Posted by: Harold Ennulat | November 4, 2013

Thunderbolt To Replace USB & Firewire?

ThurderboltCable296113We are starting to see computers and peripherals coming out with the Thunderbolt interface included.  This interface supports data rates up to 20 gigabits per second.  Impressive speed!

The connector is a Mini DisplayPort connector and so is sized to fit in portable devices.

It looks like the price point is in line with USB solutions.  This raises the question “Will Thunderbolt replace USB, Firewire and eSATA?”  While these interfaces will likely co-exist for years to come, Thunderbolt seems poised to dominate, especially with so many manufacturers now offering this interface in their products.

See Below or click to enlarge

See Below or click to enlarge

This interface handles both data and video content and can route data or video streams directly to the proper hardware channels.  This means that you can hook a compatible monitor directly to this port, or you can connect a compatible hard drive for data connections to this same port.  It will be interesting to see if interface devices start to show up that convert signals from one interface type to another, so that a smart phone with a USB connection can be plugged in a computers Thunderbolt port.  This won’t be something that will be needed soon for USB devices, as the new line of computers still have USB ports as well.  However the option for eSATA and FireWire ports might diminish fairly quickly, especially if converters do become readily available for these more specialized needs.

It would seem prudent to be looking for this interface in your next PC, laptop, or high-end tablet device.


Here is a collection of images that describe the interface in some detail.


Performance Comparison with USB, Firewire, and eSATA:



A Conceptual View:



The Architecture:


Click on images to enlarge


Connector Details:



For additional details see the Wikipedia article on Thunderbolt.  This article provides additional specifications, details on the pin outs, and the history of this interface.


|  Created: 10/30/2013 1:14pm CST; Edited 10/30/2013 2:29pm CST:

for Publishing on 11/4/2013 at 5:00 am CST



  1. Interestingly, this technology has not become universal. USB 3.0 and display port are competing technologies. USB 3.0 still seems to be the number 1 local interface.

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