What Is a Thunderbolt Port?


Quick Answer

The Thunderbolt Port is an input-output technology developed by Intel in cooperation with Apple. The technology combines DisplayPort and PCI Express into a single connection to link up to six peripherals together. The Thunderbolt Port supports high-performance data devices and high-resolution displays through a single connection.

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Full Answer

The Thunderbolt Port utilizes PCI Express technology to bridge the high-performance components of a Mac computer. This technology is built into the Thunderbolt Port to sync and transfer high-performance external devices between Mac devices. Thunderbolt provides two channels with uniform 10Gb/s (20 Gb/s for the Thunderbolt 2) connections in both directions. These speeds allow users to transfer data to and from external devices up to 25 times faster than with FireWire 800 and up to 40 times faster with an advanced USB connection.

As of 2014, Thunderbolt technology is compatible with the MacBook Pro (2011 and later), the MacBook Air (mid 2011 and later), the iMac (mid 2011 and later) and the Mac Pro (late 2013). The Thunderbolt 2 port is compatible with the MacBrook Pro (late 2013 and later), the Mac Pro (late 2013), the iMac (late 2014) and the Mac mini (late 2014).

Thunderbolt’s combination of PCI Express and DisplayPort technologies support a high connection of storage devices, RAID arrays, video capture solutions and high-res monitors.

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