw that as the immediate next step, rather than several years away (at best), I think they may not bet as hard on TB3 today.

RyanShrout
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Re: Deja-vu...
RyanShrout   6/1/2017 10:13:40 PM
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While definitely true, I don't think that means Intel should stop trying to promote the standard that they (and many others including myself) believe is the better overall solution.

What are its primary competitors in your mind? WiGig? (also Intel...)? USB 3.1? (Thunderbolt is a super-set of this in most instances.)

RyanShrout
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Re: And our smartphones will use ethernet...
RyanShrout   6/1/2017 10:12:16 PM
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I think the death of the PC has been called for time after time, yet still, it is strong. Overall growth has slowed certainly, but Intel and AMD see increases in some of the higher performance areas, that DO need this kind of bandwidth. And more important may be the power delivery part of the equation.

I definitely don't understand the claim that Intel doesn't have the scale to drive adoption of a standard like Thunderbolt. Seems like a dubious thought.

Doug_S
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Re: Apple
Doug_S   6/1/2017 3:32:31 PM
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Apple was rumored to be working on wireless power that works over a distance of multiple feet, based on technology from a company they acquired a few years back. If they were able to deliver that, it would be much better than the current wireless solutions - it doesn't really benefit you to have to lay your phone/laptop on a charging pad - all it saves you is the two seconds to plug in the phone/laptop from the charger you could have located in the same place. A single charger that charges/powers everything in the room from a laptop to a phone to a mouse to a keyboard and perhaps even a monitor (may not be enough power for that) would be a major change.

Wireless data is fine to a point, but there's no way you will equal wired for the ability to deliver high speeds of data, certainly not at the same power. I don't think there's much need on the consumer side for 40Gb Thunderbolt vs 10Gb USB3.1, but the prosumer/corporate market will have some uses for it. Cheap PCs may not bother to make use of Thunderbolt, but the more expensive ones will.

realjjj
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Re: Apple
realjjj   6/1/2017 2:58:54 AM
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But is Thunderbolt what the world needs?

Ideally you want low cost, low power and wireless while delivering sufficient bandwidth and power.

If you think about it , wired is more about power delivery than data transfer. USB is mostly used to charge phones or power peripherals/accessories that don't have their own power source.

WiFi or 5G can't do power delivery yet but that would be the path forward, The world needs better batteries and better wireless charging as bandwidth is more than sufficient for most applications. Mechanical volume and cost is problematic today for wireless charging.

Apple is rumored to be adding wireless charging this year. Short term they'll overcharge for the the charger and generate billions in revenue every year but beyond that the path forward is about more than just revenue.

Could be interesting if they have a magnetic area on the back of the phone used not only for charging but that can wirelessly power accessories- just came up with the idea , yet to figure out how to best implement it and if it's feasible.

Long story short, you got data and power, wireless has been focused on just data and needs to catch up.

resistion
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Apple
resistion   5/31/2017 11:28:32 PM
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Apple was also involved in developing Thunderbolt. Maybe they have more leverage to drive its adoption.

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