Intel’s Next-Gen Thunderbolt Will Leave USB in the Dust

Published on April 8, 2013
by John Paczkowski

High_voltageBy 2014, USB 3.0 will see its data-transfer speed of 5 gigabits per second increased to 10Gbps. And even then, it will still be just half as fast as Intel’s Thunderbolt standard.

Intel said Monday that the next-generation version of Thunderbolt will support bidirectional data transfers of up to 20Gbps — double that of the current standard and the forthcoming update to USB 3.0. Intel said that speed enhancement will allow for the simultaneous transfer and display of 4K video, which is impressive to say the least.

This is Intel’s first big transfer rate improvement to Thunderbolt since the technology’s introduction in early 2011, and the company says it expects to roll it out by year’s end, with volume production beginning in 2014. The additional transfer speed this update brings could do much to bolster Thunderbolt’s market penetration, which has so far been disappointing despite early incorporation into Apple’s Mac portfolio.

Speaking of Apple, Thunderbolt’s new 20Gbps throughput paves the way for some potentially significant improvements to the company’s external displays, which haven’t been updated since the debut of the Thunderbolt Display in mid-2011.

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