Intel has released further details of the next generation of Thunderbolt, the high-speed hardware interface it originally developed with Apple. Thunderbolt 2 doubles data transfer rates to 20 Gb/s which, with the incorporation of DisplayPort 1.2, will allow the transmission of raw 4K video as well as data.
The current Thunderbolt standard has two separate 10 Gb/s copper channels: one for data and one for video. But 10 Gb/s is insufficient for streaming 4K video. For Thunderbolt 2, Intel has combined the two into a single two-way channel cable of devoting necessary bandwidth to video, and using the rest for data.
Intel says that, by daisy-chaining hardware, it will be possible for users to simultaneously view and back up 4K video files on an external storage device via a display. "Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours," the company says. And it appears that Intel is already thinking about Thunderbolt 3. "[O]ur labs aren't stopping there, as demand for video and rich data transfer just continues to rise exponentially," says Intel's Thunderbolt Marketing Director, Jason Ziller.
Thunderbolt 2 will be backwards-compatible, so Thunderbolt hardware will continue to work when connected to or through Thunderbolt 2 connectors and cables. Production is scheduled to begin before the year's end.