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Thunderbolt Announcement: Why it is good for Consumers and SMBs

Intel today announced, Thunderbolt, a technology that allows a user to connect multiple devices with only one cable with a bi-directional transfer rate of 10 Gbps. Now, that is a massive speed and certainly takes the pain and guessing game away from finding the right cables to fit into their relevant slots acoss devices. Imagine a case where a PC is connected to a TV to a printer to a storage device to a phone - all with the same cable and with almost instantaneous data transfer.

It is certainly a very excitement development. However, I feel it is several years out in its full adoption, implementation and pervasiveness. In a world that is increasingly becoming wireless do we still need cables? Why would I want to stream my music or video to my TV through a cable? But no, no. I feel that wireless is becoming important but not all devices are suitable for wireless connections. Wireless transfer rates of 10 Gbps at consumer level are still far out. But would it not be nice. At my home, or even in the office, behind the TV stand or the desk are hiding plethoras of cables gathering dust. Such tangled cables are also known to be bad feng-shui.

If we understand correctly, using Thunderbolt, all the cables can be replaced in one uniform daisy chain. Would that not be nice? It would be.  But only now we are all learning the use of HDMI and probably USB 3.0 and not all devices have them. What about legacy systems that are still in use? And there are many and will remain so for many years. Especially, in the case of SMBs where devices and form factors get amassed organically with no one clear overhaul.

Nevertheless, I am rooting for the technology. However, Intel will have to move very fast to get device-makers on board. Granted it may be expensive to begin with but such pricing becomes secondary when wide adoption begins.

WiGig is also coming into play with data transfer rates of 7 Gbps and Intel is among its board members. To those who say that WiGig will win, I say, wait and watch, both Thunderbolt and WiGig will co-exist. With Apple taking the lead in the introduction of Thunderbolt it is definitely a defining moment which many will take note of, especially the eco-system that thrives around Apple.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle
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