Intel plans to release its Thunderbolt developer tools to companies this quarter, potentially opening up the port to a wide range of devices. Currently, Thunderbolt is available only on Apple’s early 2011 MacBook Pro, and there aren’t any peripherals available yet that take advantage of its features.
Intel developed Thunderbolt under the code name “Light Peak” with the assistance of Apple. The technology offers faster data transfers than FireWire 800 or USB 3.0.
Thunderbolt 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, and future versions will shift from using copper wire to fibre optics for data transfers.
So far, only a handful of companies have announced Thunderbolt-compatible products, and none of those are shipping yet. With Intel’s release of its Thunderbolt developer kit, however, the number of compatible devices will likely start to climb quickly.
Apple’s Thunderbolt port on the new MacBook Pro
[Thanks to PCWorld for the heads up.]