Thunderbolt Port: What It Really Means for You

Thunderbolt Port: What It Really Means for You

Jesse Leikin
Apr 13, 2011

When Apple and Intel released the Thunderbolt technology a few months ago, it was met with much fanfare. But how many of us know what this technology offers? Since then many manufactures, including Canon, have committed to including the port on future products. With theoretical speeds of 10gb/s up and down, we will tell you the truth behind this promising technology, and let you know the best ways to take advantage of it today...or if you even really need it.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that despite being included on the majority of Apple's new computers, most normal consumers won't be able to fully take advantage of the unbelievable speeds that the Thunderbolt technology offers. This is because if using the port to transfer from one drive directly to another, the limiting factor would be the hard drives read/write speeds, which means that the 10gb/s speeds won't be achieved.

However, if you happen to be a tech savvy person (and you presumably are since you read Unplggd), then there here are a few ways that you can take advantage of the speedy Thunderbolt port.

1. Raid Drive.
While a single hard drive might be the limiting factor, a RAID solution takes advantage of multiple drives in order to increase speed and performance. This is great for anyone who needs to do large system back ups or anyone looking to do intensive video editing. If this is you, check out the LaCie Little Big Disk, which is ready to go out of the box.

2. Connect to a Second Display
A more common use for the Thunderbolt port will be for attaching a second monitor or even a TV to your computer. Because of the incredibly high data transfer speeds, both video and sound can simultaneously be sent to another display with high definition quality and only one cable.

3. Daisy Chain Devices
If you have a Thunderbolt capable Mac, you will notice that there is only one port on the computer itself. The reason for this is that the Thunderbolt technology has the ability to daisy chain multiple devices together. What this means is that each device essentially becomes an extension cord for another device to attach to it. And with 10gb/s speeds, lag between the devices will be non-existent.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user lightning_todd)

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