Intel Thunderbolt bolts through data transfers

New technology--which debuts in Apple's new MacBook Pros--promises to significantly speed up data transfers.

By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World |  Storage, Intel, Thunderbolt

Ziller didn't address when we might see USB 3.0 adoption in their chipset; nor did he address when Thunderbolt technology might be seen in Intel's own chipset, although he did theorize we might see it in PCs by early next year (based on the SDK becoming available this summer). That means that Apple has a huge jump on the market--although no one will be able to do anything with Thunderbolt for a while, at any rate.

That's because devices will take time to ramp up, too. LaCie announced that its Little Big Disk will come by summer 2011; no pricing was announced as yet. Western Digital and Promise Technology are also said to be developing product for the new interface. Western Digital told us that it's evaluating Thunderbolt, and "once it's clear that the market will broadly embrace the technology, we will offer Thunderbolt-enabled storage devices."

In addition to those storage companies, high-end professional audio-visual purveyors like Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, and Universal Audio have announced support for Thunderbolt as well.

The first adopters of Thunderbolt are likely to be media creation professionals. Given what Thunderbolt enables--namely, multitasking, and time-syncing--it's not surprising that those companies are involved. Thunderbolt could easily transform moviemaking and post-production chores, for example.

Where Does Thunderbolt Fit in For Storage?

The reality is that Thunderbolt is, in its first year, going to mainly appeal to media creators working in video- and audio-editing tasks. There's no real threat to USB 3.0, simply because, in spite of its compatibility with PCI Express and DisplayPort, Thunderbolt has no established ecosystem of products it's trying to work with. I see more of a threat to FireWire, which also saw benefits from daisy-chaining; but that's in the long-term. For now, Apple continues to include FireWire ports, so that interconnect isn't a goner just yet.

The other reality, though, is that consumers will very much want and need Thunderbolt. As households increasingly accumulate digital media--be it high-definition or high-megapixel--we increasingly need to manage our own data centers, which will make welcome any time savings Thunderbolt can provide.

No one likes to wait for data to transfer--it's why a decade ago CDs continually tried to push the envelope to achieve faster transfers; and it's why even today many data management tasks for hard drive-based data get back-burnered because of the time involved.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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