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How Intel's Thunderbolt Technology Will Change Your Life

Feb 24 2011, 10:45am CST | by , in News | Technology News

How Intel's Thunderbolt Technology Will Change Your Life
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Daisychain up to 7 devices thanks to Intel's new super-port.

The new Macbook Pros are here. And boy howdy are they gorgeous. But the most exciting thing about them may be the presence of Intel's new Thunderbolt technology. This super-port is capable of transferring data at an incredible 10 Gbps. It can act as a PCI Express port or a DisplayPort, and can deliver an astonishing 10 watts of power.

So what does Thunderbolt mean for you? As Intel notes on their official site, you'll be able to transfer a full-length HD movie in a mere 30 seconds. Or backup a year of continuous MP3 playback in roughly ten minutes.

Speed isn't all Thunderbolt brings to the table though. It is a dual-protocol I/O technology that supports a variety of HD display solutions, including HDMI, from the same port. You'll be able to daisychain multiple devices off of one port, which will make multiple-monitor and media-box set-ups easier than ever. These cables are bidirectional and every Thunderbolt device uses the same connector.

If your phone has a Thunderbolt port, you'll be able to draw power from your (Thunderbolt enabled) TV at the same time as you deliver full 1080p HD video. If you have ONE Thunderbolt port on your computer, you'll be able to daisy-chain up to SEVEN devices to it. Two of those can be DisplayPort displays. You'll be able to use your Thunderbolt port as a FireWire or PCI express port with the addition of a simple adapter.

Thunderbolt is not a bus-based i/O solution. Each port on its own can deliver a full 10 Gbps of bandwidth in both directions. The connector required is quite small, which allows for thinner and lighter laptops and mobile devices. Thunderbolt's switching architecture also draws very little power.

Intel's new technology certainly seems ground-breaking, and the fact that Apple has bought in so wholly speaks well for its future. Western Digital, Avid Technology, Apogee and Universal Audio have all thrown their support behind Thunderbolt. Consider me sold on the idea, too.

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