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Apple finally unleashed the real potential of Thunderbolt on Wednesday with their own $49 cable as well as RAID storage from Promise, and users have already been putting the technology through its paces to come up with some early anecdotes.
MacRumors is reporting on a pair of stories related to Thunderbolt I/O technology on the new MacBook Pro and iMac, now that Apple finally made available their own $49 cable on Wednesday, which debuted alongside four flavors of lightning-fast Promise Pegasus RAID storage starting at $999 for 4TB.
First up is the discovery by Arstechnica and iFixIt that Apple’s new $49 Thunderbolt cable actually contains not only small circuitry inside, but also the ability to be flashed with new firmware. Each cable contains a pair of Gennum GN2033 chips inside the connector, but there are a total of 12 chips as well as “tons” of smaller electronics.
“A source within the telecom industry explained to Ars that active cables are commonly used at data rates above 5Gbps,” the report reveals. “These cables contain tiny chips at either end that are calibrated to the attenuation and dispersion properties of the wire between them. Compensating for these properties ‘greatly improves the signal-to-noise ratio’ for high-bandwidth data transmission.”
Early Thunderbolt benchmarks show huge speed gains over the previous FireWire 800 I/O, and as it turns out, the Thunderbolt ports currently in use on the MacBook Pro and iMac are capable of using optical cables, should they eventually come. “Optical cables were part of the original plans for Thunderbolt which promises to offer much higher speeds,” MacRumors notes.
Finally, it appears that external Thunderbolt disks are also capable of booting a Mac, which was the subject of some early debate in the tech community. Apple themselves have avoid the question in their early support articles, but a number of independent reports confirm that booting over Thunderbolt works, with AnandTech having tested it with one of the new 12TB RAID systems from Promise.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Image courtesy of MacRumors)