The tail end of this month is pretty hectic with the release of two highly anticipated major titles. Rise of the Tomb Raider finally finds its way on the PC platform and supports a huge array of exclusive features including PureHair, deformable snow, advanced lighting effects, HBAO+ and more! The studio responsible for the PC edition is Nixxes software who created the original PC reboot. As you might expect, they are absolute masters when it comes to PC optimization, and initial reports regarding performance are promising. Another game which is bound to cause a great deal of excitement is The Division. The beta begins on the 29th for PC players, and should test people’s hardware quite well. As always with Ubisoft games, it’s important to analyse the level of optimization as historically, many games perform quite poorly on various configurations.
In preparing for the upcoming releases, NVIDIA has launched the 361.75 Game Ready driver. As you might expect, this includes the driver optimizations just in time for Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Division’s arrival. On another note, the driver contains SLI profiles for Metal Gear Solid V’s multiplayer, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo, Tomb Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Tom Clancy’s The Division. It’s great to see SLI support for triple-A games on launch, and I’m interested to see how well these engines scale across multiple GPUs. Another interesting addition is the support for Thunderbolt 3 external graphics cards. It’s now possible to purchase a Thunderbolt-powered enclosure and upgrade your graphics hardware for a notebook quite easily.
Rise of the Tomb Raider’s launch is remarkably close and we’re hoping to do some coverage regarding its performance across a number of resolution options. This also applies to The Division which looks pretty impressive and I cannot wait to test it on a 21:9 monitor!
Asus and Razer are both releasing graphics card enclosures in 2016, bringing desktop GPU power to laptops via a Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connection. The ROG XG Station 2 from Asus and Razer’s Core enclosures were unveiled at CES last week, PCGamesN reports, and both provide an alternative to bulky gaming laptops – that alternative being an even bulkier unit, comparable in size to a mini PC – hot on the heels of Alienware’s Titan X-powered Graphics Card Amplifier.
The Asus ROG XG Station 2 is “a custom interface that lets notebooks harness the power of desktop graphics cards to significantly boost gaming performance,” according to the company’s press release (via PC World). While the ROG XG Station 2 is “specifically designed for Asus laptops and graphics cards,” it works with other systems and cards and uses PCI-E x4 across two Thunderbolt 3.0/USB Type-C connections.
The Razer Core, meanwhile, has a 500w power supply, which can power most any high-end graphics card, with four USB 3.0 ports to both provide power and pass through data to a laptop, plus an Ethernet port, according to PC Gamer. Its Thunderbolt connector supports up to 40Gb/s bandwidth.
Neither Asus nor Razer have announced the price or release dates for their respective graphics card enclosures.
Would you like the option to be able to turn your laptop into a gaming rig, or are you happy relying on your desktop PC?
CES 2016: The Gigabyte BRIX series exemplifies how compact barebone systems can be and created a new small form factor which seemed impossible at the time. Recently, Gigabyte decided to update the range to add support for Intel’s latest 6th generation processors. More specifically, models come in a number of i3, i5 and i7 variants to give users the flexibility to purchase the SKU which suits their specific requirements. As expected, the many of BRIX units support for a 2.5″ SSD/HDD as well as a copious supply of USB connectors.
During CES this year, Gigabyte showcased the new BRIX units which feature Thunderbolt 3 connectivity which is available over USB 3.1 Type-C. This 40Gb/s connector can daisy chain up to 12 devices and supports Display 1.2 to cope with 4K setups. On another note, Thunderbolt 3’s Power Delivery 2.0 is so useful to quickly charge smartphones, tablets and other essential equipment.
The latest NAS from QNAP was on display at CES 2016, and it’s a serious powerhouse targeted at the professional video and image editing market. To facilitate the needs of those who do a lot of multimedia processing, the TVS-871T Thunderbolt comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-4790S, although an i5-4590S is also available; each comes equipped with 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
You’ll find a lot of great features here, such as QTS 4.2, Qsirch, mobile access and more. Connectivity is amazing too, with dual thunderbolt ports, 2 x LAN and 2 x 10GbE ports (10GBased-T), four three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0. This means we’ve got wide support for high transfer speeds over network, direct to PC and MAC.
Of course, this 8-bay powerhouse won’t come cheap, and prices will be $4399 and $4799 for the i5 and i7 models respectively.
Intel’s latest Skylake architecture is built on the 14nm manufacturing process and designed to replace the previous generation, Haswell Refresh CPUs. However, the Core i7-6700K is currently a poor value proposition throughout Europe and costs upwards of £350. While the Z170 motherboards are an affordable proposition, some consumers are still waiting for CPU price cuts before considering making the switch. Furthermore, the i7-6700K is priced incredibly close to the X99-based Core i7 5820K which contains 6 cores and provides enhanced performance in multi-threaded workstation tasks.
Eventually, Skylake K-series CPUs should fall to reasonable pricing around the £250 mark and increase the sales of Z170 motherboards. The latest motherboard to arrive at eTeknix headquarters is the Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 TH which supports 3-way SLI, Turbo B-Clock Tuning IC, SATA Express, USB 3.1 Type-C and 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 capable of powering dual 4K displays at 60Hz. Gigabyte’s engineering team has developed a feature-rich motherboard which utilizes the fastest connectivity options on the market. As a result, I expect it to perform remarkably well in every benchmark.
Packing and Accessories
The Z170X-UD5 TH is bundled in a visually appealing black and gold box which clearly displays the unit’s Thunderbolt 3 functionality.
On the rear, Gigabyte focused on the huge connectivity options and impressive speeds which come from Thunderbolt 3, and Intel’s USB 3.1 controller.
In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a user’s manual, installation guide, I/O shield, SLI bridge and driver disk.
Gigabyte also includes a G Connector to easily conect front panel headers, SATA cables and Rear I/O dust covers. These covers should prolong the rear connector’s lifespan as dust build-up can cause damage over time.
Thunderbolt may soon go mainstream and ubiquitous. Intel has announced Thunderbolt 3 with a crucial new feature, USB Type-C connectors. Not only will Thunderbolt 3 use USB Type-C ports, it will also support the USB 3.1 protocol and provide up to 100W though the USB Power Delivery spec. Bandwidth has also doubled to 40Gbps and non-USB PD power delivery increased to 15W. Unfortunately, backwards compatibility with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 is not guan teed and requires an adapter.
Backed by Intel’s new controller, Alpine Ridge, Thunderbolt 3 utilizes either 4 PCIe 3 lanes to drive two ports or 2 PCIe 3 lanes to drive a single port. USB 3.1 support is baked into Alpine Ridge meaning all Thunderbolt 3 ports can connect to USB devices as well. Up to 2 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display, again at 60Hz, can be driven with support for Display Port 1.2. 10Gb Ethernet can also run on Thunderbolt 3 as well.
Building in USB into Thunderbolt is for sure going to increase the chances of adoption. Instead of having to build separate USB and Thunderbolt ports, firms can just use Thunderbolt ports and support both protocols. Cost is reduced as well with only the controller to mainly worry about as normal Type-C cables will run Thunderbolt 3 just fine. It would not be surprising to see eventually see laptops with just 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and maybe an extra Type-C port for larger models. The move to Type-C also means Thunderbolt can not move into smaller devices like phones and tablets. Thunderbolt may finally be the one port to rule them all, for those that pay for the controller of course.
Computex 2015 – We stopped by the QNAP booth to check out what they had in stock this year and it’s far from the usual.
On display is the new TS-871T that isn’t just an NAS with iSCSI support, it is also a DAS unit allowing you to connect it directly via a high-speed Thunderbolt interface. Usually you just get one or the other, but not so with QNAP that packed it all into one great unit especially great for video professionals.
Not only is the TSV-871T a triple storage solution, it also packs an amazing punch under the hood. It is based around a quad-core Intel i7 CPU and supports full 4K video output via the built-in HDMI connector.
Eight drive bays and 16GB RAM will make everything run as smooth as it should. A unit like this can’t be missing QNAP’s amazing QvPC technology that allows you to run almost any operating system in a virtual environment and directly on the NAS thanks to the VMstation.
The two expansion slots are used for the Thunderbolt and extra 10GB/s LAN connections here, but that could technically be changed to whatever you need – if you need more. The units already has everything you could want from normal Gigabit Ethernet ports over 10GbE and Thunderbolt to USB 2.0 and 3.0. A universal connection wonder.
On the demo stand the unit was connected directly to an Apple system for a demonstration of the Thunderbolt Interface.
Transfer speeds of up to 950MB/s isn’t something you’ll see every day from NAS units.
New is also the Qsirch, a google like search but for your NAS. This new feature will easily allow you find anything you remember to have stored on your NAS just as easy as it is to use any search engine.
Cloud backup is an important factor these days, both for collaborating on work but also for extra safekeeping of your files in case disaster should strike. QNAP has this covered from Microsoft OneDrive over GoogleDrive to Dropbox and Amazon’s Cloud server. FTP, Microsoft networking, and WebDAV are also part of QNAPs functions.
Streaming and playback isn’t an issue either. Select the output device and connection and it’s playing.
Storage snapshots are just what they sound like and allow you to rollback to previous times in your storage. Messed something up? just go back to previous backups and restore it.
Sony has unveiled their newest portable HDD for professionals, offering up to 2TB capacity and dual USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interface. The durable drive is perfect for working in the field and creating extra backups of recorded content while keeping it all safe.
The new 1TB sized PSZ-HB1T and 2TB sized PSZ-HB2T can perform with up to 122MB/s at both reads and writes as well as being extra durable. Both the internal and external components have been optimized for rugged usage and the drive passes the military drop tests and they’re also both IP5X dust and IPX4 splash resistant.
The rubber encasing doesn’t just help the Sony Pro storage series to keep your drives safe, they’re also designed to make the drives stackable. The open design in the middle allows the drives to maintain a good heat dissipation through the gap, even when stacked.
The drives also come with a practical carrying case that has room both the cables and the drive itself. It also has a handy slip where you can write what content you got on there.
The new Sony PSZ-HB2T and PSZ-HB1T HDDs are planned to be available in May 2015 with suggested pricing to be determined.
Asus has just launched its latest gaming notebook, the G501, featuring the latest solution in mobile GPU, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. However, the graphics solution is not the only amazing thing to be noticed in this notebook.
The G501 features a completely new design compared to its predecessor. It measures in at just 0.81-inches thick and weighs in at 4.5 lbs, which is quite impressive since the notebook is a 15.6-inch display model.
The display equipped features a resolution of 3840 x 2160 4K IPS, similar to the GX500 model. In terms of specifications, the G501 comes with Intel’s 4th Gen Haswell Core i7 4720HQ and M2 PCIe SSD drives, claiming to deliver up to 1,400 MB/s speeds. Asus has also added a Thunderbolt port, similar to other ROG notebooks.
The Asus G501 is said to be available next month in the US at a starting price of $1,999 which will get you the notebook featuring the Intel Core i7 4720HQ CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB M2 PCIe SSD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M and 4K resolution display specification.
Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information
While Apple has discounted the price of its Apple TV in North America to $69, the company seems to be doing the exact opposite to a lot of its products around the world. This comes as a result of the US Dollar gaining some ground and becoming stronger in the market.
Apple products which suffered an increase in pricing include the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display, and are now more expensive in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and other countries to reflect currency adjustments.
For example, the Canadian Apple Store shows an increase in unlocked iPhone 6 from between $749-$969 to $839-$1,099, Thunderbolt Displays from $999 to $1,199, and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros from between $2,099-$2,699 to $2,449-$3,049. Apple also upped the price on its 15-inch MacBook Pro in France, with the base model now starting at €2,249 up from €1,999, and the higher-spec model up to €2,799 from €2,499.
Apple is said to continue to make the adjustments in order to ensure that its products and services are as consistently priced as possible throughout the world. However, in some cases, international prices will remain higher than North America prices as a ‘safety’ against currency fluctuations.
Thank you MacRumors for providing us with this information
Seagate has announced that it is to cease mainstream support for the Thunderbolt interconnection standard. The Thunderbolt hardware interface was developed by Intel and Apple as a faster alternative to USB connectors. It is the de facto standard on Apple computers, such as the iMac, but adoption by other platforms has been slow to non-existent.
Now, HDD giant Seagate has dealt the system a significant blow by ending support for it, the company favouring the USB 3.0 standard, and planning ahead for the forthcoming USB 3.1. However, Seagate subsidiary LaCie is to continue Thunderbolt support. LaCie, bought by Seagate in 2012, produces external hard drives designed to fit the Apple aesthetic.
Transcend has announced the launch of their StoreJet for Mac series of external drives. These new drives are designed with Macs in mind and come preformatted HFS+ and fully support Time Machine for simple plug and play. The SJM100 and SJM300 are Portable Hard Drives while the SJM500 is a Portable Solid State Drive. A complete line-up with both large capacities and rapid transfer speeds.
The SJM100 is a USB 3.0 Hard Drive with military-grade data protection. The drive meets the rigorous U.S. military drop-test standards and has a slip-resistant silicone casing that is reinforced by an internal hard drive suspension damper. This design should absorb a maximum of shock damage. This drive will be available with 2TB storage, enough for 512 hours of Full HD video. Another added feature is the One-touch auto-backup button that works together with the Transcend Elite software. Once configured, all you need to do is press a button to backup and synchronize your files.
The SJM300 is an altered version of the SJM100 that features a Thunderbolt port and cable instead of the extra shock resistance. The SJM500 is a portable USB 3.0 SSD with UASP support as well as a Thunderbolt port. The specifications list a performance up to 440MB/s while reading and the SSD will be available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities.
All three drives come with a three-year warranty and of course also support other operating systems, it just requires a re-format.
Thanks to Transcend for providing us with this information
As we continue round the halls and suites at this years Computex, it has only been a matter of time before we catch up with Gigabyte on one of their many stands. Looking through the massive array of products that are on show, the top end motherboards have always grabbed our attention and this year is by no means any exception.
The first motherboard that we come across is the top of the line Z97X-UD7 TH. Like previous generation boards, TH stands for Thunderbolt and on the back of the board we find two Thunderbolt ports alongside six USB3.0 ports, a spread of display outputs and Gigabit LAN. Inside the chassis users will have access to the latest SATA Express interface, three PCIe x16 lanes, three x1 lanes, Ultra Durable components, Realtek Audio and support for both 4th and 5th Generation Intel processors.
For the mainstream gamer, Gigabyte have recently refreshed their gaming orientated motherboards with the move to a red and black colour scheme (as everyone seems to be doing these days) and with Gigabyte’s Z97X-Gaming series of boards, we are not short of goodies.
Both the G1 and the GT boards follow a similar layout with the Gigabyte ‘Eye’ on the chipset cooler, support for 4 way SLI and CrossFire configurations and not forgetting both 4th and 5th generation Haswell processors. To give the gamers edge to both of these boards we find KillerLAN E2200 controllers on offer as well as OP-AMP audio – the G1 offering the better deal with a slightly higher spec to the caps and audio decoder.
Further along the motherboard line up we find a new series of boards that are soon to be available on the enthusiast market. Finished off with the ‘Black Edition’ tag line, these boards are for the out-and-out enthusiast who wants nothing but pure performance out of their system. Featuring SATA Express and M.2 SSD interfaces, the Black Edition boards combine many of the features from both the ranges above, including KillerLAN and Op-AMP audio, as well as carefully selected and binned components that are more capable of delivering the power to an overclocked and very hungry CPU. Estimated to be more expensive than both of the ranges detailed above, the Black Edition boards are Gigabyte’s answer to the black edition motherboards that we’ve seen from the likes of Asus.
The last set of boards that we come to are above all else in a league of their own – especially when it comes to performance. Dressed in Gigabyte’s black and orange overclocking outfit, these boards are what legendary overclockers such as HiCookie and Dinos22 use when they’re pushing processors, graphics cards and memory to the absolute limits.
In between the two boards that are on display (Z97X-SOC and Z97X-SOC Force for reference) is a smaller board with a plastic orange shroud over it and a massive fan. To the untrained eye this board has no meaning or use, but for the professionals like HiCookie (pictured below), this board, known as the G-Powerboard, delivers 24 phases and up to 750W of power directly to a modified graphics card, giving them the power they need to run at much higher clock speeds when under LN2, compared to the standard power delivery system that is found on a run-of-the-mill GPU. For extreme overclockers, the G-Powerboard is quite simply a must-have bit of kit.
Just incase a set of overclocking motherboards and the G-Powerboard wasn’t enough we find one more board on display that for the general consumer is virtually useless, but for the guys that only run on LN2, this board is a must have. Built very similar to the SOC Force, this LN2 edition board has only 2 DIMM slots and no holes around the CPU socket for mounting a conventional cooling system (hence being rendered useless to Joe-public). By removing the holes, the DIMM slots can be moved closer to the processor, reducing any interference that may cause unstable memory when overclocked – when your only goal is to hit a world record, boards like this is just what you need.
A new leak has surfaced, giving details from the upcoming Intel 3rd generation Thunderbolt technology, suggesting it will offer up the fastest ever speeds from the technology, a staggering 40Gb per second! This makes the new standard twice as fast as the current Thunderbolt 2 technology and as you can see from the leaked PR image above, it’s also backed up by system charging of up to 100w, increased bandwidth, lower Z-height and backwards compatibility.
The new bandwidth capabilities are courtesy of the PCIe 3 support, offering up double the maximum data transfer speeds while also giving us a 50% reduction in power consumption courtesy of the new hardware.
The real world numbers are likely to be a little lower than this of course, we often see early performance figures to be very favourable in terms of benchmarks, as we suspect Intel will have given the “optimum” scenario to favour their technology for this number, but regardless of that fact, it will be fast, more energy efficient and should pave the way from some interesting new uses for the technology. Being able to run two 4K displays with fast data rates and system charging from a single cable is nothing to sneer at, now all we have to do is sit and wait for it to hit the market next year.
Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.
Thunderbolt, on a GPU!? Unfortunately not, the name is a little misleading for certain, but rather than worry about the Intel Thunderbolt interface, this name just demonstrates that the card pretty powerful, perhaps as some sneaky marketing on Zotac’s side of things.
The card features all the usual features for a new generation card, so you’ll find PCI-Express .0 16x, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connection. A GPU core that runs at 1229MHz and 1320MHz at boost speeds, with a 6GHz memory clock. Two 90mm fans cool the card via a large aluminium fin radiator and integrated heat pipes, all neatly dressed in a metal shroud that certainly gives the card some presence.
The card is expected to retail at 1199 Yuan and certainly looks to be one of the most competitive 750 Ti cards on the market, but here comes the bad news, the card isn’t expected to hit the US Market! Given that its price translates to roughly $190, this is a real shame, but maybe gamers from the US can get lucky on an import.
It looks like Intel is continuing on its mission to establish Thunderbolt as the next universal device interconnect standard, despite steep competition from the 5 Gb/s USB 3.0, the upcoming 10 Gb/s USB 3.1, and stringent validation and licensing barriers on its own end. The company outlined its mainstream Thunderbolt controller, which it plans to launch some time in 2014. The company is planning two major introductions to the standard, to help it compete against USB – power delivery, and ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) networking.
The controller named Broadwell Thunderbolt-LP handles a 20 Gb/s Thunderbolt link by aggregating two 10 Gb/s channels, relays DisplayPort 1.2 from the system’s graphics device, and connects to the rest of the system over PCIe 2.0 x2. The chip is built in the 8 x 8 mm package, and features operational and idle TDP ratings of 1.5W and 1mW, respectively. The changes Intel is making to the standard will enable power delivery of up to 53W over a standard tethered cable.
The other big feature is ad-hoc networking, which enables people to set up peer-to-peer 20 Gb/s connections between two PCs much in the same way they did with USB and RS232, back in the day. While it’s no Ethernet replacement, it could prove useful in certain environments, such as content-creation. Intel is expected to make some Thunderbolt-related announcements at CES, next January.
The Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort and miniDisplayPort are on the market but it looks like the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has just announced that it is working on defining a micro-DisplayPort standard which will still be backward-compatible with existing DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort devices and offer beyond 4K Ultra HD connectivity for phones, tablets, and ultra-portables.
VESA won’t solely concentrate on the port itself. Instead, it will be figuring out the final design for the docking connector, receptacle, and cable as well. The new standard is “designed to support data rates for future display bandwidths beyond today’s 4K resolutions” as VESA states, while another goal is to support passive cables up to 1.5m ( 5 feet ) in length, without requiring any sort of repeater or other active component, tech which would be particularly important in smartphones and other portable devices.
The micro-DisplayPort will also allow laptop, tablet and smartphone manufacturers to make even thinner devices. That said, it remains to be seen how Apple and Intel will respond to the smaller connection. Currently, the Thunderbolt technology used on the Mac line-up, with a full six Thunderbolt 2 ports, relies on a mini-DisplayPort connector, which is also backward-compatible with traditional DisplayPort monitors.
A switch to micro-DisplayPort could allow Apple to trim its notebooks even further, and looking at the MacBook Pro 13″ with Retina Display for instance, having a spec of just 3.46 pounds and 0.71-inches thick, who knows how light or thin they could get if the micro-DisplayPort gets standardized.
Thank you Slashgear for providing us with this information
Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 standard is set to be implemented on a pair of Gigabyte motherboards in the near future. Legit Reviews spotted the Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH (above) and the Z87X-UD7 TH (below) motherboards at IDF 2013. Both motherboards implemented the newest version of Thunderbolt which is Thunderbolt 2.0 that has 20 gbps of bandwidth compared to 10 gbps of bandwidth on the first generation. Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 will be backwards compatible with the first generation.
The two motherboards to get these new Thunderbolt ports are both existing current Gigabyte motherboards for the LGA 1150 Z87 platform. Both motherboards get a pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports which are capable of daisy chaining multiple monitors and have integrated DisplayPort 1.2 video outputs that can be used simultaneously with a Thunderbolt storage device. Thunderbolt 2 is physically identical but adds channel aggregation to combine the previously two separate 10 gbps channels in Thunderbolt 1.
All in On PCs can tend to be a little bit bland these days so it is nice to see someone “jazzing them up” a little bit. ASUS’ latest ET2301 AIO PC does exactly that and for an AIO its got reasonably impressive specifications as well as aesthetics. The design is centred around the 23 inch 10 point multi touch full HD display with IPS technology and ASUS SonicMaster Premium built in audio. The internals resemble a notebook, as the base in the picture above shows, and this is largely because it uses “notebook hardware”. An Intel Haswell mobile CPU powers the whole system with some Nvidia GT 740M graphics to support, roughly equivalent to an Nvidia GT 640 DDR3 graphics card.
In terms of connectivity the device is also pretty high-spec. The ET2301 boasts 802.11 AC WiFi, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, Gigabit ethernet and support for ASUS AiCharger II which allows up to twice as fast USB charging even when the PC is shut down. Finally ASUS include their “Ai Crosslink” technology allowing you to hook up a notebook or tablet PC with HDMI and USB cables and you can then use the ET2301 to control that device. Being a touch-screen device it is also worth noting that this device does run Windows 8 too.
The USB promoter group has just announced the completion of the USB 3.1 standard which will allow USB transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The new specification, which can be seen here, will retain the same backward compatibility the USB standard has always had.
The USB-IF group will be hosting developer days in the USA on August 21st, in Europe on October 1st and 2nd and in Asia for two days in early December. This means key interest groups in the USB specification, such as motherboard vendors, storage vendors and so on, will have an opportunity to discuss and figure out ways to implement the new standard.
With 10 Gbps the new USB 3.1 standard will match Intel’s Thunderbolt standard in terms of pure bandwidth. Given USB’s history we can also expect to see the standard be much cheaper than Thunderbolt is on launch, and continue to fall in price over time as the standard gains market traction much like the trajectory USB 3.0 followed.
ASMedia’s USB 3.0 controllers were a huge success in the PC market and we have seen the USB 3.0 standard take off in recent times. ASMedia were the main provider of USB 3.0 controller chips for a long time as chipset manufacturers (mainly Intel and AMD) took a while to natively integrate USB 3.0 into their chipsets. This meant that ASMedia saw strong demand for USB 3.0 as they were the main providers of third party USB 3.0 host controllers to motherboard vendors who wanted to integrate USB 3.0 support.
Now ASMedia are looking to push the USB market forward once again as they are preparing the next incarnation of the USB series according to AppleDaily.com.tw, that is USB 3.5. It is somewhat surprising that they are opting for USB 3.5 not USB 4.0 but either way this new standard effectively doubles current bandwidth (5Gbps) to 10Gbps levels. Furthermore it will continue the USB trend of delivering high power output for device charging and will retain backwards compatibility with all older USB standards.
USB 3.5 is being described as a Thunderbolt killer as it offers the same bandwidth yet will do so at a fraction of the cost. The sluggish demand for Thunderbolt has been shown as a 2 year head start has seen very little progress and even today Thunderbolt is still seen as the overpriced Apple interface thanks to its early exclusivity on the Mac platform.
What do you think of USB 3.5? Is it a good move? Or is it a bit too forward considering not everyone is even onboard with USB 3.0 yet?
When we think of cheap portable storage, USB flash drives, USB sticks, flash drives and thumb drives (and whatever else you like to call them) all come to mind. The core of this design is NAND flash accessible via the USB interface. Yet Intel is looking to change the game by making Thunderbolt a new standard of the flash/thumb drive.
Last week Intel was displaying its prototype to PCWorld at the Computex 2013 show. This prototype was a 128GB Thunderbolt flash drive that uses bandwidth of up to 10Gbps compared to 5Gbps on USB 3.0. The thumb drive uses a Sandisk 128GB SSD and plugs directly into a motherboard thunderbolt plug removing the need for an expensive thunderbolt cable. Intel is probably hoping that Haswell can accelerate the uptake of its Thunderbolt technology but with Thunderbolt still only being available on premium motherboards, like the Gigabyte UD7, we don’t expect mainstream uptake to happen anytime soon and no doubt these types of Thunderbolt flash drives will be extremely expensive luxuries for a small number of end users.
What do you think of Thunderbolt flash drives? Will they ever catch on? Or does Thunderbolt technology need to drop in cost for that to happen first?
ADATA has been very busy at Computex this week showing off a boat load of storage solutions. First up we are going to take a quick look at the new DashDrive devices they were showing off. The first of them was the DashDrive Elite SE720 which is an external SSD storage solution. It features a USB 3.0 interface for rapid file transfers and being an SSD it is a low power option that can be powered totally via the USB 3.0 bus. The design used is ultra slim, portable and has a brushed metal finish which looks pretty darn awesome. The SE720 has an LED activity indicator located at the bottom and is enabled with a one touch back up function. ADATA are currently offering the DashDrive Elite SE720 in 128 or 256GB capacities.
Next up ADATA were showing their new DashDrive Elite SE810 drive. This drive is very similar to the DashDrive Elite SE720 in many ways but has one key unique difference which you may be able to spot in the image below, it has full Intel Thunderbolt support. It features a similar design with a brushed metal finish, portable design and LED activity light. It is also available in 128 or 256GB capacities and has both a USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interface.
When Intel released Ivy Bridge and Z77 we were very surprised to see that Gigabyte didn’t opt for a UD7 motherboard, instead we can assume the Z77X-UP7 was probably the UD7 equivalent. Yet with Haswell and Z87 Gigabyte have gone back to the UD7 naming scheme and have unveiled a rather sexy looking Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 motherboard that has full Thunderbolt support.
Unlike the OC series and G1.Sniper series the GA-Z87X-UD7 TH is a bit different as it isn’t really targeting gamers or overclockers. The Z87X-UD7 TH is targeting the more general computer user who wants premium performance and functionality but isn’t really interested in gaming or overclocking specific features. That said Gigabyte certainly haven’t skimped on anything and the GA-Z87X-UD7 TH looks like an absolutely fantastic motherboard.
Firstly it will be supporting Intel Haswell CPUs and it has a gold plated CPU socket and Ultra Durable 5 components to allow for enhanced overclocking. You can also see a rather meaty heatsink design that will be sure to allow you to push this motherboard to its limits as well as an intuitive dual UEFI BIOS. Additionally there are 9 system fan connectors meaning Gigabyte expects most users to put this in a pretty big case. There is multi-GPU support so you can run up to four way SLI or CrossFire which will be great for content professionals looking to use OpenCL or CUDA acceleration.
Gigabyte have added 10 USB 3.0 ports as well as dual Intel Thunderbolt ports, both excellent features for content professionals who need to move lots of data to and from their PC in a quick and easy way. Gigabyte On/Off charging is supported, a Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi module is provided and there is Intel LAN with high ESD protection. The audio, like all other premium Gigabyte motherboards shown at Computex so far, is provided by Realtek ALC898.
The upcoming Z87 ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard
Z87 and Thunderbolt has been causing a bit of a stir between motherboard vendors recently. ASRock has been bragging recently that they are “the world’s first to add more of these wonderful Thunderbolt ports to the upcoming Intel 8 Series motherboards” to quote their own words from their latest press release statement which we brought you here.
However, unpicking that statement a bit more and we can see it is actually very misleading and other vendors aren’t happy about this. For a couple of reasons. First, is that they cannot prove they were the first to add Thunderbolt to a Z87 motherboard, that is a very loose claim as most big motherboard vendors were all doing a similar thing at the same time during the development process of their Z87 motherboards which probably started well over 9 months ago. Second, is that no one has produced the world’s first Thunderbolt Z87/8 series motherboard until motherboard vendors are allowed to release their motherboards to the public, when this happens we will most likely see ASRock, ASUS and Gigabyte launch their Thunderbolt equipped motherboards at the same time meaning no one is actually “first” or they are all joint first. This is because everyone has to obey the same NDA.
However, in that same press release ASRock did provide the accurate version of that same statement, which isn’t so misleading, stating the “Z87 Extreme9/ac motherboard is the world’s first Intel 8 Series motherboard to pass the Intel Thunderbolt certification” and it is important to note that subtle yet important difference between getting certification for Thunderbolt first, and actually having the first Thunderbolt motherboard.
In response ASUS also clarified with us that their Z87 motherboards will support Thunderbolt too and have been Thunderbolt certified for this. In the image provided by ASUS below you can see proof of this Thunderbolt certification and the inclusion of Thunderbolt ports on one of their upcoming Z87 motherboards.
So while ASRock may have dibs on the first Thunderbolt certification from Intel, ASRock, ASUS and Gigabyte will all have Thunderbolt motherboards ready on Haswell’s launch according to Z87 motherboard previews, rumours and leaks. I have still yet to see evidence of Thunderbolt motherboards coming from MSI, ECS, EVGA and other vendors but we will let you know if that happens.
We have already covered ASRock’s Z87 motherboard line up on a couple of occasions, with the full line up here and the Extreme 4 and Pro 3 pictured and detailed in a bit of depth here. Now ASRock have revealed some details but nothing NDA-breaking that is going to get you too excited about Haswell.
ASRock have come out to tell us that their Z87 Extreme 9/ac motherboard is going to boast integrated Thunderbolt ports. They also claim the Z87 Extreme 9/ac is the first Intel 8 Series chipset (The chipset series for the Haswell launch) to pass Intel Thunderbolt certification.
ASRock stated that it is coming soon but we all know that now because Haswell is being launched in about a months time at Computex 2013. You can read the rest of ASRock’s PR Release below. What are your thoughts on the Z87 Extreme 9/ac coming with Thunderbolt? Are you hoping for separate with and without Thunderbolt models to keep costs down? Or will you gladly pay more to have it?
“If you’ve been following news of computing technologies, you’ve probably already noticed the presence of Thunderbolt technology. Now the maestros of motherboard manufacturing, ASRock is the world’s first to add more of these wonderful Thunderbolt ports to the upcoming Intel 8 Series motherboards! What’s more, the company’s top-of-the-line Z87 Extreme9/ac motherboard is the world’s first Intel 8 Series motherboard to pass the Intel Thunderbolt certification.
These Thunderbolt ports will come on ASRock’s Z87 Extreme9/ac, which are allegedly arriving to the market very soon, along with dozens of other exciting new features, such as ASRock’s A-Style. So, if you’re looking forward to build a solid next gen desktop rig with insanely fast data transfer abilities and innovative new software or hardware features, keep your eyes open for this bad boy.”
Intel introduced their next generation thunderbolt interface during NAB show 2013 in Las Vegas and the chipset maker assures that this will provide a data rate throughput to 20 Gbps download and upload. The previous generation thunderbolt can only allow 10 Gbps. What should be more interesting is that the next- gen thunderbolt with the code-name “Falcon Ridge” will allow 4K Video file transfer and display at the same time with the data running at 20 Gbps. This however will be released next year. There’s no specific launch date or a timeframe, but one could speculate that this will make its debut with Broadwell architecture.
Currently, Intel’s that it has given about 200 licenses and have many thunderbolt-compatible devices in the marketing, followed by new and thinner cables which is said to release in few month’s time. It was then Intel showed off their Thunderbolt host controller, code- named “Redwood Ridge” and will be implemented on some Intel’s 4th generation Core series processors Haswell platform. Redwood Ridge is speculated to be a little cheaper as it uses an internal 1V voltage regulator. It will also be using appropriate features to work with Intel Haswell’s aggressive power management reductions.
The 2 controllers that were recently announced are DSL4510 and 4410 ‘Cactus Ridge’ controllers which will have support for DisplayPort 1.2 (therefore 4K) when connected to the Native DisplayPort displays, but will also help to improve power management and even helping to decrease the cost for implementing the hardware. The 2 models will be replacing Intel’s current thunderbolt chip, DSL3510 and DSL3310.
Intel assures that these will have backward compatibility with previous gen thunderbolt cables and devices. Intel also said that it will be increasing its Thunderbolt production in 2014.
With this implementation, many professionals will gladly welcome this as the extreme bandwidth throughput will allow them for 4K content distribution.