Intel announced yesterday the availability of its new Thunderbolt technology, a possibly revolutionary new high-speed data transfer connection for PCs. Thunderbolt combines high-speed data transfer and high-definition (HD) display capabilities into a single cable.
Intel claims Thunderbolt runs at a blistering 10 Gbps, and is capable of transferring a full-length HD movie in under 30 seconds. This is a huge speed increase compared to previous data transfer techniques, of which USB has been the most popular.
To strike a comparison, USB 2.0 has a peak transfer rate of 480 Mbps while USB 3.0 sports ten times that, with 4.8 Gbps. At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt far outstrips both these. The Intel-developed technology is initially entering the market through a technical collaboration with Apple, appearing for the first time in new Apple MacBook Pro notebook computers, and hopefully spreading to other devices soon.
Thunderbolt (previously codenamed “Light Peak”), was created with the aim of simplifying connections (less cables = less confusion), and move the large new media files we deal with today. The key to the technology is combining data transfer and HDMI capabilities into one cable.
The technology delivers this via two protocols, PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort, able to drive greater than 1080p resolution and eight audio channels, for display purposes. Thunderbolt technology devices all share a common connector, and allows users to daisy-chain their devices together.
“Working with HD media is one of the most demanding things people do with their PCs,” said Mooly Eden, general manager PC Client Group, Intel. “With Thunderbolt technology, Intel has delivered innovative technology to help professionals and consumers work faster and more easily with their growing collection of media content, from music to HD movies. We've taken the vision of simple, fast transfer of content between PCs and devices, and made it a reality.”
Thunderbolt technology is powered via an Intel controller chip and uses a small connector suitable for mobile devices. Several companies have already announced Thunderbolt technology-based products in the pipeline, including Apogee, Avid, LaCie and Western Digital.
Intel is also working on a range of Thunderbolt-based products, including computers, displays, storage devices, audio/video devices, cameras, docking stations and more.
We personally can't wait to get our hands on a Thunderbolt equipped device to see just how much quicker the technology really is. If all Intel's promises ring true, it should usher in an entirely new way of dealing with high-definition media.