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Thunderbolt

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

Thunderbolt (code named "Light Peak") is a high-speed, bidirectional input/output (I/O) technology that can transfer data of all types on a single cable at speeds of up to 10 Gbps (billions of bits per second). A single cable up to three meters (10 feet) long can support seven devices simultaneously in a daisy chain.

According to Intel, a Thunderbolt connection can transfer 1 TB (terabyte) of data in less than five minutes and a typical high-definition (HD) video file in less than 30 seconds. The high speed and low latency make Thunderbolt ideal for backup, restore, and archiving operations. Of the seven devices (maximum) that a Thunderbolt connection can support at one time, two of them can be displays. Because of the exceptional transfer rate that Thunderbolt offers, the technology is ideal for gamers and video professionals.

The nickname "Light Peak" derives from Intel's original intent to use optical fiber cabling. However, engineers discovered that copper cables could provide up to 10 Gbps at a lower cost than optical fiber cables could do. In addition, Intel found that copper cabling could deliver up to 10 watts of power to attached devices at the requisite speeds.

This was last updated in February 2013

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