Intel Cactus Ridge for Thunderbolt Outlined at IDF

Posted by at 11:13 am on September 16, 2011

Intel in one of the side notes from its Developer Forum presentations has outlined the Thunderbolt controllers that will drive computers based on Ivy Bridge processors. Cactus Ridge will mostly be a refresh of the Light Ridge and Eagle Ridge chips used in current Macs. As such, the high-end Cactus Ridge chip will have four channels that each have a symmetric 10Gbps and two DisplayPort links, while the budget version will have just two of those channels and one DisplayPort link.

What’s different hasn’t been explained but may relate to cost and efficiency. Both will have an 0.47-inch by 0.47-inch chip package and thus won’t give an advantage in small systems. Current MacBook Air and Mac mini systems use Eagle Ridge where Light Ridge is reserved for the iMac and MacBook Pro.

A launch should be timed with Ivy Bridge itself, which may arrive in or near March. Cactus Ridge will be the first Thunderbolt chip for Windows PCs and may help with economies of scale for widespread Thunderbolt adoption. Apple started off first with the very high speed connection through its co-invention of the technology but has had the luxury of a narrow selection of systems to test with and a high-end design whose price masks the early adopter costs.

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