Posted: 08 Apr 2013 01:00 PM PDT
Last year we hinted that another Thunderbolt revision would happen this year, with a speed bump in 2014. It turns out that's exactly what's being announced at NAB this week. Intel took the opportunity to unveil its first 2013 Thunderbolt controllers as well as tease next year's Thunderbolt spec update. As a refresher, Cactus Ridge was the codename of the Thunderbolt controllers that accompanied Ivy Bridge systems. Haswell gets a new set of controllers: Redwood Ridge.
Intel is announcing two this week: the DSL4510 and DSL4410. These two are replacements for Intel's current DSL3510 and DSL3310, with 4/2 and 2/1 (channels/ports) respectively. There are no performance changes other than official support for DisplayPort 1.2 (and thus 4K displays). If you connect either of these parts to a Thunderbolt display you still only get DP 1.1a support. There's still a PCIe gen 2 x4 interface on the other end of these controllers.
The Redwood Ridge parts should be a little cheaper as they integrate a 1V voltage regulator that used to be external. The integration also reduces board area by a bit. Power consumption is also lower at idle compared to Cactus Ridge, and disconnected power consumption is significantly lower (1mW vs. 7mW for Cactus Ridge). Redwood Ridge includes the appropriate hooks for Haswell's upcoming aggressive platform power management reductions. Ultimately this is the real focus behind Redwood Ridge. With Haswell, all components on the platform need to be more power efficient - Intel's own silicon included.
Next year Intel will introduce Falcon Ridge, the first real performance upgrade to Thunderbolt. Intel is only mentioning an increase in performance to 20Gbps, which I can only assume refers to signaling speed per Thunderbolt lane. If that's correct we'd be looking at a doubling in peak theoretical bandwidth over Thunderbolt, perhaps finally making this interface useful for external GPUs. No word on a release timeframe for Falcon Ridge, but my guess is that we'll see it debut around Broadwell (14nm Haswell shrink). Given that Haswell is a late Q2/Q3 launch at best, I'd say end of 2014 is likely for Falcon Ridge.
Dropping power, BOM cost and increase performance in the future are all great, but Thunderbolt adoption on the PC remains embarassing at best. There's a lot of finger pointing between Intel and Microsoft on this, but none of it matters to the end user. Apple continues to be the only platform player that seems to get Thunderbolt and take it seriously. If Intel wants Redwood or Falcon Ridge to matter, it needs to make sure that we actually see real adoption of Thunderbolt in the PC space - with backwards compatibility guaranteed between those devices that have been shipping on the market for a couple of years now.
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 07:07 AM PDT
Iomega / LenovoEMC launched an updated version of the LifeLine OS for their NAS devices last week. The new release (v 4.0) will be compatible with the existing StorCenter ix and px series devices in the market. Some of the interesting features / updated capabilities being introducied in the new version include snapshots, SSD caching, VM host capability (a first in the SMB NAS market) and NFS v4.
The SSD caching (cache pools) feature automatically caches frequently accessed files on a pool of SSDs. RAID protection is also available for these cache pools. The new OS also brings Twonky Media Server v7 integrated for SOHO / home users. The most exciting feature is undoubtedly the IVX integrated virtualization technology which allows the px12 rackmount arrays to run multiple virtual machines (Linux or Windows) with their own private virtualized hardware. This feature is particularly helpful in situations where a lightweight Linux web server or a machine running non-intensive Windows services need to run in conjunction with a multi-bay high performance NAS.
One of the main issues with LenovoEMC's LifeLine OS is the fact that many of the features are available only in the px series and not the ix ones. This time around, LenovoEMC has helpfully provided us with a feature matrix that we have reproduced above.
The update will be made available later this week for existing StorCenter owners and pre-installed NAS devices will launch in May. Hit the source link for more information on the new features in the newest version of LifeLine OS.
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