Thunderbolt, Intel’s USB alternative, never made sense

The most universal port for peripherals is USB, not because of its name, but due to the fact that little by little it has evolved to leave many other ports by the wayside. In true “Resistance is useless, you will be assimilated” style.ยป the next port to disappear will be Thunderbolt from intel. The motives? Read and you will know.

One technology is meaningless without a purpose, when another is more convenient and serves the same purpose, it simply disappears. Thunderbolt goes down that road with no brakes. The worst thing is that when we stop seeing peripherals compatible with this interface, no one will mourn its loss. Why do we say it? There are fewer and fewer computers that include it as standard and USB-C is more than enough today.

Deep down, Thunderbolt is nothing more than a hack

In reality, if we are strict, the Thunderbolt standard does not exist and has never existed, it is a vulgar hack created by Intel to create a proprietary port in confrontation with USB and that has only served to complicate things even more for the end user in all this time. If we add to this that in the latest versions it uses the same head as USB-C, then we already have it tied up and with users more lost than the monolith apes from a certain Kubrick movie.

Why do we say that Thunderbolt is a false standard? It is not due to the fact that it is originally Intel’s proprietary technology that has never been licensed to third parties and, therefore, that it is not under a committee, nor is it due to the fact that it does not make sense today. today with the advances of the USB standard. If not for the fact that it is still an outsourcing of PCI Express.

In other words, USB has its own communication protocol that must be followed by all the peripherals that use it and that has evolved over time. Thunderbolt no, since it uses that of PCI Express. Technically, it is still as if we had a PCIe x1 socket, but placed in the form of an external port.

Your peripherals don’t need PCI Express

When it comes to managing peripherals, x86 processors do not dedicate pins for their addressing, but instead communication is carried out by writing in certain areas of RAM memory, which are reserved for special hardware functions. This is a serious security problem and that is why a peripheral memory management unit or IOMMU is needed to create a virtual memory environment for peripherals.

However, there is a protocol that allows, through a DMA unit, direct access to RAM without going through the IOMMU and this is PCI Express. The reason? Between classic PCI and today’s PCIe appeared AGP ports that gave the graphics card the ability to access system RAM if needed. Function that inherited the PCI Express, but that does not really need certain peripherals. The reason for doing it with graphics cards in its day was to reduce latency per frame and in case it ran short of video memory.

This is not the case with simple peripherals, which do not need the advantages of PCI Express to function correctly, since they far exceed their needs. Of course, Intel already had the job half done when it came to creating its bland and meaningless alternative to USB.

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