Thunderbolt Explained — What Does it Mean For Your Studio?
Over a quarter century ago — when Human League topped the charts, Ronald Reagan was president, the Mac Plus debuted, and Compaq started building computers with blazingly fast 16MHz CPUs — the FireWire interface was conceived. It came into prominence (along with USB) in the mid-90s, is still current, and will continue to serve us well for many years to come.But in today’s data-hungry world, where hard drives are measured in terabytes instead of megabytes, pro audio recording is trending toward higher resolutions, video is high-definition, and both audio and video streams must flow fluently throughout a system, the need to transfer huge amounts of data among computers and peripherals has become critical.Intel’s Thunderbolt™ protocol was devised with today’s rapacious data appetite in mind. However, if your first thought is, “I guess all my FireWire, USB, eSATA, Ethernet, and other interface-dependent devices are about to become doorstops — as well as my PCIe cards,” note that all of these can work with Thunderbolt. A basic Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter costs under $30 (as does a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter cable), and there are Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card boxes that accommodate full-length PCIe cards. So while Thunderbolt looks to the future, fortunately it doesn’t forget the past.
— Craig Anderton