Thunderbolt™ FAQs


Q: What is Thunderbolt?
A: Thunderbolt technology was designed to transmit data and video information over the same wire. Allowing simultaneous DisplayPort and PCI Express transactions across the single interface will minimize the number of discrete ports required by an ultra-slim device. Merging the high data-rate transfer interface with the external display interface requires less physical area for interconnect and a sleeker design. With 10Gb/s transfer rates it is 20X faster than USB 2.0 and 10x faster than FireWire. It was intended to simplify the connection of multiple peripherals to a Thunderbolt enabled compute platform.

Q: How many devices can I connect using Thunderbolt?
A: Six (6) devices can be connected in daisy chain fashion.

Q: Where can I buy Thunderbolt cables?
A: Thunderbolt cables are currently available from Apple and third parties in the 2nd half of 2012.

Q: What type of cable can be used for Thunderbolt?
A: There are two basic cable types; copper for short distances, up to 3m, and optical for up to 20m. By the end of 2012 100m optical cables will be available.

Q: How do I choose between Fibre Channel, SAS, Ethernet Adapters and Thunderbolt technology enabled devices?
A: If your intent is to purchase an ultra slim or all in one compute platform that is Thunderbolt enabled, you can use an ATTO Desklink to provide connectivity to either SAS/SATA, Fibre Channel or 10Gb Ethernet.

Q: Is Thunderbolt a proven technology?
A: Yes. Developed by Intel nearly 10 years ago as an optical interface, it has since been engineered to allow for copper cabling. Thunderbolt has been adopted by all of the top portable laptop, ultra slim, mini platform manufacturers. The manufactures either have or will have products in 2012. Thunderbolt will also start to appear on mid range server motherboards in 2013.

Q: Is it easy to connect devices to a system with Thunderbolt?
A: Thunderbolt makes it easy to add/connect peripherals to a system without changing an entire configuration. The technology preserves current investments and also maintains a platform for future growth.

Q: What are some typical Thunderbolt devices?
A: Types of Thunderbolt devices include storage devices that use hard disk drives, SSD's or tape drives, video monitors, transcoders and others. By using an ATTO desklink product users can connect their Thunderbolt enabled platform to a SAN, LAN and any device or platform that requires block or file level data using Fibre Channel, SAS/SATA or Ethernet.

Q: What Environments Use Thunderbolt?
A: Some typical environments include imaging, digital video capture/ingest, digital video and audio post production, data collection in field locations, data archive and restore as well as many others. These environments use portable, mobile or all in one computing platforms that are Thunderbolt enabled.

Q: What does Plug and Play mean?
A: Devices conforming to Plug and Play Thunderbolt specification - means that devices should work as soon as they are connected.

Q: What if I unplug the cable going to the ATTO Thunderbolt product
A: ATTO specifically developed OS X software drivers that are Thunderbolt aware which means in the event of a interruption/cable pull, the software driver will first sense there have been an interruption in the connection, continue to wait for the connection to be re-established, then resume operation once the cable is replaced. Note: if a cable is pulled while data is being transferred, there is a risk that data may be lost as a result.

Q: Can I mix different Thunderbolt devices on the same bus?
A: Yes. You can mix up to six data and video devices in the same daisy chain by simply connecting a Thunderbolt cable to each device through the available ports.



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