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Thunderbolt: High Speed I/O Data Transfer Technology

Question asked by Kaustubh Katdare in #Coffee Room on Feb 24, 2011
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare · Feb 24, 2011
Rank A1 - PRO
Thunderbolt is a brand new i/o technology jointly developed Apple & Intel that makes debut in latest MacBook Pro laptops. Thunderbolt promises 10 GB/sec transfer rates (dual-channel). It supports high-resolution displays and high performance data devices via single port.  Thunderbolt was initially called 'Light Peak' but that name is no more existent. Intel promises that this technology is the fastest i/o any modern computer device can get. Intel also mentions on their page that with 10 GB/s speed, you can transfer full length HD movie to your computer in less than 30 seconds and 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just around 10 minutes. Both Intel & Apple have history of inventing high performance i/o technologies. It was Intel that developed USB & PCI express while Apple invented the FireWire technology and helped in making the USBs popular.
Thunderbolt technology is built on DisplayPort - a video standard for high-res displays. This means, any mini DisplayPort will plug into the Thunderbolt using any adapter.
<h2>Comparison Between USB, Firewire, Express Card & Thunderbolt Technologies</h2>
While USB 3.0 promises speeds up to 5 GB/sec, the new technology offers speeds double than existing technologies.

<h3>Thunderbolt Technology Features</h3>
* Dual-channel 10 Gbps per port
* Bi-directional
* Dual-protocol (PCI Express* and DisplayPort*)
* Compatible with existing DisplayPort devices
* Daisy-chained devices
* Electrical or optical cables
* Low latency with highly accurate time synchronization
* Uses native protocol software drivers
* Power over cable for bus-powered devices

The following diagram shows data flow -


Thunderbolt technology enables engineers to:

* Design standalone performance expansion technologies commonly used in desktops and workstations, using existing native device drivers and interconnected by a single cable.
* Introduce thinner and lighter laptops, expandable through Thunderbolt technology and its miniature connector designed for mobile applications, without sacrificing I/O performance.
* Extend to reach other I/O technologies by using adapters that use widely available PCI Express controllers. It's simple to create a Gigabit Ethernet, or FireWire, or eSATA adapters using existing device PCI Express drivers.

Via: Apple | Intel Posted in: #Coffee Room

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