Computer Components FAQ

Q Thunderbolt speed?


A Currently up to 10 Gbps or 1250 MB/s, expected to double in 2014.
Thunderbolt, like USB, is a standard for connecting devices to a computer. It was released on Feb 2011. The maximum theoretical data transfer speed currently allowed by Thunderbolt is 10 Gbps or 1250 MBps, this maximum is expected to double in 2014 with the introduction of an even faster version code named Falcon Ridge. Theoretical maximums are one thing but real world speeds often lag significantly behind. In the case of Thunderbolt real world tests have measured transfer rates of over 700MB/s which is only 56% of the theoretical maximum but still significantly faster than its competitors. In addition to allowing the fastest peripheral connection speeds, Thunderbolt wires are capable of simultaneously carrying power (10 watts), video data (DisplayPort) and PCI Express. This versatility is one of Thunderbolt's key strengths as it removes the need for seperate video, power and data cables. As yet (2013) there are still very few Thunderbolt devices on the market and USB 3.0 is still the dominant connection interface by far. One of the reasons for the slow uptake is that thunderbolt cables cost approximately £25 per metre, around ten times more than USB 3.0 cables. Unlike regular cables, Thunderbolt cables are active which means they have micro-chips built into each end. These micro-chips regulate voltage and reduce noise thus enabling stable and high bandwidth connections.

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