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Thunderbolt - I Can Do What?

Posted by James McKenna on 7/10/14 12:33 PM

The popularity of all-in-one and mini workstations have been forcing a conversion in many facility infrastructures. If you haven’t found sufficient reason to shrink the legacy fibre channel footprint in your facility, these non-expandable workstations may push you toward that decision. 1Gb is fine, right? Most HD video formats you’re getting in are of the 35Mb to 50Mb variety, plenty of head room in 1Gb for multi-stream work. What about the 4K+ raw formats? Well, that is a challenge but you can always proxy those down to something more manageable. Uncompressed QuickTime’s from your animation department? Ah, no. Re-render those compressed please. DPX files? Okay, things that seem simple really don’t hold up when you consider the changing world of post, and the requirement for a facility to maintain flexibility when managing various sources and deliverables. Now hold on, before you go out there and scoop up all the silver Mac Pros on EBay, you can still have your iMac and Mac Mini, even your MacBook Pro AND perform at the level required for any common format.

Thunderbolt has been around for a few years, but it wasn’t until the shiny new Macs that it really started getting attention as a high performance data delivery protocol. Most of the recent iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Minis in the field are Thunderbolt 1. I’ve found that Thunderbolt 1 in practice is good for up to 800MB/sec, but will vary greatly based on adapter and test method. This is plenty to get you into the raw 4K+ formats with ease, and even up into the 3D 2K DPX range. The shiny new Mac Pro systems use Thunderbolt 2. With similar variability, Thunderbolt 2 will get you into the 1400MB/sec range. Now you’re in full frame 4K DPX territory.

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Topics: Fibre Channel, 4K DPX, Thunderbolt, 3D, 2K DPX