In April, we learned all about Intel's next-generation Thunderbolt controller, dubbed Falcon Ridge. This controller combines the dual 10Gbps channels of existing Thunderbolt implementations into a single, 20Gbps channel, and it adds DisplayPort 1.2 support. It's supposed to be quick enough to transfer and display 4K video at the same time.
Now, Intel says it has chosen a new, more marketable name for Cactus Ridge and the next-gen Thunderbolt standard: Thunderbolt 2. The technology will retain backward compatibility with the current version of the standard, but I guess Intel was eager to demarcate the new, faster implementation. Given the relatively low popularity of Thunderbolt compared to other I/O standards, that probably can't hurt.
In addition to branding the next-gen standard, Intel also teases some of the practical applications users can look forward to.:
Professionals and enthusiasts alike will be able to create, edit, and view live 4K video streams delivered from a computer to a monitor over a single cable, while backing up the same file on an external drive, or series of drives, simultaneously along the same device daisy-chain. Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours. And finally, since Thunderbolt 2 is backwards compatible, original investments in cables and connectors continue to pay off while supporting dramatically improved performance.
Intel tells us that we'll see Thunderbolt 2 products by the end of this year, with production ramping further in 2014.