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Intel Thunderbolt Support Under Linux

Linux Kernel

Published on 21 August 2011 05:43 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
3 Comments

Earlier this year Apple introduced Thunderbolt ports on their new systems while more hardware vendors will be offering these next-generation high-speed connections on their systems going forward, particularly when the Ivy Bridge hardware is rolled out. Thunderbolt, which was developed under the Light Peak codename, can transfer data at 20 Gbit/s and offers much potential, but how's the Linux support?

Right now Linux support for Thunderbolt technology isn't critical considering the lack of systems offering such ports and there not being many peripheral devices to actually take advantage of this technology compared to USB 3.0, eSATA, or Firewire. Fortunately, it's being worked on and should be properly supported by the time more systems begin offering these ports that are pinned out the same as mini DisplayPort. Bringing up the support isn't a huge feat considering Thunderbolt is effectively just pairing together PCI Express and DisplayPort, both standards already supported in Linux. Thunderbolt will make its way to motherboards, graphics cards, and add-on cards.

Intel developers from the LAN Access Division are working on the Linux support for Thunderbolt. In particular, "LAD will be supplying initial software for peer-to-peer use in Linux and other OSes. LAD will also be working on enablement code for Open Source OSes so that others will be able to use that code. LAD may also supply other use case but initially only peer-to-peer will be done." This comes from a presentation to be made next month at the 2011 Linux Plumbers conference.

Look for more information to be reported on Intel Thunderbolt / Light Peak Linux support during this conference taking place from the 7th to 9th of September in Santa Clara, California.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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