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All about Thunderbolt: Pete Schlatter, G-Technology

What to expect from the new superfast protocol

All about Thunderbolt: Pete Schlatter, G-Technology

Pete Schlatter from G-Technology explains what we can expect from the new superfast protocol featured on many of the latest Macs. 

First announced in 2009, previously referred to as Light Peak, Thunderbolt technology will transfer data between host devices and external devices at speeds of up to 10Gbps (bits per second). Thunderbolt will be able to transfer a full-length high-definition movie from an external storage device to a PC in less than 30 seconds.

The technology was specially designed for audio and video enthusiasts, Intel said. Users can get real-time processing by synchronizing high-bandwidth audio and video between PCs and other devices, cutting the lag time that exists with other technologies.

Contrary to what Intel said when the company first talked about Thunderbolt in 2009, it will not use light to provide high-bandwidth data transfers between devices.

Initial builds of Thunderbolt will be based on copper, David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Architecture Group said in an interview at CES. Optical technology is expensive and will be implemented over time as it gets cheaper, he said.

For the majority of user needs today, copper is good, Perlmutter said. But data transmission is much faster over fibre optics, which will increasingly be used by vendors in Thunderbolt implementations.

"The copper came out very good, surprisingly better than what we thought," Perlmutter said.

"Optical is always a new technology which is more expensive," he added.

Thunderbolt will compete with connector technologies such as USB, FireWire and HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface), which link PCs to external storage, audio devices and displays

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