Intel announces second-generation Thunderbolt protocol | Bangkok Post: tech

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Intel announces second-generation Thunderbolt protocol

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Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 connector port offers double the speed of its predecessor and can support ultra-high definition video output. 

Thunderbolt technology connector Existing Thunderbolt cables and ports already offer a connection and throughput speed far superior to USB 3.0 or Firewire 800.

Making its official debut at Computex Taipei, Intel promised that the latest version of its protocol will get an upgraded chip, which will increase throughput speed to 20Gpbs from 10Gpbs but that its supporting cables and ports would remain unchanged to ensure backwards compatibility.

As exciting as this may be to the devoted hardcore technophile, most consumers have probably never heard of the original Thunderbolt Port or even know what it is for, never mind the fact that it now has a sequel.

Although standard on Apple computers since 2011, it has so far failed to catch on with other PC makers even though it is a single point of connection for the addition of any other type of port, peripheral or accessory. As such it is a technology that could play an increasingly important role in the future of consumer electronics, especially as more and more people move away from desktops and towards lightweight, mobile devices such as tablets and ultrabooks.

In attempts to save weight, designers and manufacturers have to make decisions as to which ports and connectors to keep and which ones to lose on notebook, ultrabook, hybrid and high-end tablet devices. Things such as PC cards and external display ports have already vanished from most portable device ranges to be replaced by a handful of USB ports and maybe a HDMI output. And, although useful for connecting a mouse or connecting to a printer or monitor, they can't be used for connecting these devices to a docking station or for plugging in sufficient peripherals so that a lightweight portable device can also serve as a desktop replacement when needed.

The Thunderbolt port means that an owner can add any other type of port or connector they may need, whenever they need it, simply by plugging a Thunderbolt Dock into the Thunderbolt Port -- be it a PC slot, extra USB ports or even professional graphics cards.

With the increased speed of Thunderbolt 2, Intel says that users will be able to create, view and edit live ultra-high definition video streams from a computer to a monitor over a single cable and simultaneously back that file up to an external drive -- terabytes of data -- in minutes rather than hours.

As well as Apple, Intel says that a further 30 PCs, including models from Lenovo and Acer also support the technology.

Thunderbolt 2 is expected to go into initial production towards the end of 2013 for inclusion on 2014 PCs.

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