As most Mac enthusiasts have now discovered, Apple updated the Macbook Pro line last week. While the physical design remains the same, three major internal changes were made on the popular portables. The first was an upgrade of the processors, the second a boost to the graphics, and the third, and perhaps most intriguing change, the advent of a new I/O (input/output) technology; Thunderbolt.
What Is Thunderbolt?The new Thunderbolt port, developed as a result of a collaboration between Apple and Intel, appears to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ While physically it is shaped like a 20 pin MiniDisplay port, the Thunderbolt port can be used not only for displays, but also peripherals such as a LaCie hard drive or a Promise Raid. The varied functionality means that the new port can bring capabilities to a laptop that were once reserved only for desktop computers. According to the Intel website, companies who have voiced their support for the new technology include AJA, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, LaCie, Promise Technology, Universal Audio and Western Digital. This widespread support from such trusted names in technology mean that we shouldn’t have to wait long before a number of peripheral devices are available with Thunderbolt technology.
But what does all of this mean to you, the consumer? More than anything else it would appear that Thunderbolt means speed, and lots of it. Its symbol, a combination of an arrow and lightening bolt, is indicative of just how quick the new technology is. It is said to transfer data at a rate of 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps,) making it 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than a USB 2.0 connection. In more quantifiable terms, that equates to the ability to move an entire HD movie across a Thunderbolt cable in approximately 30 seconds.
What we’re excited about:
Our entire team here at MacOutfitters is excited to see the speeds of the new technology as well. Brad S. and John C., two technicians in our Western PA stores, are both looking forward to the possibilities of lightening fast data migrations. Mike M. from our Doylestown store is excited about the ability to daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt compatible peripherals, without compromising speed and performance. Brian C. from our Doylestown store brings up the point that Thunderbolt will be an exciting technology in the business realm as it will provide for instant, or near instant, back up to external drives. This should serve as a faster and cheaper alternative connection for raid technology in the enterprise market.
Video is key
Don K., our video specialist at the Cranberry store is "salivating at what Thunderbolt can do for the video industry. From high end capture devices, displays, and super-fast speeds for external drives, this is a new ballgame! And the fact that you get all this in a single port is amazing." Tim F., our video specialist at the Doylestown store is excited for the 20 Gbps available in each direction, which is in his words “really really fast.”
Andrew D. of our Doylestown store brings up the point that once Thunderbolt technology becomes the standard, portables will be made smaller and thinner. This is because they will no longer be at the mercy of the thicker and more cumbersome ports of the past. Meanwhile, Stan M. of our Doylestown store is simply impressed that everything has been poured into one single cable.
At this point Thunderbolt is creating a great deal of buzz around the tech world, and looks to be a huge and positive advancement on a number of fronts. While some in the blogosphere have shared concerns about the security of the new technology, it is still too early for there to be real-world evidence supporting these claims. Either way, Thunderbolt is living up to its moniker as a groundbreaking new event on the technology scene.