From the company with the fastest processors comes the fastest way to get information in and out of your PC and peripheral devices.‡ At 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt™ technology gives you great responsiveness with high-speed data and display transfers in each direction—at the same time.‡ With a single cable, connecting a PC to multiple devices is simple, making it easy to get and see what you want, when you want it. Thunderbolt technology gives you incredible flexibility; high performance expansion is just a cable away for new and novel uses, now and in the future.
With the 10 Gbps performance of Thunderbolt products you can
- Transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds‡
- Backup 1 year of continuous MP3 playback in just over 10 minutes‡
What is Thunderbolt technology and how does it work
Developed by Intel (under the code name Light Peak), and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple. Thunderbolt technology is a new, high-speed, dual-protocol I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity, and flexibility. This high-speed data transfer technology features the following:
- Dual-channel 10 Gbps per port
- 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
Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols. 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.
And all Thunderbolt devices share a common connector, allowing users to daisy chain devices one after another with interoperable cables.
What Thunderbolt means to users
Thunderbolt technology enables using the thinnest and lightest laptops and connecting to the extra power and performance of other devices when needed, using a single cable. Adding new performance devices is simple and easy—just plug and play—making Thunderbolt technology powerful and flexible.
Thunderbolt technology was specifically designed with professional audio and video applications in mind, where the inherently low latency and highly accurate time synchronization features play a crucial role.
Enthusiast–level performance expansion, now with a laptop
With Thunderbolt enabled products, video editing and sharing using Intel® Quick Sync Video technology is even faster and easier.
Data transfers for backup, sharing, and editing are tremendously accelerated using Thunderbolt products, significantly reducing times to complete these tasks.
And Thunderbolt enabled products are compatible with existing DisplayPort devices so you don’t have to go buy a new display to take advantage of a Thunderbolt technology enabled computer.
What does Thunderbolt technology mean for the PC industry
By tapping into the performance and protocols delivered over Thunderbolt technology, designers are free to innovate new PC products and configurations, no longer constrained to the boundaries of the chassis walls. 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.
Thunderbolt products require a controller chip supplied by Intel and a small connector that would be included in platforms supporting this technology. The Thunderbolt controller chip provides protocol switching capabilities to support the two protocols over a single cable. Intel is making its controller chip available to the industry, and is working with other component manufacturers to deliver the Thunderbolt connectors and cables.
Several innovative companies have announced Thunderbolt enabled products, or plans to support Thunderbolt in upcoming products including Apple Inc., Promise Technology, Inc., and LaCie. Intel is working with the industry to enable a variety of Thunderbolt enabled products including computers, displays, high speed data storage devices, audio/video devices, and more.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Intel to bring the groundbreaking Thunderbolt technology to Mac users,” said Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Mac Hardware Engineering. “With ultra-fast transfer speeds, support for high-resolution displays and compatibility with existing I/O technologies, Thunderbolt is a breakthrough for the entire industry and we think developers are going to have a blast with it.”
– Bob Mansfield, Senior Vice President of Mac Hardware Engineering, Apple Inc.
“Welcome to the future, Thunderbolt technology enables the fastest and simplest I/O for connecting AJA’s award-winning professional video capture and playback products to your laptop.”
– John Abt, CEO, AJA
“Thunderbolt technology is connectivity without compromise and will enable the full promise of Symphony I/O, Apogee’s professional digital audio recording platform.”
– Betty Bennett, CEO, Apogee
“We are very excited by the capabilities of Thunderbolt technology. To have two 10Gbps, bi-directional, multi-protocol channels in a single cable is a great step forward for high performance audio and video solutions.”
– Max Gutnik, Sr. Director, Product Management, Avid Technology
“Thunderbolt technology will revolutionize mobile media creation. It’s a game-changer and will accelerate our ability to build the highest quality video creation products that are affordable to everyone.”
– Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic
“We are excited about Thunderbolt™ technology and feel it will bring new levels of performance and simplicity to the video creation market”
– Hiroo Edakubo, Group Executive, Video Products Group, Canon Inc.
“Thunderbolt technology is a breakthrough in I/O technology and represents the future of mobile computing. Soon you will be able to carry all the power and functionality of desktop environments in compact devices.”
– Philippe Spruch, Chairman and General Manager, LaCie
“Pegasus family storage products will be blazingly fast with Thunderbolt technology, consumers and creative professionals alike will experience a remarkable leap in performance.”
– James Lee, CEO, Promise Technology
“Technology like this only happens about once a decade. We are thrilled about the performance and simplicity Thunderbolt technology will bring to our award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform.”
– Bill Putnam, CEO, Universal Audio
“Western Digital believes Thunderbolt technology will bring both new performance levels and simpler connectivity for consumers to access and enjoy their digital media in new and innovative ways.”
– Dale Pistilli, VP Marketing, Branded Products, Western Digital Corporation