Apple Unleashes Thunderbolt

Apple Unleashes Thunderbolt

Presumably, yesterday’s Final Cut Studio news was just a teaser from Apple for the barrage of important dynamic media related announcements the company unleashed today. Here’s a summary in reverse order of importance for those of us who create media for a living.

New MacBook Pros – Apple introduced a new line of sleek laptops in their traditional 13”, 15” and 17” form factors. These promise to be some of the fastest and most technologically advanced personal computers ever and include some never before seen features

Quad-Core CPU’s – While the 13” MBP sports a pretty darn fast Intel Dual-Core i5 processor, in their 15” and 17” models, Apple has for the first time ever released laptops with blazingly fast Intel Quad-Core CPU’s.

Turbo Boost 2.0 – With these new processors Intel has integrated Turbo Boost 2.0, a technology that monitors system conditions and allows processors to run faster than their advertised speed. Translated, with Turbo Boost 2.0 the maximum clock speed for the 2.0Ghz machine has a theoretical maximum speed of 2.9Ghz and the 2.2Ghz processor maxes out at 3.2Ghz.

Thunderbolt – To me, Thunderbolt, an I/O  technology developed jointly between Apple and Intel is really the most significant news of the day. From Apple’s website:

“With 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions, Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data to and from peripherals up to 20 times faster than with USB 2.0 andmore than 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. Two 10-Gbps channels on the same connector mean you can daisy-chain multiple high-speed devices and a display, without using a hub — and without reducing performance.”

Thunderbolt is Apple’s implementation of Intel’s “Light Peak” technology and if widely adopted, it has the potential to be a true game changer across the entire media creation and delivery spectrum. The reasons; cost and speed. Thunderbolt’s 10Gb per second transfer rate is more than double that of 4Gbps (gigabytes per second) fiber channel, the protocol used on very expensive high-end storage networks, (think networks for motion picture and television post production).

The availability of this type of power, at a fraction of the cost of today’s most popular solutions, is a watershed moment for those of us who have had to make big investments in hardware and complicated network configurations necessary for data intensive types of workflows.

On the consumer side, (the mass market where the obvious big money is) Apple and Intel hope this technology takes off in the home media space; connecting HDTV’s, music players, media centers, and home networks affordably and easily.

Back on the commercial side, companies such as storage vendor Promise Technology are expected to announce compatible products that will ship as soon as this spring. And digital media hardware and software manufaturers such as Avid, Blackmagic, AJA, Apogee and Universal Audio have all indicated support for Thunderbolt in future versions of their products.