Its first inclusion in a computer is in Apple’s MacBook Pro line, which refreshed earlier today with Thunderbolt ports across the line (see CNET’s hands-on here). Intel followed up a few hours later with a press conference about the technology, as well as its plans to bring it to computers and devices over the next year or so.
To help readers better understand what the technology is and why it matters, CNET has put together this FAQ.
What is Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt is Intel’s new input/output technology that promises to bring transfer speeds that exceed what is currently available with USB 3.0, as well as extending that speed across several devices at once. In terms of where you’ll see it, Thunderbolt will appear as a new port on laptops and PCs, as well as on devices that support it.
Taken from the CNET article:
Intel’s Thunderbolt: What you need to know (FAQ) | Cutting Edge – CNET News
Intel Promo with more pictures, and PR from potential OEMs: Thunderbolt™ Technology
The technology itself makes use of existing DisplayPort and PCI-Express data protocols to open up what you can do with a single port into multiple uses and at high speeds. This includes “daisy chaining” up to seven Thunderbolt-equipped devices together, while retaining full speed across all of them at once.
How fast is it?
Thunderbolt currently runs with a top speed of 10Gbps. Since there are two wire pairs, and the system is bidirectional, a single cable can have up to 40Gbps coursing through it at its maximum theoretical capacity (20Gbps upstream and 20Gbps downstream). Intel says that those speeds will one day top 100Gbps in data throughput when it moves from a copper wire to optical fiber. In the interim, copper wire has both speed and cable length limits, keeping cable length at 3 meters or less. The data transfer is also bidirectional, meaning it can both transmit and receive data at the same time, and at its top speed.
During Intel’s press conference about the technology this morning, the company demonstrated it working on a MacBook Pro, pulling four raw, uncompressed 1080p video streams through a Thunderbolt storage array, and feeding into a Thunderbolt-attached display, all the while topping more than 600MBps in its transfer speeds. An earlier test of just file transferring had gotten it up to 800MBps.
To put this in perspective of what’s been available up to this point, that’s twice as fast as the theoretical limit of USB 3.0, 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and 12 times faster than FireWire 800.
Here’s a demo from this morning’s Intel press conference that gives you an idea of what it’s capable of in a video editing and viewing work flow, as well as a file transfer:
When can I get it?
The long and the short of it is that you can get Thunderbolt today, so long as you buy Apple’s MacBook Pro, which is the first laptop to ship with a Thunderbolt port as a standard port across its entire line.
Following this is a good video and pictures. Read the rest of the article: Intel’s Thunderbolt: What you need to know (FAQ) | Cutting Edge – CNET News