Thunderbolt is important not because it is fast but because it extends the PCI bus outside the computer chassis. The next iteration of the Mac Pro could be as tiny as the Mac Mini, as long as it has two or more Thunderbolt ports and an expansion chassis for video and I/O cards.
Apple is not in enterprise storage company to be sure, and news from WWDC dashes any hopes we had for ZFS and iSCSI support. USB 3.0 seems a foregone conclusion, but Apple seems intent on ignoring it as long as possible. Although I welcome the new storage features included in Lion, it is disappointing that these were left out.
That NAB Show is a hotspot of Thunderbolt interest should come as no surprise: The broadcast and media professionals present represent a nexus of Apple customers and storage power users. Because they have been dragging their feet on eSATA and USB 3, Apple ran the risk of alienating this core customer group. But Thunderbolt promises to deliver a new level of performance and a whole world of peripherals. The excitement was palpable!
Although the SANLink appears to be something of an oddball, it indicates the shape of things to come. Thunderbolt will transform the use cases for portable and all-in-one computers, likely spelling the end of the empty boxes for desktop use. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if Apple soon canceled the Mac Pro line entirely in favor of a beefed up Mac Mini and iMac stable. And the dozen or so MacBook Pro users wanting to connect to a Fibre Channel SAN will finally have the opportunity to do so sometime later this year.
When Apple announced the new MacBook Pro at the end of February, there were just two Thunderbolt peripherals featured: The LaCie Little Big Disk and the Promise Pegasus. Both of these storage devices were on display at the NAB Show in Las Vegas last week, and each appeals to a different market segment. The 2-drive Little Big Disk is a portable matched up with the MacBook Pro, while the Promise Pegasus is a 4- or 6-drive desktop RAID system. Promise expects to deliver the Pegasus to the market sometime after the summer.
LaCie looks to be the first out of the gate with a Thunderbolt storage system. They promise to deliver their Little Big Disk portable RAID storage device sometime this summer, and the polished look of the devices on display at the NAB show suggests that they will meet this target.
Apple and Intel introduced the impressive new Thunderbolt interconnect last month on the MacBook Pro line, but folks like me who bought one have nothing to connect to yet. It was exciting to see the wide variety of Thunderbolt peripherals on display at the NAB show in Las Vegas last week, but none of these will ship to end-users before the middle of the summer. But evidence is mounting that Apple will be the first out of the gate with a Thunderbolt peripheral, it just won’t be the sort of peripheral you might expect. I am hearing rumors that the new iMac, to be introduced this month, will be both a Thunderbolt host and peripheral in one! Read on for what this means in the real world.
This regular series features highlights from the week. My writing:
How Will Thunderbolt Affect Enterprise Storage?
Introducing Storage for Virtual Environments (From My Seminar)
So there it is. Intel’s Light Peak was launched as Thunderbolt in the new Apple MacBook Pro line. What else happened?
Today is the big “coming out” day for Thunderbolt (nee Light Peak), courtesy of Intel and Apple’s new lineup of MacBook Pros. Next week is the introduction of another “Magical and Revolutionary” Apple product, the iPad 2. Inevitably, pundits are putting 2 and 2 together and deducing that the future iPad will include this new I/O port. But this makes little sense. The iPad 2 won’t include Thunderbolt.