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The 8-speed hub is very similar to the Nexus 8-speed, except that Alfine hubs have a Center Lock fitting for a drum-brake rotor, rather than Rollerbrake splines or a coaster brake. The jewel in Shimano's crown, the flagship road racing group.
High end groups often include additional parts, including: headsets, seatposts, pedals, chains, cassettes.This was Shimano's first attempt at indexed shifting.The indexing "clicks" were built into the derailer, not the lever.This was rather a good idea biomechanically, but never caught on.In practice, the pedal bearings turned out to be underengineered for the loadings they had to deal with. A MTB derailer, cassette and shifter combination introduced in the 2011 model year.
When it became an 8-speed group, the 600 designation still existed, but it was usually referred to as just "Ultegra".