What is Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt technology was first designed by Intel back in 2011. It combines PCI Express and Display port into one, allowing for fast data and power to be transmitted over the wire. Thunderbolt has changed a lot in the last few years, and it has great impacted how people do business, especially in the graphic design world.

Thunderbolt is a direct attached connection that allows up to 6 devices in a daisy chain. This means you can have up to 6 external hard drives connected to that single Thunderbolt port on your 21″ iMac or MacBook Air. It’s also fast, like really fast, like really really fast. Thunderbolt 1 was 10Gbits/s, Thunderbolt 2 is 20Gbit/s and the new version 3 will be 40Gbit/s (or 5 GB/s). To put that in perspective, that USB 2 drive you just spent $100 on is only 480Mbit/s. (PS there are 1024 M in a G, so Thunderbolt 1 is 10000Mbit/s).

So why the need for speed? As we move forward with technology, our files have been getting larger. We save more photos and videos than ever before, and we work on SUPER huge images. Also Thunderbolt technology allows us to power hi-res monitors. Version 3 can simultaneously run two 4k monitors. That’s a lot of pixels.

So why does Virtua Computers like Thunderbolt? Backup and storage of course! Let’s first talk about backup. We tell everyone to be “Virtua Compliant”, you need a time machine drive, a clone drive and an offsite for your server. This ensures data retention in case of a problem. Using thunderbolt connections between the main server drive and the time machine and clone drive allows for quick transfer as to not hog up the precious bandwidth needed to allow your company to continue working. For home users, if you need to backup your computer to a new one, what would have taken hours via Firewire or USB now can take 1/3 that time (this is an estimate…it depends on how much data you have.)

Storage. As Apple sells machines with smaller and faster internal HDs (who really things 256GB is enough?), you will need a place to put all those pictures of your baby’s 1st birthday. You can easily transfer your entire Photo library to an external hard drive and never have to worry about latency or lag. This simple 1TB Lacie Rugged drive, will hold a lot of photos and videos. Thanks to the connection being so fast, it’s an obvious choice for any user.

The new Thunderbolt 3 will use the same connector as USB-3, changing it’s form factor from version 1 and 2. There’s a good chance the latest MacBooks, which only have USB-3 connector will be upgrading soon making that machine a powerhouse.

If you have more questions about thunderbolt, please feel free to leave a comment or connect with us and we will gladly help you.

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