Wednesday, January 4th 2017

Intel Announces JHL7x40 Series "Titan Ridge" Thunderbolt 3 Controllers

Today Intel is announcing the Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller JHL7x40 series, code named Titan Ridge. Comprised of three controllers, the JHL7x40 series is a compatible extension of the current line of Intel JHL6x40 Thunderbolt 3 controllers, code named Alpine Ridge. The JHL7540 and 7340 controllers provide computer makers the same Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s performance and feature set as Alpine Ridge, and also adds DisplayPort 1.4 capability for increased video performance.

The JHL7440 controller was specifically designed for Thunderbolt 3 monitor and enterprise dock makers who choose to offer basic compatibility when a Thunderbolt 3 monitor or dock is connected to a USB-C computer port. To accomplish this, the JHL7440 controller integrates USB-C computer port compatibility so a Thunderbolt 3 monitor or dock can intelligently provide more performance and features when connected to a Thunderbolt 3 computer port, and basic compatibility when the Thunderbolt 3 monitor or dock is connected to a USB-C computer port. Additionally, as with the other controllers in the JHL7x40 series, the JHL7440 supports DisplayPort 1.4.
The Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller JHL7x40 series is backward compatible with earlier Thunderbolt computers, cables, and peripherals. Intel is working with the industry to bring JHL7540, JHL7340, and JHL7440 controller based products to market in 2018.

JHL7540 and JHL7340 features for computer makers
  • 40Gb/s and PCIe Gen 3 (same as JHL6x40 series)
  • Support for DisplayPort 1.4
JHL7440 features for peripheral device makers
  • 40Gb/s and PCIe Gen 3 (same as JHL6x40 series)
  • Support for DisplayPort 1.4
  • USB-C computer port compatibility (optional)
Revolutionary Single-Cable Monitors
Starting in 2018 a number of leading monitor makers will offer business professionals, gamers, and consumers Thunderbolt 3 monitors based on the JHL7440 controller.

By connecting a monitor and notebook with one Thunderbolt 3 cable, business professionals can increase productivity without extensive cabling. They may charge their notebook directly from the monitor, eliminating the need for an additional power supply. Since Thunderbolt 3 video bandwidth is up to four times more than HDMI, professionals can better visualize complex information and lessen eye strain by selecting monitors with the highest resolution and refresh rate. Also, users can daisy chain an additional 4K monitor - allowing easy set-up of two monitors. For data intensive environments, users will experience industry leading performance - at 40Gb/s, Thunderbolt 3 monitors offer data rates up to 8x faster than USB 3.0 for connecting the latest Thunderbolt 3 and USB devices.

For gamers who demand a highly immersive experience - Thunderbolt 3 monitors can offer the performance and features that transport gamers to another world. Gamers can connect one or daisy chain two Thunderbolt 3 monitors with 2560 x 1440 resolution at a 144Hz refresh rate, while simultaneously transferring massive game libraries between a notebook and game drive at up to 40Gb/s. Desktop gamers will appreciate comfortably connecting the latest Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 peripherals to the monitor on the desk, rather than reaching down to the desktop PC on the floor.

Similar to business users and gamers, consumers can enjoy the simplicity of connecting their notebook and monitor with one Thunderbolt 3 cable for notebook charging, amazing picture quality, and basic connectivity to Thunderbolt and USB devices. A Thunderbolt 3 monitor offers users a simple way to connect fast SSDs to expand the storage capacity of a capacity limited notebook - or capture, edit, and share 4K video on YouTube with ease.

Thunderbolt 3 monitor makers may benefit by offering additional USB-C computer port compatibility. A monitor could offer the highest resolution and refresh rate possible, while simultaneously offering the most data bandwidth possible when the Thunderbolt 3 monitor is connected to a Thunderbolt 3 computer port. However, when the Thunderbolt 3 monitor is connected to a USB-C computer port the Thunderbolt 3 monitor can offer basic compatibility depending on the video, data, and power capabilities offered by the USB-C computer port.

Enterprise Docks
Thunderbolt 3 docks are widely available in the market, offering single-cable connectivity to large high-resolution monitors or multiple monitors, while simultaneously transferring large files and charging a notebook. Thunderbolt 3 docks will continue to provide the full Thunderbolt 3 experience - including the ability to connect Thunderbolt devices, every display, and the latest USB devices when the dock is connected to a Thunderbolt 3 computer port.

However, for corporate dock deployments there may be opportunities to increase productivity, reduce costs, and future proof investments by deploying a Thunderbolt 3 dock based on the JHL7440 controller that can offer the best performance when the dock is connected to a Thunderbolt 3 computer port, and basic compatibility when the dock is connected to a USB-C computer port.

Enterprise dock makers can deploy a single Thunderbolt 3 dock for thousands of employees to streamline hardware installations and accelerate the speed of IT delivery. Mixed PC environments can be challenging for IT departments and a Thunderbolt 3 dock that offers USB-C computer port compatibility would be able to scale performance and features depending on the video, data, and power capabilities offered by the USB-C computer port.

Shared office environments continue to become more common. Both large enterprise and start-up entrepreneurs realize office space can be a large overhead expense. Mobile employees could go into any shared office area or conference room with a JHL7440-based Thunderbolt 3 dock, and gain access to a larger monitor, faster Ethernet connectivity, and keyboard/mouse regardless of the laptop they have.
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2 Comments on Intel Announces JHL7x40 Series "Titan Ridge" Thunderbolt 3 Controllers

#1
notb
So the interesting part is: lets assume Thunderbolt 3 monitors become a widely spread standard (which doesn't seem as unlikely as it did a year ago).
What will GPU manufacturers do? Because I just can't see manufacturers putting Thunderbolt controllers on GPUs...
Will it finally be possible to output the GPU signal via USB on the mobo? Honestly, since we're getting rid of analogue signal anyway, I kind of expected this to be possible already in 2017...

Imagine how much would it affect case design (and cooling efficiency) if we didn't have to put the GPU in the same place we did for the past 30 years.
Back then really no one expected them to pull 300W and be almost the size of a keyboard. Not to mention using a few such monsters.
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#2
Valantar
notb said:
So the interesting part is: lets assume Thunderbolt 3 monitors become a widely spread standard (which doesn't seem as unlikely as it did a year ago).
What will GPU manufacturers do? Because I just can't see manufacturers putting Thunderbolt controllers on GPUs...
Will it finally be possible to output the GPU signal via USB on the mobo? Honestly, since we're getting rid of analogue signal anyway, I kind of expected this to be possible already in 2017...

Imagine how much would it affect case design (and cooling efficiency) if we didn't have to put the GPU in the same place we did for the past 30 years.
Back then really no one expected them to pull 300W and be almost the size of a keyboard. Not to mention using a few such monsters.
Technically, this is entirely possible with today's hardware. eGPUs already do this, after all, with bog-standard dGPUs and the TB3 controller acting as a PCIe link. The issue with eGPUs is that passing the display signal back across the TB3 cable creates a bottleneck (due to the limited bandwidth of the TB3 connector). Inside a PC, with a PCIe 3.0 x16 connection, this should not be an issue - after all, the performance difference between running a GPU at x16 and x8 is negligible if measurable at all, so there's plenty of bandwidth to go around.

AFAIK TB3-enabled laptops don't have the controller linked to the display assembly in any way, so it stands to reason that a firmware or driver switch would make this possible. I assume this would add some latency and timing issues, though, but nothing that isn't already there with current eGPU implementations. I believe eGPU solutions drawing to the internal laptop display does utilize parts of the iGPU to some extent (to actually process the signal received over PCIe and draw to the display), so that capability would need to be available internally or in the display as well for this to work.

We've seen a single GPU with USB-C so far, IIRC (though I believe that was some "DP alt mode only" shenanigans, with no actual USB involved), but I've been expecting them for quite a while. Again, there's plenty of bandwidth in the x16 connection to run a USB controller off too, so it's only a matter of integrating it into the GPU design (so that it doesn't require an expensive PCIe switch).


The thing is, though, that this wouldn't affect case design. Why? Because case design is determined by motherboard standards, and agreeing to a new motherboard standard (that isn't just a compatible shrink/variant of an existing one) is pretty much impossible for the PC industry. Besides, PCIe riser cables have already done this, and would be necessary no matter what (unless you want some sort of 90-degree angled or otherwise impractical motherboard form factor) to properly remove the GPU from the CPU for better cooling. On the flip side, the main use of PCIe riser cables today is to stick the GPU directly behind a pane of glass to choke off air flow as much as possible. So there's that too. Aesthetics seem to trump thermal design in current PC building trends. Don't see that going away any time soon.
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