I know this has been said before, but maybe this time it will be true. You have two heavy weights – Apple and Intel behind the technology and it just makes so much sense. Remove all your ports on your systems and just have ONE for everything….
Originally this was the goal of USB, but it has failed due to performance and it not really being developed for Video. Very interesting and Apple is the first to market with their new line of notebooks with the standard.
I can see this taking hold very quickly, quicker then what the article below indicates – it’s too bad that they missed the current INTEL processor change-up as this technology might have been included in that refresh of systems from other major players like HP – DELL and Lenovo. I think the next round of processor updates you will see both the Thunderbolt and USB on new systems and sometime next year USB will be removed from the picture completely.
GOOD BYE – USB
In its initial out-of-the-lab incarnation, Thunderbolt can use either copper or fiber connections for 10Gbps bidirectional communication. That speed is 20 times faster than the theoretical limit of USB 2.0, 12 times faster than FireWire 800, and twice as fast as USB3. According to Intel, however, the 10Gbps isn’t just a theoretical peak speed, but usable bandwidth. This allows a single port to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously for a combined throughput of 10Gbps.
That 10Gbps is much faster than most current I/O technologies. With two devices pushing data at the maximum rate, you could back up a full Blu-ray movie in 30 seconds, or sync 64GB of music to a portable device in about a minute. Copying the entire contents of the Library of Congress in digital form—approximately 20TB of data—would take about 35 minutes.
Active electrical-only cables can be up to 3 meters (just under 10 feet) in length, similar to current FireWire and USB standards. Active optical cables, which use fiber for data transmission and copper for up to 10W of power, can be “tens of meters” in length. Passive fiber-only cables could potentially be hundreds of meters long. These lengths enable more flexible positioning between devices and computers instead of relying on specialized connections or relatively pokey wireless solutions.
Thunderbolt Technology Brief (PDF) (intel.com)