Thunderbolt: The changing face of local connectivity

It’s been nearly a year since Apple and Intel’s wunderkind, Thunderbolt, was unveiled, and with reviews of the first generation of peripherals now in, we thought we’d take a look at what the 10Gbps, bi-directional port can do for you…

Super-fast DAS

Drives like the PROMISE Pegasus and the LaCie Little Big Disk offer high speeds, with the Pegasus giving amazing pound per GB value. A godsend for anyone with high bandwidth requirements, these make accessing multiple streams of hi-res footage or large projects far easier. If you’ve got the cash for multiple drives, the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices without impacting performance gives you an easy way to up your local storage capacity (or even a way to link storage to I/O, displays and more) without slowing down retrieval times.

An easier way to expand

The arrival of the SANLink, with its dual 4Gb FC link and two Thunderbolt ports, means you can now add a more diverse range of devices to your SAN. As if that wasn’t enough, the increased bandwidth Thunderbolt offers has enabled manufacturers like AJA and Blackmagic Design to offer blistering capture and playback on conversion through compact devices like the lo XT and Matrox MXO2 family and UltraStudio 3D.

Various manufacturers are developing adaptors, PCIe expansion chassis like the Sonnet RackMac Xserver or Cubix Xpander Mobile and more, so you can still use tried-and-tested tools, or fork out to replace your entire setup at once. You can add key devices to speed up your workflow, and then break out all your connections – FireWire 800, USB and Gigabit Ethernet – from a single box to take advantage of all your hardware.

Developed by Intel and Apple, Thunderbolt combines video, audio and data streams into one high-powered connection for all your peripherals, from RAID drives to monitors, offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps – that’s eight times faster than FireWire 800 and twenty times faster then USB 2.0.
It combines elements of PCI Express (namely the blistering speed and direct connection to the PCI Express bus) and DisplayPort technology and uses the Mini DisplayPort (there are FireWire and USB adaptors available too). The Thunderbolt port first appeared on Apple’s MacBook Pro range released in February 2011, but can now be found on a wide range of Apple hardware.

Already using Thunderbolt? Let us know how it’s going in the comments below. To find out more, you can call us on 03332 409 306 or email; you can also keep up with the latest news by following @JigsawVideo on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Facebook page.

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