Skip to comments.The Magic of AMD's Lightning Bolt
Posted on 11/28/2012 10:24:57 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Last year Intel introduced the first products based off of its proprietary Thunderbolt interface. Since then Thunderbolt has made its way into the high-end motherboard market and into laptops from a number of major OEMs. Of course these have all been laptops and motherboards based on Intel platforms, and AMD has been essentially unable to respond. But even without any direct competition, Intel has been having quite a bit of trouble convincing consumers to adopt Thunderbolt. One of the biggest barriers to the wide spread adoption of Thunderbolt has been its relative cost compared to USB 3.0 and other standardized technologies. Thus Intel has yet again created an opening for a low cost competitor to spark some life into this otherwise dull market segment, and AMD is working to be that competitor.
To this end AMD has Lightning Bolt. Now Lightning Bolt doesn’t attack the same high-bandwidth market that Thunderbolt is aimed at, (that’s what external PCI-E is for) but it does attack the more practical side of Thunderbolt by taking the multi-device and electric charging capabilities that Thunderbolt offers and expanding upon them. Lightning Bolt allows for a single DisplayPort 1.2 connector, using a special Lightning Bolt capable cable, to connect to a dock. The dock is able to power up to three additional display outputs, as many USB ports as you want, a gigabit Ethernet port, audio ports, and will even charge your laptop.
(Excerpt) Read more at semiaccurate.com ...
I’m going to make a new processor called the “Hex Tap Bolt”. Doesn’t do much, but, then again, it never comes back with a blue screen of death or any other errors....
Well,....before we would consider a buy,...we would need more details.
by Anand Lal Shimpi on 1/12/2012 9:11:00 PM
One of the things I love the most about AMD is the balance it provides to Intel. While I've spent much of CES looking for Thunderbolt products and lamenting the cost of controllers and devices, AMD put together a concept it calls Lightning Bolt.
Lightning Bolt is an AMD technology that can deliver USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Power over a single cable with mini DisplayPort connectors. I saw the technology demonstrated live, however I wasn't allowed to take any photos.
When Apple is already using the term Lightning to describe its new connector for portable devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), how does AMD expect to get away using the nearly identical term Lightning Bolt on a new kind of port? Even Apple had to pay Harley-Davidson for the right to use the Lightning trademark.
For the record, Thunderbolt is to USB3, what Firewire (ieee-1394) was to USB 1.1. No comparison in capacity, latency and performance. Like with firewire, cost and lack of backward compatibility will limit the audience.
Tbis is really cool. Now we have more cables for people to get confused about.
July 27, 2012 · 2:59 pm by Paul Wordman
Whether intended or not, proprietary hardware or functionality not only confuses many consumers, but also locks them into using a companys products; and Intels proprietary Thunderbolt port may be a good example of that. Intel has previously indicated that Thunderbolt technology is aimed primarily at professionals, and not mainstream consumers; but at the same time appears to be pushing it into as many consumer products as possible.
Intels Thunderbolt solution basically acts as an internal extension-cord for a computers internal native PCIe lanes (Peripheral Component Interface Express), and brings them to the outside, thereby opening up a bi-directional, high-speed, proprietary connector capable of carrying a DisplayPort signal. Thunderbolt has the disadvantage of currently supporting only two protocols, DisplayPort, and PCI Express, with no expectation that other protocols will be added in the near future. The required proprietary cables for implementing Thunderbolt connectivity are expensive.
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) on the other hand, is basing its own Lightning Bolt I/O (Input / Output) technology on the USB 3.0 standard, and it utilizes an almost standard mini-DisplayPort cable incorporating changes on only two of the pins. That means it could plug into the Mini-DisplayPort on your notebook, which is also known as MiniDP or mDP.
When implemented by laptop manufacturers, AMDs single-cable solution will integrate an internal laptop multiplexer (mux) that combines USB 3.0, DisplayPort Video, Ethernet, and power on the previously mentioned almost standard MiniDP cable, at a fraction of the prices currently seen for proprietary Intel-based Thunderbolt solutions. AMD reports their Lightning Bolt components added to a laptop could cost as little as one dollar. The docking station or hub that would accompany that technology is expected to cost about the same amount as a standard USB 3.0 hub.
Laptops with AMDs Lightning Bolt will be produced toward the end of 2012, and because it is still in the roll-out stage, precise speeds are yet to be determined. Because it is based on the USB 3.0 standard, it is inevitable that Lightning Bolt speeds will progress over time, as the USB standard continues to develop.
AMD has said that Intels Thunderbolt does not substantially outperform currently available I/O technologies, and in some cases offers even lower bandwidth. AMD stated that the total bandwidth claimed for an Intel Thunderbolt channel is a mere 20% higher than one PCI Express 3.0 lane, and just a little more than 50% higher than a single USB 3.0 port.
Another disadvantage for Intel is that notebook manufacturers must use additional controllers to make their laptops compatible with Thunderbolt. As a result there are currently very few devices on the market that can take advantage of the expensive to implement Thunderbolt solution. AMDs Lightning Bolt does not require the multiple controllers or expensive cables required by Intels Thunderbolt. In 2011 Thunderbolt was introduced as a feature on Apple computer products, and has experienced very little adoption in the marketplace.
With AMDs Lightning Bolt you have a usable USB 3.0 port and both backward and forward USB compatibility, no matter what happens to that technology in the future.
A disadvantage for AMDs Lightning Bolt is that a hub is required, but that hub is expected to cost about the same amount as a standard USB 3.0 hub. Taking that into consideration, it is still a far more cost-effective solution, with both backward and forward-looking compatibility, and speed improvements related to the ongoing progress of the USB standard.
Perhaps adding more confusion, Intel says Thunderbolt can scale up to higher speeds when the technology is implemented on fiber-optics, but that also seems to apply to the USB standard, and would provide speed increases for AMDs Lightning Bolt as well.
USB is a mature standard technology, and it is not going away anytime soon. Hewlett-Packard (HP) already has committed exclusively to USB 3.0, and as a result, the market for Intels Thunderbolt is decreasing. The cost of implementing Thunderbolt is beyond excessive. Seagate, for example, offers a Backup Plus external hard drive with USB 3.0 included, but recently the Thunderbolt upgrade increased the price by more than 82%, and in addition to that, the required proprietary cables are costly.
When AMDs Lightning Bolt products first start appearing toward the end of 2012, that technologys claims to fame will be its backward and forward compatibility, low cost, and most of all, USB 3.0, DisplayPort Video, Ethernet, and power through a single-cable.
AMD might want to consider somehow moving Lightning Bolt partially or completely toward an open source standard. There must be some modus operandi by which they could temporarily limit their primary competitors access to AMDs Lightning Bolt technology, while making it available for just about everyone else to develop.
Dont ever think for even a minute that the best technologies always win. They frequently dont. A gorilla at the playground can often beat-up the smaller, but very intelligent so-called nerd. Intel may know their Thunderbolt will fade from the scene in the same way that FireWire has diminished, but it may still be used to keep the smaller nerd from getting a decent meal at the cafeteria. Right about now AMD could really use a good, hot meal.
Thunderbolt isn’t taking off, and probably never will, because it’s essentially a niche market for high-bandwidth devices that have a ball-busting price tag. USB 3 and HDMI will more than handle the needs of most users.
not saying anything about the word Lighting
news.softpedia.com News Editor Blogs Technology Jun 8, 2012 It looks like ASUS' solution to give AMD-based systems support for Intel's Thunderbolt technology was made more for its own benefit than ...
I have to admit, I don’t understand any of this! LOL.
Looks like AMD will win on this architecture.
Apple already did this with the Apple Display Connector, USB, DVI and power all in one cable. It didn’t last long because it didn’t really offer anything more than cable reduction.
Laptops are nice and mobile -- (My son and I go around about his total disdain for my custom built Tower Machines)
However laptops have a lot of limitations....
Connectivity to multiple devices and speed when connected to them.
This removes some of those limitations.
This doesn’t help with speed over a laptop with DisplayPort and USB3. All it does combine cables, which as I noted even Apple gave up when it doesn’t give any other advantages.
Apple Display Connector > Lightning Bolt
USB > USB 3
DVI > DisplayPort
Power > Power
Same thing, just a newer generation.
Thunderbolt, now that removes your speed limitation. You can even hook up an external graphics card. In addition, you aren’t limited to the inefficiencies of the USB protocol. Theoretically, you get about 60% of that 5 Gb/s raw rate; realistically, even lower.
Thunderbolt is about to get some competition. At CES last week, AMD showed us a little something it's been working on: a competing high-speed interface standard.
The standard's name? Lightning Bolt.
Don't be too quick to roll your eyes and groan. At least on paper, Lightning Bolt sounds like a very tantalizingand perhaps superioralternative to the Intel-backed solution. It's an open standard that's considerably cheaper to implement, and it offers several features that Thunderbolt does not.
According to AMD, a top-to-bottom Thunderbolt solution costs the end user around $380that's $299 for the hub, $50 for the cable, and a $30 implementation cost for the motherboard. (Other industry sources we spoke to echoed that last figure.) By contrast, AMD claims a similar Lighting Bolt getup will only set you back $50-75, with implementation costs below $10 for hardware manufacturers. And, since Lightning Bolt uses DisplayPort 1.2 connectors and cables, laptop and motherboard makers won't have to accommodate an extra port.
Despite the substantially lower cost, Lightning Bolt has an impressive array of features. It supports stereoscopic 3D and can drive four displays from a single port. It offers dedicated USB 3.0 peripheral bandwidth, and it can power a notebook through the DisplayPort connector alone. The power delivery is particularly interesting; as we understand it, users could leave their laptop's AC adapter at home and use a Lightning Bolt hub to charge their laptop. Thunderbolt, AMD says, matches none of those features and can only drive a single display.
Unfortunately, AMD made it clear to us that cross-compatibility between Thunderbolt and Lightning Bolt isn't in the cards. Hardware makers could theoretically support both interfaces in a single device, however, since both interfaces use DisplayPort cables and connectors (though Thunderbolt favors mini-DisplayPort).
You can expect to see Lightning Bolt in the wild as soon as the second half of the year. AMD says four or five "solutions providers" are currently making hubs. There's no telling whether the interface will be successful or even stand a chance of toppling Thunderbolt. Based on what we saw and heard, though, we can't help but be somewhat enthused.
Thunderbolt currently gives about 3x the real-world speed of USB 3, so waiting a year for a speed doubling isn’t really hurting the standard vs. the competition.
Thunderbolt is designed to daisy-chain, you don't need a hub.
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