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Thunderbolt: Goodbye USB?

February 24, 2011

Something that all of us deal with, college students especially, is transferring files on our computers. Whether copying videos or music from a hard drive or computer, it can take a really long time depending on the size of the files. As of today, however, the amount of time it takes to copy a movie or project will decrease dramatically.

This morning, Intel announced Thunderbolt, a new technology that might possibly replace USB, firewire, display connectors, and even power connectors. Thunderbolt claims speed of up to 10 gigabits per second, or about twice the speed of just-released USB 3. To better demonstrate it’s speed, take a look at this chart:

So what does these mean for non-computer nerds? Well if you are like most of us, you are probably using USB 2 to transfer movies to a friend or from a hard drive. Notice how low on the list USB 2 is? Using Thunderbolt, huge files can easily be transferred wherever you need them. Another cool aspect of the technology is that is allows “daisy-chaining” without loss in speed. What does that mean? It means that you can connect a single cable to your computer, and use just that single connection to connect several displays, hard drives, etc. The need for a dozen different ports on the side of your computer is also now gone; since a single port can connect multiple devices at the same time.

If you are into video, photography, or music, Thunderbolt will make quite an impact on your workflow and efficiency. If not, then it will still effect you by making higher quality videos and photos easier to move around, thus making HD video and photos more ubiquitous. The new MacBook Pro line that Apple announced today is the first to feature this technology, but many more manufacturers will likely adopt the technology in the next few months.

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