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Intel shows off new 20 Gbps Thunderbolt spec with next year’s Falcon Ridge controller

Yesterday, Intel showed off the next generation of Apple's popular Thunderbolt protocol. Capable of transfer speeds of 20 Gbps, the new spec doubles the speeds of old Thunderbolt via channel aggregation, eclipsing rival technologies on the market.

Today, Intel announced the next generation of Apple's popular protocol 'Thunderbolt', which will be made possible by Intel's upcoming controller codenamed 'Falcon Ridge'. Falcon Ridge, the successor of 'Redwood Ridge' – another upcoming Thunderbolt controller – will be produced in 2014.

The new Thunderbolt will be double the speed of the old Thunderbolt which, in turn, is a much faster protocol than other popular choices such as USB, FireWire, and eSata. Clocking in at 20 Gbps (or 2.5 GBps), the new Thunderbolt is so fast that even state of the art hardware can't fully support it.

USB, which is the favored protocol of off-the-shelf hardware, only goes up to 5.0 Gbps in its fastest 3.0 standard. Many devices still run using USB 2.0, which only tops out at 480 Mbps (or about 0.468 Gbps)!

At NAB 2013, where Intel showed off a silicon prototype of the Falcon Ridge technology, two modern Solid State Drives (SSDs) were daisy chained together, and achieved transfer speeds of 1.2 Gbps to a desktop computer. Given that SSDs are the fastest hard drives on the consumer market, the new Thunderbolt won't need to be rivaled for quite a while.

With such extraordinary transfer speeds, Falcon Ridge will be able to transfer 4K video, which is the next in the name of high definition content. While such content is uncommon at the moment, it is always necessary for technology to prepare for the future – though, Intel may or may not be overdoing it.

Brandon Shutt
Brandon is an A+ certified technician and freelance writer living in East Tennessee. He loves God, writing, science (especially technology) and philosophy. He is currently preparing to enter the field of information security.

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