Lightning fast ThunderBolt computer interface technology (once codenamed LightPeak) was co-devolped by Intel and Apple to meet the future needs of a broad range of computer accessories and to leapfrog the emerging USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard.
LightPeak's 10Gbps per channel throughput may be overkill for many computer peripherals. But when it comes to High-Resolution and High-Definition displays and HD video - ThunderBolt delivers the insanely high-bandwidth Professionals need. Likewise with the data storage market: the ability to transfer a Gigabyte of data in literally seconds, a Terabyte in minutes, is a compelling technology - for both Pro and casual consumer needs.
It's expected that later this year - Intel's OEM logic-board division (a supplier of OEM motherboards to many major computer manufacturers) will bring ThunderBolt enabled Windows PCs to an even broader user base - and spur demand for a multitude of Thunder-Bolt computer peripherals and accessories.
Thunderbolt is intended to replace previous serial data interfaces while outperforming preceding methods in bandwidth and functionality. Based on the PCI Express Protocol (combined with the Mini DisplayPort), the Thunderbolt interface is thought to be capable of backwards compatibility with any USB 2.0 or FireWire 400 and 800 device (it is hoped the same may be said about USB 3 SuperSpeed, manufacturers are uncertain). Using a Thunderbolt adapter with the port grants Mac owners the ability to connect to additional devices with Mac.
Intel Thunderbolt promises to deliver two channels of 10 Gbps high-speed I/O through one serial data interface.This dual protocol I/O technology is designed to not only provide high-speed data transfers, but serve a a universal port for any computer device. The 10 Gbps data transfers sets the standard in high-speed I/O for professionals or consumers. While still very new, Intel Thunderbolt has the potential to define professional bandwidth for data storage, HD video resolution, and digital audio quality on Thunderbolt audio interfaces and mixing boards.
Several High-profile storage manufacturers have announced their support and are onboard to deliver ThunderBolt Drives later in the year: Most notably LaCie with thier 'LittleBig Disk' SSD drive, Promise Technology with thier Pegasus multi-drive DAS storage, and Seagate with it's interchangeable drive connection that will enable it's GoFlex series to support ThunderBolt adapters for it's consumer line of portable laptop and full-size desktop hard drives.
Currently Thunderbolt is only offered on all Apple Computer models. These include the entire lineup of Macbook Pro and iMac computers. The MacBook Pros all contain a single Thunderbolt port in place of the existing Mini DisplayPort. The iMac comes in a one or two T-bolt port option (depending on screen size), but promises the same functionality as the Macbook Pros. Running such an intricate data port requires a special hardware controller developed by Intel. As develop continues (and support grows), many more computers and devices should see support of Thunderbolt technology.