Intel, Apple Unveil ‘Thunderbolt’

Apple has just updated its line of MacBook Pros. Usually, this isn’t anything to get particularly excited about, but this time around, they’ve got a genuine treat: Thunderbolt. Apple is the first to use this new connection technology, developed at Intel and believed to be the copper version of Lightpeak. It’s pretty impressive.

The port looks exactly like a DisplayPort connector, but boy, can it do a whole lot more. It supports a transfer speed of up to 10 Gbps, which is about twice the speed of USB 3.0. You can also daisy-chain up to 6 devices through one connector, which is also pretty impressive. It can deliver 10 Watts of power, and has both DisplayPort and PCI Express built right in, and it’s bi-directional. By employing PCI Express, you don’t need special drivers for each piece of equipment.

“Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols,” Intel explains, “Thunderbolt technology works on data streams in both directions, at the same time, so users get the benefit of full bandwidth in both directions, over a single cable. With the two independent channels, a full 10 Gbps of bandwidth can be provided for the first device, as well as additional downstream devices.”

“Now you can create a professional video setup for your MacBook Pro, just as you would for your Mac Pro,” Apple writes, “If you’re a video editor, imagine connecting high-performance storage, a high-resolution display, and high-bit-rate video capture devices to handle all the post-production for a feature film – right on your notebook.”

It’s all pretty damn impressive, and while it’s Intel who developed it, it’s once again Apple who is first in bringing a promising new connection technology to consumers. They haven’t always been successful with this, but with Intel on their side, this technology will be going somewhere.

Can you imagine, in a few years, having a Thunderbolt port on your smartphone? With smartphones becoming ever more powerful, the moment where you can just plug your smartphone in a dock somewhere and have it connected to a high-resolution display and several input and storage devices is coming ever closer.

Quite exciting, and props to Apple for having the balls to take the plunge.

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