Table of contents:
- What is Thunderbolt technology?
- History of technology creation
- Appearance on the market
- Thunderbolt and PCI Express
- Advantages of Technology
- Competing Technologies
- Second version
- Thunderbolt devices: monitor
- Thunderbolt Devices: Express Station
- Thunderbolt devices: hard drive
Thunderbolt is one of the most technologically advanced communication interfaces on the modern IT market. Devices compatible with it first appeared on the market in 2011. What is the specificity of this standard? What are its advantages over common competitive solutions?
What is Thunderbolt technology?
Thunderbolt - what is this technology? She was previously known as Light Peak. It is a standard for wired communications, through which it is possible to transmit various types of digital data, as well as electricity. Developed by the joint efforts of two giants of the IT industry - Intel and Apple. In English Thunderbolt means "peal of thunder". A similar name is given to the A-10 Thunderbolt II military aircraft used by the US Air Force. It is not known whether there is any continuity between it and solutions from IT brands. But the fact is remarkable enough.
The technology is based on two architectures: PCI Express and DisplayPort. The main advantage of the technology is its high data transfer rate, as well as its versatility. It is possible to organize interaction with a wide range of devices - hard drives, multimediadevices. Also, a port that supports the Thunderbolt standard can stream high-resolution video using the DisplayPort protocol. The total power limit of equipment connected to the Thunderbolt port is 10 W.
The technology allows data to be transmitted both optically and electronically. The second option is more economical. But the demand for optical implementation of the technology is also expected to be significant.
The delay in data transmission within the considered standard is minimal - about 8 ns. To connect devices, it can use a copper cable up to 3 m long or an optical cable up to 100 m. Connecting devices to Mac computers equipped with Thunderbolt ports is possible in "hot" mode - without turning off the device.
Thunderbolt technology is expected to be capable of data transfer rates up to 100Gbps in the future. The demand for the corresponding standard is especially noticeable on the part of specialists who process high-quality video files.
History of technology creation
The technology, originally called Light Peak, was introduced to the public by Intel in 2009. At the same time, the American brand used a prototype of the printed circuit board of the Mac Pro device, through which high-definition video streams were broadcast through an optical cable. At the same time, the possibility of data transfer within the local network and the interaction of the system with an external drive was shown. The technology functioned on the basis of the PCI interfaceExpress.
The data transfer rate of 10 Gbps was provided through optical channels. It was also noted that it is possible to achieve indicators of 100 Gb / s. Intel representatives said that devices equipped with Light Peak may appear on the market in 2010. Online multimedia presentations also showed that Light Peak technology is able to interact with a wide range of devices - cameras, computers, monitors.
In May 2010, Intel showed the public a laptop equipped with Light Peak, thus proving that the interface can be built into small devices. Intel also showed how two video streams can be transmitted simultaneously in high quality. The brand announced that the factory release of controllers supporting the corresponding technology is possible at the end of 2010. In the fall of 2010, some prototype devices that implemented the new standard were shown to the public at the Intel Developer Forum.
Appearance on the market
In February 2011, the Light Peak standard was implemented under a new name - Thunderbolt on Apple devices. The new port first appeared on MacBook Pros, then iMacs, as well as MacBook Airs, Mac Minis, and Apple monitors.
A large number of devices have already been created based on the technology. Among them is Apple's popular Thunderbolt Display. It is remarkable above allby its size. The number of inches that Apple has equipped it with is 27. Thunderbolt Display allows you to fully utilize one of the main advantages of the technology - data transfer speed. Through this resource, the video stream is displayed on the big screen in high resolution and the highest quality.
Thunderbolt and PCI Express
Above we talked about Thunderbolt, which is a technology that combines two standards. Let's consider how the PCI Express architecture is used within it. This standard is high-speed, it is used to integrate various elements of devices such as Mac - processor, video card, disk. Thanks to the technological capabilities of PCI Express, the Thunderbolt standard can transfer data at a speed of about 10 Gb / s. At the same time, within each port, there are two channels - receiving and transmitting. The specified speed is higher than when using standards such as FireWire 800, or, for example, USB 3.0. But high data transfer rates are not the only advantage of the technology.
Advantages of Technology
One of the key features of the technology is versatility. The standard in question allows the transfer of the appropriate type of digital data, as well as power supply through a common port. Thus, there is no need to connect a large number of cables to the computer. Another aspect of the technology's versatility is compatibility with USB ports and the FireWire standard through special adapters. At the same time, Thunderbolt technology allows devices to work within the limits of those speeds thatguaranteed by the corresponding interfaces, i.e., does not slow down their work.
The next aspect of the technology's versatility is the ability to simultaneously connect up to 6 devices to a single Thunderbolt port using a serial method. True, the channel resource will be shared between devices. To ensure optimal data transfer speed, it is important that each of the devices forming the chain supports the appropriate standard without the use of adapters. Another aspect of the technology's versatility is compatibility with any processors and chipsets, no matter what brand.
So, we have considered the main advantages of Thunderbolt. What is this technology, now you know. But she also has competitors. Let's consider their specifics. The main competing standard for Apple's technology is SuperSpeed USB, also referred to as USB 3.0. What are its key advantages over Apple's solution?
- support for equipment running on the previous technology, USB 2.0;
- compatibility with modern models of digital technology, motherboards;
- growing market demand for the corresponding type of equipment;
- The supply voltage is high power, and it can run various portable devices.
There are technological nuances in which the USB 3.0 standard is objectively inferior to technology from Apple. Namely:
- channel capacitySuperSpeed USB half as fast;
- the largest system solution providers do not practice branded support for the standard;
- do not connect devices in a serial way.
There is a thesis according to which SuperSpeed USB technology will still not be a direct competitor to Thunderbolt, that this is the standard for another market segment. Therefore, two interfaces that have both advantages and disadvantages can be quite comfortable on the market at the same time.
Intel and Apple are actively developing the technology. A new corresponding standard has already been introduced to the market - Thunderbolt 2. The new technology allows you to increase the data transfer rate up to 20 Gb / s. Its name sounds, however, almost like the same A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. With its help, you can broadcast a video stream in UltraHD format. Also, thanks to the integrated support of the DisplayPort standard in version 1.2, the new interface can transmit video to two displays operating in QHD mode. Thunderbolt 2 technology is fully compatible with devices and accessories released under version 1 of the interface.
Thunderbolt devices: monitor
What type of devices that support the technology in question are common on the market? Among the most popular devices is Apple's Thunderbolt Display. This device has a large diagonal - 27 inches. The Apple Thunderbolt Display is equipped with LED backlighting. It is designed for use with Mac series computers, as well as with MacBook laptops. Maindisplay advantages: high resolution, excellent sound quality, presence of a FaceTime HD camera, compatibility with the FireWire 800 standard, as well as with the Gigabit Internet interface. Of course, this device fully allows you to use all the advantages of Thunderbolt technology. You can also connect peripherals to the Apple Thunderbolt Display via FireWire.
Let's take a closer look at the characteristics of the screen of the device. The number of inches that the Apple Thunderbolt display has is 27. With this device, you can build realistic panoramic pictures. The aspect ratio of the screen is 16:9, the display resolution is 2560 by 1440 pixels. The fact that the Thunderbolt Display is 27 inches is not its only advantage. The display also features state-of-the-art LED backlighting that instantly wakes up to full brightness. Also, the screen can be adjusted to external lighting conditions. The optimal brightness of the display can be set automatically, thanks to the sensor built into the device. This feature can significantly reduce the power consumption of the monitor. Apple Thunderbolt Display allows you to comfortably view pictures and videos from any viewing angle thanks to IPS technology. This standard provides a high level of display brightness, as well as stable color reproduction.
The device is characterized by excellent sound quality. The speakers included with the Apple display include a subwoofer that givesmultimedia stream especially pleasant shades of sound due to additional frequencies. Other notable display accessories include a FaceTime HD camera, as well as a built-in microphone. Thanks to these devices, the monitor can be connected to a computer and communicate comfortably through video call programs. As we noted above, the screen size that supports the Thunderbolt standard is 27 inches. Therefore, the user will be able to see the interlocutor during video calls and his environment in sufficient detail.
Thunderbolt Devices: Express Station
Above we said about the versatility of Thunderbolt, that it is a technology that allows the integration of various types of devices. Among the solutions common on the market based on the communication interface in question is the express station manufactured by Belkin. What is this device?
Express Station is a tool with which a computer user can use one Thunderbolt port connection to connect 8 devices simultaneously via FireWire, USB, Ethernet connection, and Thunderbolt daisy chain connection. Thanks to the express station capabilities, no additional Thunderbolt adapter is needed to connect devices. FireWire and USB standards are among the most common in the modern IT industry.
The main features of the Belkin express station involve the use of the key advantages of the technology in question, namely high speed and versatility. By usingdevices can quickly transfer files, including Full HD videos, and large volumes of music.
Thunderbolt devices: hard drive
An example of another device using Thunderbolt technology is the LaCie d2 hard drive. This device is remarkable in that it combines two interfaces at once - Thunderbolt itself and one of the most competitive standards - USB 3.0, as we noted above. This feature allows you to significantly increase the versatility of the device.
Hard disk main features:
- data transfer speed - up to 200 MB/s;
- one USB 3.0 port and two Thunderbolt 2 connectors;
- Reduced noise emission and high cooling efficiency due to aluminum housing;
- weak vibration, due to the presence of shock-absorbing elements in the body structure;
- Time Machine compatible device;
- several programs are preinstalled in the package for data backup;
- HDD can be upgraded to SSD model, so the data transfer speed can be increased by 5 times;
With Thunderbolt 2 capabilities, the drive can be used as a powerful backup tool for large data such as high-quality video editing files. The device comes with a cable for connecting to a Thunderbolt connector, a similar component for connecting via USB 3.0 (when compatible with an earlier standard - USB 2.0), a power supply, andinstallation guide.
Of course, the Apple Thunderbolt Display, the LaCie d2 hard drive and the Belkin Express Station are just a few examples of devices powered by the new technology. Devices that take advantage of the high-speed and universal standard from Intel and Apple are on the market in the widest range. It is not at all surprising how many inches Apple has equipped its display - 27 "Thunderbolt Display presents the user with the highest quality picture. Belkin's interest in the new technology can also be explained - the standard developed by Apple and Intel implies versatility, compatibility with a large number of other interfaces, and therefore the demand in the market.