PCI Express Stories November 30, 2015

Intel Presentation Template Overview

Apple’s decision to equip the 12-inch MacBook with just a single port was a controversial one, but the USB-C port Apple chose just got a whole lot more powerful. Intel announced back in June that it was integrating USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 to create “one compact port that does it all” – and that port just hit the market in the form of the revamped Dell XPS range.

That means that a single port combines superspeed USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, PCI Express and power. The DisplayPort channel can simultaneously handle two 4K monitors.

Dell has opted to include two of the new ports, and this is an approach I think we can expect Apple to take with the new MacBook Air models (whatever they are actually called) and, in time, the MacBook Pro …  expand full story

PCI Express Stories June 2, 2015

usb-c-thunderbolt-3

The USB-C port first introduced by Apple in the new 12-inch MacBook looks likely to be used across the MacBook range as Intel has adopted the standard for Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt was developed to simultaneously support the fastest data and most video bandwidth available on a single cable, while also supplying power. Then recently the USB group introduced the USB-C connector, which is small, reversible, fast, supplies power, and allows other I/O in addition to USB to run on it, maximizing its potential. So in the biggest advancement since its inception, Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at 40Gbps, fulfilling its promise, creating one compact port that does it all. 

Apple was an early adopter of the Thunderbolt standard, which allowed a single port to be used for both high-speed data transfer and DisplayPort monitor connections. Intel’s integration of the two standards would allow Apple to replace the Thunderbolt port in the MacBook Pro range while still maintaining full compatibility with existing peripherals …  expand full story

PCI Express Stories November 4, 2013

4chan

Update: It appears this may be a function of the 1TB drives fitted to both 13- and 15-inch models. The reason for this isn’t yet clear: it may be the drives used offer greater bandwidth.

Benchmark tests by French site Mac4Ever show that the latest MacBook Pro 15 is delivering SSD read and write speeds in excess of 1GB per second. The site repeatedly achieved these speeds when Apple claims only “up to 775MB per second.”

The MBP 15 is able to achieve these speeds because it has a 4-channel PCIe connection to the SSD, in contrast to the 2-channel link on the MBP 13 and MacBook Air models, though from some reader reports this may be the case only on models fitted with 1TB drives …

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PCI Express Stories October 26, 2013

Macbook-pro-benchmarks-graphics

Macworld’s benchmarks

…less expensive, better battery life too

Apple’s relentless improvement iterations continue unabated. Macworld’s early benchmarks on Apple’s new base model 13″MacBook Pro with built in Intel Iris Graphics are in and show huge speed gains in graphics performance:

The most impressive improvements in the new laptops came courtesy of the new Iris graphics. Compared to the HD 4000 graphics in the early 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the Iris graphics posted between 45 and 50 percent higher frame rates in Cinebench r15’s OpenGL tests and the Unigine Valley Benchmark. Unigen’s Heaven benchmark showed the new systems with about 65 percent improvement in frame rates over the earlier model.

Iris Graphics also support displays up to 4K at 24Hz, a first for Apple’s entry level Pro laptops.

CPU performance improvement is slight but the Intel Haswell architecture adds a few hours of (Apple’s estimated) battery life while the machine actually got thinner and lighter. Meanwhile, Apple loaded up faster 802.11ac Wifi and speedy Samsung PCIe SSDs up to 1TB and Thunderbolt 2.0.

Price? Dropped $100  to $1299. (we are already seeing discounts/tax advantages in our Products section). expand full story

PCI Express Stories October 25, 2013

13-inch

MacBook Pro 13

Teardowns of the new  13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models reveal lots of shiny technology, but with the machines following the construction lead of the MacBook Air, it’s no surprise to see IFixIt giving both models low scores for repairability. The extreme difficulty in removing both battery and trackpad mean both models get even worse scores than the Air, at just 1 out of 10.

As with the Air, RAM is soldered directly to the logic board, so if you think you may need more in the future, take a deep breath and pay Apple’s price for the 16GB upgrade as there is no way to upgrade it later. IFixIt also draws particular attention to the difficulty of replacing the battery,

The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it’ll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that the user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.

More details and photos below the fold …  expand full story

PCI Express Stories September 30, 2013

thunderbolt

I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  expand full story

PCI Express Stories September 25, 2013

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iFixit has taken a look at the newly-released generation iMacs, tearing down both the 21.5 inch and 27.5 inch variants. Although most of the internal structure is the same, which is to be expected given that the new iMacs have retained the same casing, there are some small differences.

iFixit points out that the 21.5 inch iMac now includes a Fusion Drive SSD bay as standard, improving future upgradeability prospects of the machine. With last year’s model, this expandability was only available if customers had specifically ordered the iMac with a Fusion Drive originally. As the new drives are now connected via PCIe, third-party drive makers should be able to make appropriate adapters to enable the addition of a second hard drive. Both the 21.5 inch and 27 inch models offer this unused PCIe Fusion Drive SSD port. A picture of the empty port is attached below.

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PCI Express Stories December 11, 2012

mLogic’s mLink Thunderbolt PCI Card expansion chassis now available for $399

You can now put a video card “in” your MacBook Air!

Back in September mLogic announced a new Thunderbolt peripheral, the mLink Thunderbolt expansion chassis for connecting PCIe cards, Fibre Channel and audio/video capture cards, 10GigE and more to Thunderbolt-equippred Macs. Today, mLogic announced that the $399 Thunderbolt mLink is finally in stock and available for immediate shipment from its website. There are a few competitors on the market, but mLogic is calling the mLink the lightest and smallest Thunderbolt expansion chassis at 2lbs and 8.1 x 2.75 x 5.9”. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Supports half-length, Thunderbolt-aware PCIe cards
  • Two high-performance 10Gbit/second Thunderbolt ports
  • Supports daisy-chaining of up to six Thunderbolt peripherals
  • Industry’s smallest (8.1 x 2.75 x 5.9”) and lightest (2lbs) Thunderbolt expansion chassis
  • Whisper quiet smart-blower for optimal cooling
  • Conserves energy by turning On/Off with the Mac

You can currently pick them up at B&H for $399 with tax in New York.

PCI Express Stories July 26, 2012

OWC launches Mercury Helios PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis

OWC is launching a new PCIe Thunderbolt expansion chassis today that provides the ability to take advantage of any professional level performance PCIe adapters (half-length PCIe 2.0 card up to 6.5″) on Thunderbolt Macs:

Mercury Helios is fast and flexible with throughput up to 10Gb/s, and is the perfect solution to massively boost workflow productivity. It’s bootable with AHCI compliant cards and can daisy-chain up to six devices. Types of PCIe cards Helios can use include: Fibre Channel • 10Gb Ethernet • RAID controller • Video capture • Digital audio • Solid State Drive • SAS controllers such as the OWC Jupiter • and FireWire, USB 3.0, eSATA host adapter cards.

The Mercury Helios PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis is available now for $399.95, and it is shipping from OWC in “7-10 days.” A full list of features and specs from OWC is below:

Features and Specifications

  • Use any half-length, single width, full height x1, x4 or x8 Thunderbolt compliant and AHCI compliant PCIe card
  • Expansion slots: One PCIe 2.0 x8 (x4 mode)
  • Connection interfaces: Two Thunderbolt ports
  • Daisy-chain up to six devices
  • Bootable with AHCI compliant cards
  • External case dimensions: 5.7 in (W) x 8.8 in (D) x 2.9 in (H)
  • Weighs 2.4 lbs (without card)
  • Ventilated quiet cooling with a variable speed fan
  • Automatically powers on/off with computer
  • Warranty: 3-year
  • Compatible with any computer that can support Thunderbolt technology

PCI Express Stories February 14, 2012

Giving a talk at Gerson Lehrman Group’s G+ community, the former EVP & FM of Mobile Platforms at Broadcom Scott Bibaud offered the above explanation about the benefits 802.11ac would bring to all devices. We have discussed Gigabit Wi-Fi before, but we did not really get a handle on when the new Wi-Fi standard would be hitting technology we now use. Apple is usually an early adopter of such technologies, but it is not likely—as you can hear above— that Apple’s next round of products will include this feature. Just think Airports and Macs at the end of this year, and iPad 4 /iPhone 6.

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PCI Express Stories February 13, 2012

From 9to5Toys.com:

Today only, Amazon offers the OCZ 90GB Agility 3 2.5″ Serial ATA 6Gb/s Internal SSD, model no. AGT3-25SAT3-90G, for $99.99 with free shipping. That’s the lowest total price we could find by $30. This Sandforce-controlled drive advertises 500MB/s+ read write times when connected to a SATA3 controller.

While OCZ’s drives are certainly fast, we’ve had a better experience with Samsung’s 830 series SATA3 SSDs which should soon be entering production on Apple’s MacBook Air/Pros.  The 128GB is listed at $199 while the 64GB variety is $109.

Update: previously mentioned rebate had expired last week.

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PCI Express Stories January 17, 2012

The easiest way to upgrade your Mac Pro’s everyday performance is to replace its slow internal hard drive units with pricier and much speedier solid-state storage (SSD), as it typically provides many times faster access times compared to HDDs and way greater sustained transfer rates. The problem is, you can only put flash storage inside the Pro’s hard drive bays that connect to the SATA interface.

Unfortunately, your super-fast SSD is limited to transfer rates of the Mac Pro’s SATA controller.

Enter OWC’s upcoming PCI Express-based SSD solution for Mac Pros, due for release “in the very near future.” Why does it matter? Well, for starters, it is a dream come true for the Hackintosh community. However, there is more to it than meets the eye…

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PCI Express Stories September 7, 2011

Usually, when a brand new industry standard debuts on Macs, there’s a period of shortage before compatible devices begin trickling in. Thunderbolt is no different. Intel partnered with Apple on Thunderbolt earlier this year and it took Apple several months to update its notebooks, iMac and Mac mini families with Thunderbolt I/O. The offering of supported peripherals was initially limited to Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable, LaCie and Promise RAIDs, Matrox gearBlackMagic’s solution for field video editing and a couple other devices.

Following Intel’s release of the Thunderbolt development kit, more companies are announcing Thunderbolt-ready products. By the way, 9to5Mac, MacRumors and other publications received tips that Apple began shipping its new $999 Apple Thunderbolt Display to stores. Now, among the upcoming Thunderbolt gadgets, Magma’s ExpressBox 3T, seen in the above image, caught our attention. Basically a three-slot expansion chassis allowing any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to connect to PCIe 2.0 cards, the box also lets you power up your MacBook Air’s integrate Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with any PCIe graphics cards, useful if you’re going to do some serious video-related work or play latest games on your Air. The accessory is to be demoed at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum which runs September 13 – 15 in San Francisco.

Magma joins Sonnet, which also unveiled a similar Thunderbolt box last month. The $150 Sonnet ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt adapter accepts ExpressCard peripherals and also expands your Air’s connectivity with eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and SDXC and CF cards. More product highlights after the break…

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