Intel Shows World’s First and Only Thunderbolt Flash Drive

Intel Foresees Flash Drives with Thunderbolt Interface

by Anton Shilov
06/06/2013 | 11:20 PM

Even though nowadays Thunderbolt interface can still be considered as exotics, Intel Corp., the developer of the interconnection technology, believes that one day it may become rather widespread. At Computex Taipei trade-show, the world’s largest chipmaker demonstrated a NAND flash drive with Thunderbolt interface. In theory, Intel’s prototype drive is the fastest flash drive in the world.


“This is one of the first thumb drives demonstrated using Thunderbolt connectivity, which is the fastest technology available to transfer data between computers and peripherals,”
said Oren Huber, a Thunderbolt engineer at Intel Israel, reports IDG News Service.

At the Computex Taipei 2013 trade-show, Intel demonstrated a key-shaped 128GB flash drive with Thunderbolt interface. The interconnection can transfer data at up to 10Gb/s speed (1.25GB/s), but Intel did not say whether the flash drive can actually take advantage of all the speed. Keeping in mind that performance-mainstream solid-state drive nowadays barely have 600MB/s transfer speed, the USB drive can hardly take full advantage of Thunderbolt.

Still, Intel’s 128GB Thunderbolt flash drive can clearly offer faster data transfers than almost any USB 3.0 solution available today since it, presumably, has a SanDisk iSSD (single-chip) inside with up to 450MB/s read speed and 350MB/s write speed.

Today, only Apple Mac systems and some advanced PC mainboards support Thunderbolt because it requires special chips available only from Intel. Should Intel integrate Thunderbolt support into its chipsets, or open-up the standard to third parties, the popularity of Thunderbolt will rise dramatically.

According to Intel, there has been some interest in building products based on the reference design of the flash drive with Thunderbolt interface. Keeping in mind that single-chip SSDs are pretty expensive, this may not be a bad start for a product that is clearly not going to be affordable.