Intel announces next generation Thunderbolt interface capable of 20Gbps speeds

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Intel has announced the next generation of the Thunderbolt interface that will be able to offer data transfer speeds of 20Gbps (Gigabits per second) in both directions, almost double of what the current Thunderbolt interface offers. The announcement was made during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The development was first reported by Engadget which also noted that the next generation Thunderbolt tech (which is code-named Falcon Ridge) offers simultaneous 4K video file transfer and display and runs at 20 Gbps. It's worth pointing out that 4K files would be much heavier than 1080p video files.

The new interface will be backward compatible with the previous generation Thunderbolt cables and connectors, which means that you'll be able to use them with devices that sport the new interface. Production will start in 2014, as per the report.

Intel claims that Thunderbolt has about 200 licensees, and greater number of compatible devices. It intends to launch new thinner cables in a few months.

For the uninitiated, Thunderbolt, which was code named Light Peak, is a hardware interface, developed by Intel in technical collaboration with Apple, that allows users to connect external devices including storage devices and display devices with one port. It combined both capabilities and offered more transfer speed than Firewire, which was a serial bus interface standard for high-speed communication, initiated by Apple.

The first device to ship with the Thunderbolt port was apple's 2011 MacBook Pro. Other high speed interfaces include USB 3.0 that offers transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps, which is more commonly found than Thunderbolt. The high cost of Thunderbolt prevented it from reaching the masses.

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