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Goodbye, USB: Intel to release Thunderbolt developer kits

Thunderbolt-IntelIntel announced this week that it plans to release developer kits for its new Thunderbolt data transfer system, which will help greatly increase the number of Thunderbolt-compatible devices, and reduce the time it takes for such products to be made available to consumers, reports PC World.

The Thunderbolt system was originally debuted by Intel on February 24 of this year. Apple’s new line of MacBook Pro laptops are the first devices on the market that include ports for the high-speed connection.

Thunderbolt can support data transfers between devices, like a computer and an external hard drive, for instance, at speeds up of up to 10 gigabits per second. That is 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and twice as fast as USB 3.0, which can shuttled data at about 5Gbps. Thunderbolt’s speed means that an entire high-definition video could be moved from one device to another in only about 30 seconds.

Unlike previous data transfer systems, Thunderbolt uses light in place of copper wires, which allows information to be transferred much more quickly. Intel says that the system could eventually boast speeds of up to 100Gbps.

Canon announced last month that it is next in line to release devices loaded with Thunderbolt. The technology will reportedly only be available on the company’s video cameras, not DSLRs, at least at first.

Intel is said to have numerous other partners that are preparing to launch products armed with Thunderbolt. Those include companies such as Western Digital, Sonnet and BlackMagic. Sony is said to be a backer of Thunderbolt, but has not yet announced specific plans for the technology. HP, which offers USB 3.0 on its high-end laptops, is currently evaluating the data transfer system.

Apple is also reportedly developing a new type of 30-pin connector that will be compatible with both Thuderbolt and USB 3.0.

All of this points to an accelerated movement toward Thunderbolt as the computer industry’s standard transfer system. Of course, USB, the current leader, won’t disappear anytime soon. First, devices will support both USB and Thunderbolt, as Apple seems prepared to do. Eventually, however, the USB part will fall to the wayside, and we’ll be left with nothing but pure speedy goodness.