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.