It’s Thunderbolt time

Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a blinding flash of lightning – an abrupt crash of thunder so shocking and amazing it creates mayhem for the populous below.

No, wait. It’s Thunderbolt: a new generation of fast computer connectors.

Is Thunderbolt the new superhero of the computing world? It has everything – the cape, mask and fancy pants. Well, OK, not the pants.

Rejoice computer people, you get to buy yet another adapter for your PCs. Yeah.

Actually, Thunderbolt is a very fast connection for nearly everything on your computer. Attach multiple monitors, USB devices, printers, PCIe Express devices and even virtual reality (VR) headsets. Thunderbolt can handle the workload.

According to PC Magazine, Thunderbolt lets you transfer data at up to 40Gbps. That is twice as fast as the 20Gbps maximum throughput speed of the fastest USB-C ports and four times as fast as the original Thunderbolt interface.

“Not only can a Thunderbolt 3 (Now 4-ed) port help you transfer data to and from a compliant external hard drive more quickly than a plain USB-C port, but it can also unlock additional capabilities for connecting external monitors and expansion docks,” PC Mag said. “A USB-C port with support for Thunderbolt 3 means that a single cable is all you need to push power and transfer a large amount of information (such as video data for two or more 60Hz 4K external monitors) to and from a computer.”

Thunderbolt 4 is featured in Intel’s CPU products. “Thunderbolt 4 ports have been designed to make connecting devices easier, keeping your gaming space neat and manageable, freeing up ports for wider availability and allowing you to connect all the devices you want without complications,” according to Intel.

Yup, faster than a speeding bullet.

New PCs with Intel CPUs are now supporting Thunderbolt natively. That means the engineers at Intel put the circuit right into the CPU, so no extra chips are required. This design integration is a powerful force for wide adoption of the technology.

Thunderbolt connectors are small, oval-looking adaptations created by a cable or adapter to work with a standard USB-C output. It looks like a USB with a rider on top.

The mighty power of multiple data paths generates easy and insanely simple connections for multiple monitors. Go buy a Thunderbolt computer and a few new monitors to go with it. Ask for it by name.

According to Wikipedia, technically Thunderbolt is “the brand name of a hardware interface developed by Intel (in collaboration with Apple) that allows the connection of external peripherals to a computer. Thunderbolt 1 and 2 use the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP), whereas Thunderbolt 3 re-uses the USB-C connector from USB. Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into two serial signals and additionally provides DC power, all in one cable. Up to six peripherals may be supported by one connector through various topologies.”

See, I told you it had a cape.

William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to