Friday, January 13th 2012

AMD Lightning Bolt is USB 3.0 Over DisplayPort

AMD's competitive technology to Intel Thunderbolt, called "Lightning Bolt" (codename, marketing name may differ), surfaced at CES, where AMD was showing off its upcoming "Trinity" accelerated processing units. The technology was dissected by Anandtech, revealing exactly how AMD plans to achieve its goal of providing a much lower-cost alternative to Thunderbolt, over a similar-looking interface. While Thunderbolt is essentially PCI-Express x4 over DisplayPort, Lightning Bolt is the much more mature USB 3.0 SuperSpeed over DisplayPort. It is a single cable that combines a USB 3.0 with DisplayPort (display), and power (sourced directly from the PSU).

The part that makes it affordable is that AMD has already mastered GPU technologies that allow several displays connected to its GPUs using DisplayPort daisy-chaining; while USB 3.0 controllers are getting cheaper by the quarter. Connections of DisplayPort, USB 3.0 and power converge at a Lightning Bolt multiplex, from which the actual ports emerge. Lightning Bolt will stick to established mini-DisplayPort specifications.

AMD has a lot invested in the success of its next-generation mobile platform based on its "Trinity" accelerated processing unit, and has no plans to help Intel propagate Thunderbolt on its mobile platform. The "Trinity" APU combines next-generation "Piledriver" x86-64 computing modules with a powerful Radeon HD 7000 series embedded graphics core, which takes advantage of AMD's Graphics CoreNext architecture, supporting DirectX 11.1.Source: Anandtech
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39 Comments on AMD Lightning Bolt is USB 3.0 Over DisplayPort

#1
imitation
That's a really weird approach.. What advantage could it offer over just using the standard USB3 port? :shadedshu
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#2
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: imitation
That's a really weird approach.. What advantage could it offer over just using the standard USB3 port? :shadedshu
A single cable connecting several devices.
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#3
Delta6326
by: btarunr
A single cable connecting several devices.
How does one cable plug into multiple devices? :p J/K


Wow that is such a unique name how did they come up with it?
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#4
Trackr
by: btarunr
A single cable connecting several devices.
No, you're thinking of USB.
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#5
scazbala86
by: imitation
That's a really weird approach.. What advantage could it offer over just using the standard USB3 port? :shadedshu
How about a driving a low power OLED touchscreen with is single Lighting bolt cable for power and everything. :)
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#6
Jizzler
Yeah...? AMD, I hope you just hired a new PR department to make this look good. Otherwise, I'm failing to see the point at this time.

While the competing Thunderbolt also doesn't impress me, I think being based on PCIe would have advantages worth the cost such as device connection, slot expanders, and latency. This last item I need to research, get some hard numbers for comparison.
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#7
v12dock
by: Jizzler
Yeah...? AMD, I hope you just hired a new PR department to make this look good. Otherwise, I'm failing to see the point at this time.

While the competing Thunderbolt also doesn't impress me, I think being based on PCIe would have advantages worth the cost such as device connection, slot expanders, and latency. This last item I need to research, get some hard numbers for comparison.
AMD hired like a new everything :laugh:
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#8
Wrigleyvillain
PTFO or GTFO
Apple's original plastic Cinema Displays did something similar ten years ago with a single cable from display to tower carrying power, video and USB. They called it Apple Display Connector and it was nice (especially from my IT perspective) provided you had all compatible gear. Especially coming from gigantic CRTs plus secondary smaller flat panels and all the associated cabling and adapters (what a nightmare to set up and break down which I had to do often). The next iteration of the Cinema Displays moved on to standard DVI, however.
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#9
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
by: Trackr
No, you're thinking of USB.
No, I'm thinking of Thunderbolt.
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#10
hardcore_gamer
by: imitation
That's a really weird approach.. What advantage could it offer over just using the standard USB3 port? :shadedshu
It uses Display Port signalling (21.6 Gbit/s). Hence it is faster than USB 3.0.




by: Delta6326
How does one cable plug into multiple devices? :p J/K
Daisy chaining.;)
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#11
eidairaman1
by: Wrigleyvillain
Apple's original plastic Cinema Displays did something similar ten years ago with a single cable from display to tower carrying power, video and USB. They called it Apple Display Connector and it was nice (especially from my IT perspective) provided you had all compatible gear. Especially coming from gigantic CRTs plus secondary smaller flat panels and all the associated cabling and adapters (what a nightmare to set up and break down which I had to do often). The next iteration of the Cinema Displays moved on to standard DVI, however.
ya but whenever apple tries to do that its just to get patents for it and monopolize the tech, basically meaning only apple can make it... Just shows how popular Apple is to the computer community, which is very nill. I wont own an apple product. Its just like how USB is more popular than firewire
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#12
TheLostSwede
by: hardcore_gamer
It uses Display Port signalling. Hence it is faster than USB 3.0.
Daisy chaining.;)
Actually, it doesn't. If you read the story over at Anandtech you'll see that Lightning Bolt is actually slower, so this is utterly pointless if you're after something that offer fast data transfer speeds.
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#13
hardcore_gamer
by: TheLostSwede
Actually, it doesn't. If you read the story over at Anandtech you'll see that Lightning Bolt is actually slower, so this is utterly pointless if you're after something that offer fast data transfer speeds.
I don't get paid by Intel unlike Mr Shimpi. If you think that it is slower than USB 3.0, wait and see;).
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#14
Completely Bonkers
by: hardcore_gamer
Daisy chaining.;)
I hope your ;) means you're not serious. So, I am now to buy a keystick, a mouse, phone, and a camera that has a secondary "daisy chain" port? Methinksnot!

So, to avoid thunderbolt license fees (or less than a $) we now substitute those fees for USB3.0?

AMD is solving a problem that is already solved. Let it die, like HDDVD, minidisc and betamax.
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#15
hardcore_gamer
by: Completely Bonkers
I hope your ;) means you're not serious. So, I am now to buy a keystick, a mouse, phone, and a camera that has a secondary "daisy chain" port? Methinksnot!

So, to avoid thunderbolt license fees (or less than a $) we now substitute those fees for USB3.0?

AMD is solving a problem that is already solved. Let it die, like HDDVD, minidisc and betamax.
Think about several Daisy Chained drives in RAID. Does it make sense now ?
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#16
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Thunderbolt does everything with one standard including looking forward at fiber optic. This is three standards duct taped together. DisplayPort uses a different packet standard than USB and USB uses 5V where most monitors and the like would like at least 12V. From the sounds of it, they're talking two data packets and two power lines in one cable. That's not innovative; that's fumbling.

I think there is a market for power and data inside the same cable for monitors if only for power efficiency sake (computer PSUs are often far superior to those found in those little bricks LCD monitors use). I just can't see this as being the answer.
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#17
radrok
Also Thunderbolt is good because it delivers awesome speeds (20Gbps) and PCIe compatibility for external GPUs.
Isn't USB 3.0 max speed 5 Gbps? Daisy chaining devices would bottleneck you faster than Thunderbolt unless you attach multiple USB 3.0 controllers (I honestly don't know if this is possible)
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#19
radrok
Only Apple users for now :)
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#20
Damn_Smooth
by: Syborfical
So who here uses thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt? Hell, I don't even have anything that uses USB 3.0.
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#21
Assimilator
by: hardcore_gamer
I don't get paid by Intel unlike Mr Shimpi.
Of course we're all going to take your word that Anand is in Intel's pocket, since you're the one running one of the most trusted computer hardware websites that's been around for over a decade. OH WAIT.

by: hardcore_gamer
If you think that it is slower than USB 3.0, wait and see;).
All I see is AMD trying to steal some of Intel's thunder, as usual - by introducing something shitty and un-innovative, as usual. I'll start believing AMD hype when they start delivering non-sucky hardware that isn't graphics cards.
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#22
tigger
I'm the only one
No one but an apple user/product is ever gonna use thunderbolt, AS IF apple would let anyone else use it without paying huge fees/royalties.
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#23
radrok
I'm pretty sure they're going to introduce docking stations with additional features for Ultrabooks like the Apple Cinema Display with Thunderbolt that adds connectivity to the Macbook Air
I'm confident that this will make a nifty solution for who doesn't need a full blown desktop but can surely enjoy something similar when at home while keeping an ultra portable device like Ultrabooks :)
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#24
Assimilator
by: tigger
No one but an apple user/product is ever gonna use thunderbolt, AS IF apple would let anyone else use it without paying huge fees/royalties.
It would be nice if you and all the other people spreading this FUD would learn the real facts. To wit: Intel is the one who created the actual Thunderbolt specification and they own it and allow anyone to use it royalty-free. Apple originally registered the "Thunderbolt" trademark, but Intel now owns that mark.
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#25
ensabrenoir
So Amd plan is not to compete with intel.....but simply copy everything intel does........BRILLIANT
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