In this blog post I’ll briefly cover what Thunderbolt is as well as summarising USB and Firewire protocols.
If you’ve ever used a USB flash drive or Firewire cable to transfer files you already have a good understanding of what Thunderbolt is.
As you’ll already know, USB can be used in a variety of ways, but most commonly used for file transfer (e.g. external hard drive, USB flash drives etc) and for a long time USB has been the best way to do this, not just in speed but also the wide variety of devices that support the USB protocol.
Firewire is similar to USB however is not as common and can also be used easily between Macintosh computers to transfer files. Firewire has usually been preferred in such industries as graphic design due to it’s vast speed increases on USB 2.0
Now that USB 3.0 has been released and starting to be deployed on devices, people are wanting USB 3.0 external hard drives and pen drives. No surprises there as it’s over 10 times faster than it’s predecessor, USB 2.0.
However, Intel’s new Thunderbolt technology blows the other protocols out of the water. Thunderbolt allows users to not only connect their computers to external storage at twice the speed of USB 3.0 (yes, over 20 times faster than USB 2.0!) but also to connect monitors supporting Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort connections (although adapters are available). The cool thing about Thunderbolt is that it can operate in a “daisy-chain” way, meaning that if you have multiple Thunderbolt devices (say 2 monitors), you could operate all devices off just one Thunderbolt port! While not widely supported yet, manufacturers are developing devices with Thunderbolt capabilities.
As you can see in the graph below, using the right technology can greatly increase your performance.
There we have it, a basic summary of Thunderbolt compared to similar technologies. I hope this was helpful.