Apple released its Thunderbolt cable earlier this week, and late Wednesday posted an FAQ detailing just how the cable can be used. Thunderbolt is the high-speed peripheral connection found on the latest MacBook Pro and iMac, and will be coming to other computers in Apple’s product lineup in future hardware updates.
Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable
Thunderbolt is a new high-speed expansion port that uses the same connector as Apple’s Mini Display Port video adapter and can currently support up to six devices in a chain. The port offers dual-channel 10 gb/s data throughput, supports hard drives and other peripherals as well as displays, along with FireWire, USB and Gigabit Ethernet devices with adapters.
According to Apple’s FAQ, the Thunderbolt cable supports third-party Thunderbolt devices, like the Pegasus RAID, and it supports Target Disk mode, just like FireWire.
Thunderbolt cables shouldn’t be longer than 2 meters to avoid performance degradation, and Boot Camp supports the cable with Windows, although devices need to be connected at startup and PCI Express cards won’t work for MacBook Pro users when Thunderbolt devices are connected.
The Thunderbolt port supports using an iMac as an external display, but only when using a Mini DisplayPort cable.
Apple also released a Thunderbolt firmware update for the MacBook Pro and iMac earlier this week that’s required to properly use the port and new cable. The update is available through the Software Update application, or as a download at the Apple Support Web site.