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Intel demonstrates Thunderbolt port performance

The interface will be able to transfer movie files in seconds and stream multiple hi-def videos simulataneously

Prior to the announcement of the new Apple MacBooks for 2011, rumors were abounding that the latest notebook refresh may include Intel’s Light Peak interface. Now that the new MacBook lineup has been revealed, Intel’s latest high-speed interface will officially be making its way to MacBooks under the name Thunderbolt.

This high-speed port will have the ability to transfer data up to 10Gbits/sec and may one day replace both USB 3.0 and VGA/DVI ports if the new port finds widespread success in consumer electronics.

Intel spokesperson Jason Ziller demonstrates the raw potential of the data port in the video below. By connecting a six-drive RAID array to a 2011 MacBook via a Thunderbolt connection, he was able to transfer a 4.5GB movie file at a throughput ranging from 600-800MB/sec, thus finishing the transfer in just 15 seconds. A regular USB 2.0 connection would have taken a few minutes for a movie file of similar size.

Additionally, Ziller demonstrates the video performance of the Thunderbolt port through a monitor daisy-chained to the same setup as mentioned above. He was able to stream up to four 1080p video files simultaneously from the RAID array to the MacBook Pro and external monitor, all utilizing the same cable.

Whether or not Intel’s new data port will take off is going to depend on its market adoption in the coming years. The interface will be competing against the more familiar USB 3.0 standard, which has already begun making its way to mainstream laptops and desktops.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-03-14 (Update: 2021-05-18)