Thunderbolt 2-picIntel has finally made Thunderbolt 2 official after talking about the new spec at NAB 2013. While adoption hasn't been nearly as high for Thunderbolt as it has been for USB 3.0, that hasn't stopped Intel from pushing development forward to much faster data rates. Originally a 10Gbps format, the new Thunderbolt 2 doubles the bandwidth to 20Gbps, or 2.5 Gigabytes per second. This will also mean good things for those trying to work with 4K video, as the newer format is made to support the viewing of 4K material.

Thunderbolt 2_Devices

Here is Intel on the announcement:

Named “Thunderbolt™ 2”, this next generation of the technology enables 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously – that’s a lot of eye-popping video and data capability. It is achieved by combining the two previously independent 10Gbs channels into one 20Gbs bi-directional channel that supports data and/or display.  Current versions of Thunderbolt, although faster than other PC I/O technologies on the market today, are limited to an individual 10Gbs channel each for both data and display, less than the required bandwidth for 4K video transfer. Also, the addition of DisplayPort 1.2 support in Thunderbolt 2 enables video streaming to a single 4K video monitor or dual QHD monitors. All of this is made possible with full backward compatibility to the same cables and connectors used with today’s Thunderbolt. The result is great news for an industry on the cusp of widespread adoption of 4K video technologies.

Professionals and enthusiasts alike will be able to create, edit, and view live 4K video streams delivered from a computer to a monitor over a single cable, while backing up the same file on an external drive, or series of drives, simultaneously along the same device daisy-chain. Backing up terabytes of data will be a question of minutes, not hours.

This is a big step for Thunderbolt, especially as USB 3.0 is set to catch up to the current spec sometime next year. 4K displays are going to become much more prevalent in the next few years, and if companies want professionals to be able to use the displays, it helps having more options to connect to them and output at maximum resolution and bit depth.

Just like with USB 3.0, the new Thunderbolt should be backwards compatible with the old spec, so cables should still work fine. Of course, just like with any transfer format, it can only be fast as its slowest bottleneck. We should start seeing support for Thunderbolt 2 by the end of this year, but full support probably won't come until sometime next year for all new Thunderbolt devices.

Link: Intel’s Thunderbolt™ 2 Doubles Bandwidth, Enabling 4K Video Transfer & Display

[via Apple Insider]