What is Thunderbolt?

what is thunderbolt

Technology runs our lives. It is a tool that allows us to create and experience things that were previously impossible for some. This quintessential part of our society has developed greatly over the years, growing into something that enables us to live our lives to the fullest.

With the inspirational speech aside, it’s helpful to understand the tools that allow us to create and experience these wonderful things. Thunderbolt is a technology that is constantly stretching the hardware capabilities of how we can transfer data, becoming something that consumers search for when buying a new computer.

So what is Thunderbolt, and why is it so important?

The History

Thunderbolt technology (originally named “Light Peak”) was developed by Intel in the late 2000s to incorporate optical data into traditional data transfer methods (combining wire and fiber optics). This technology allowed for faster data transfer rates for these two methods, packaged nicely into one port.

Thunderbolt 1 was the first iteration of this. The transfer speed started out at 10Gpbs, using the same connector type as a Mini Displayport. The second version, which was released in June of 2013, was mainly to enable the transfer and display of 4K video files. This version doubled the previous’s speed, upping data transfer speeds to 20 Gbps, still using the Mini Displayport connector. Finally, Thunderbolt 3 started to ship in late 2015. Instead of fighting with the growing popularity of USB-C, Intel decided to join it. Now incorporated into USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 doubles the previous speed once more, now up to 40Gbps.

Benefits of Thunderbolt

Here are a few reasons you may want to consider investing in a computer with Thunderbolt capabilities:

  • Power Supply: Thunderbolt 3 supports up to 100 Watts of power transfer, charging everything from phones to laptops. This allows you to use the same charger for multiple devices, decreasing the number of things you need to carry with you on a daily basis.
  • Many Peripherals:Thunderbolt 3 allows you to connect up to 6 devices daisy-chained through a single port. This includes your typical keyboards and mice, but also monitors and graphics cards. This can help transform your laptop into a fully-fledged desktop.
  • Data Transfer:If you’re someone who transfers a lot of data physically from one source to another (like a photographer or videographer), then Thunderbolt 3 is the way to go, providing you with up to 40 Gbps of data transfer.
  • Multiple Displays:With Thunderbolt 3, you can connect two 4K 60Hz monitors through one port, allowing you to expand your productivity. Paired with a laptop, you can get 3 screens with only one port.

Thunderbolt 3 is a wonderful development for everyone, from those who enjoy video games to those who are creative professionals, and everyone in between. When choosing your next laptop, be sure to check if it has Thunderbolt 3. You won’t regret your decision.

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