Thunderbolt is a revolutionary I/O technology that supports high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single, compact port. It was developed through a collaboration between Intel and Apple and uses the same mini Displayport connector that was previously only used for connecting an external monitor.
Apple offers the following description of the new technology.
Powerful technology from a powerful collaboration.
Thunderbolt began at Intel Labs with a simple concept: create an incredibly fast input/output technology that just about anything can plug into. After close technical collaboration between Intel and Apple, Thunderbolt emerged from the lab to make its first appearance in MacBook Pro.
Intel co-invented USB and PCI Express, which have become widely adopted technologies for data transfer. Apple invented FireWire and was instrumental in popularizing USB. Their collective experience has made Thunderbolt the most powerful, most flexible I/O technology ever in a personal computer.
One small port. One giant leap in possibilities.
MacBook Pro now gives you access to a world of high-resolution displays and high-speed peripherals with one compact port. That’s because Thunderbolt is based on two fundamental technologies: PCI Express and DisplayPort.
PCI Express is the technology that links all the high-performance components in a Mac. And it’s built into Thunderbolt. Which means you can connect external devices like RAID arrays and video capture solutions directly to MacBook Pro — and get PCI Express performance. That’s a first for notebooks. Thunderbolt also provides 10 watts of power to peripherals, so you can tackle workstation-class projects on the go. With PCI Express technology, you can use existing USB and FireWire peripherals — even connect to Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks — using simple adapters.
And because Thunderbolt is based on DisplayPort technology, the video standard for high-resolution displays, any Mini DisplayPort display plugs right into the Thunderbolt port. To connect a DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, or VGA display, just use an existing adapter.
Performance and expansion never seen on a notebook before.
With 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions, Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data to and from peripherals up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 and more than 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. Two 10-Gbps channels on the same connector mean you can daisy-chain multiple high-speed devices and a display, without using a hub — and without reducing performance.
High-Speed I/O Performance
USB 2.0: 480 Mbps
FireWire 800: 800 Mbps
Express Card: 2.5 Gbps
USB 3.0: 5 Gbps
Thunderbolt: 10 Gbps
High performance on display.
Thunderbolt I/O technology provides native support for Mini DisplayPort displays. It also supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA displays through the use of existing adapters. So you can connect your Apple LED Cinema Display or other existing display, along with multiple high-speed devices, all from a single port.
No project is too massive.
Now you can create a professional video setup for your MacBook Pro, just as you would for your Mac Pro. If you’re a video editor, imagine connecting high-performance storage, a high-resolution display, and high-bit-rate video capture devices to handle all the post-production for a feature film — right on your notebook. Thunderbolt I/O technology allows you to daisy-chain up to six new peripherals, such as the Promise Pegasus RAID or LaCie Little Big Disk, or five peripherals and an Apple LED Cinema Display.
And that’s just the beginning. With Thunderbolt technology, peripheral manufacturers finally have what they need to take high-performance devices from workstations and top-of-the-line desktops to portable computers.
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