Developed by Intel, the high-speed Thunderbolt interface was introduced in Apple computers and now has reached the PC realm as well. The following can be listed as its advantages:
- Bidirectional dual-channel data transfer at a rate up to 10 Gbps
- Transfer of data and video via a single cable using PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols
- Daisy-chaining up to six devices, including two monitors, to a single host connector
- Compatibility with existing DisplayPort products
- Low latencies and high synchronization precision
- Uses existing PCI Express and DisplayPort drivers
- Powers devices via the interface cable (in case of electrical rather than optical cables)
Thus, one connector – not even some new connector but the well-known mini-DisplayPort – can substitute a number of connectors that currently serve different purposes. This is especially important for mobile devices as they can be made even more compact. Using one cable up to 3 meters long, several peripherals can concurrently receive and send data at a very high speed. Optical cables can be used to increase the distance up to 50 meters, but they can’t power the connected device. With ordinary cables, Thunderbolt can provide up to 10 watts of power to the peripheral.
With so many advantages, it is no wonder that the list of compatible products has been incessantly getting longer. It now includes all kinds of devices: monitors, notebooks, audio and video capture devices, storage devices, and Thunderbolt-enabled mainboards from every major maker. We reviewed one such mainboard, Intel DZ77RE-75K, but couldn’t benchmark its Thunderbolt performance due to the lack of appropriate peripherals. Fortunately, a lot of various Thunderbolt compatibles were announced at Computex in June 2012 (you can download the pdf-file, 4.4 GB for more information), the Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt series being among them. So, this review is about one external disk from that series. It called Buffalo MiniStation Thunderbolt HD-PA1.0TU3.