top_ten_things_thunderbolt

Thunderbolt, its clearly a win win situation with the new Intel connection at the moment, and when we found out that someone had written a top ten guide, well we had to find out more.

Jigsaw is a leading provider of IT solutions, consultancy and support services to organisations with creative requirements, and is the largest supplier of Apple and Adobe solutions in the UK. Our product specialists, project managers and technical consultants work with a number of world-leading technology manufacturers to bring advanced solutions to both public and private sector organisations. Customers include most of the major UK publishing, TV and film companies, top creative and advertising agencies and over 500 universities and colleges. Jigsaw’s broadcast division has a close working relationship with key broadcast players such as Avid, Cineform, DaVinci, Quantum and Sony, allowing us to offer some of the best Consultancy on IT infrastructure, digital workflow, SANs and other collaborative working environments. Excellent service and support give Jigsaw a turn-around time of one of the UKs super Value Added Reseller.

This is what they have to say about Thunderbolt:

Since being announced earlier this year, Thunderbolt has generated more press releases, product announcements and wildly speculative blog posts than you can shake a memory stick at. So we thought we'd do everyone a favour and sift through the speculation in order to find the top ten reasons to love Intel's new connection.

1. It's fast

Let's start with the obvious. That bi-directional 10 GBps bus speed far outstrips any other connection you'll find on most computers - it's eight times faster than FireWire 800 and twenty times what you can coax out of USB 2.0. This is big news for anyone who regularly works with HD video and D.I. workflows - Intel reckon that sending an entire HD movie over a Thunderbolt connection should take "about thirty seconds," though we don't know what type of HD movie they mean...

2. It's a clutter killer

Because Thunderbolt can transfer video, audio and 10 watts of power, you only need one cable to link out to any given device. You can then daisy chain that device to up to five others without losing speed - again only using a single cable - so you can get access to all your favourite I/O, storage and display devices without turning your desktop into a rats' nest of cables.

3. You can carry on using your existing connections (sort of)


Sonnet alone are planning to release adaptors that let you use FireWire 800 devices, Gigabit Ethernet connection and PCIe cards with your Thunderbolt-generation iMac or MacBook Pro, and they're not the only ones on an adaptor kick. With all the compatibility aids slated for release in the coming months, making the switch to Thunderbolt doesn't have to mean giving up on your favourite tried and tested devices.

4. There are some amazing DAS devices on the way

pegasusrx_200x120Lots of manufacturers are gearing up to make storage devices that will take advantage of Thunderbolt's blistering speed. One of the best announced so far is Promise Technology's Pegasus range. These Time Machine-compatible drives can hold up to 12TB and deliver 800 MBps of sustained throughput, so you could conceivably edit multiple streams of uncompressed 8- and 10-bit video on your MacBook Pro. You can even link multiple Pegasuses (Pegasi?) together if you need more space, attach a high res monitor for instant playback, or hook it up to another Thunderbolt device for loop through.

5. It means SAN for everyone

When Promise announced the SANLink at NAB 2011, no-one was giddier than the Jigsaw Broadcast team. Available later this summer, the SANLink gives users access to a dual 4G Fibre Channel link and two Thunderbolt ports, an innovation which Promise hopes will "bring SAN to the masses." It means post-production teams up and down the country can get easy access to Fibre Channel SAN setups from any Thunderbolt-enabled device, and should make collaborating on big projects a breeze.

6. It'll work with any PCIe card

echo_express_chassis_200x200...well, with a bit of help from Sonnet. Their Echo Express PCIe 2.0 Expansion Chassis (link removed) lets you plug any high-performance PCIe 2.0 adapter card into any Thunderbolt-enabled computer. Video capture cards, 8Gb Fibre Channel cards, 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards, RAID controller cards and potentially even GPUs are all fair game.

The Echo Express comes in two sizes: one that supports a single half-length, double-width, x16 (x4 mode) slot PCIe 2.0 card, and a supersized XL model that supports full-length cards. Conveniently, both come with their own PSU and fan.

7. It brings top I/O capabilities to your laptop

Specifically, we're thinking of Blackmagic Design's UltraStudio 3D, which was another big NAB hit. As a solution for capturing S3D footage via dual HDSDI or frame-packed HDMI 1.4a, it's pretty impressive on its own, but when linked to a larger device (it captures two streams of 1080p HD to separate QuickTime or PPX files), you can also loop it through a Pegasus to create a solution that'll work with your Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro.

8. It'll work with any MXO2 device

Matrox has promised us Thunderbolt-equipped versions of their full MXO2 range in July, and an adaptor box that will allow any current PCIe-dependent MXO2 device to connect to a Thunderbolt port.

9. It lets you record 3 Gbps SDI via a laptop

'Nuff said.

10. There's no escape

With Apple continuing to roll out Thunderbolt on new devices (including the latest generation of iMacs) and manufacturers gearing up to release ever more Thunderbolt-friendly peripherals, it's safe to say that Thunderbolt is here to stay. And, rather than becoming the modern equivalent of the last Betamax owner in town, we'd recommend getting in on the ground floor, having a gander at the new opportunities offered and looking for ways to make your production and post workflow speedier and more streamlined now, before everyone else has the chance to catch up. After all, Apple only have exclusivity on this for a year, and a version which allows optical connections is already on the way...