Intel says prototype Thunderbolt flash drive is the world's fastest

By on June 6, 2013, 6:30 PM
intel, sandisk, storage, thunderbolt, ssd, computex, prototype, flash drive

Haswell is no doubt Intel’s bread and butter at this year’s Computex trade show but that of course doesn’t mean that’s all they are showing. Case in point is a new prototype thumb drive that uses Thunderbolt connectivity to produce what Intel says is the fastest technology available to transfer data between a computer and a peripheral.

The 128GB drive in question looks and feels much like a traditional USB flash drive. Inside, however, is a SanDisk solid state drive used to store data. The device connects to a computer using a standard Thunderbolt port and unlike most peripherals that use the interface, it doesn’t require any expensive data cables.

Thunderbolt technology has a rated speed of 10Gbps which is about twice as fast as USB 3.0 and worlds faster than the UBS 2.0 standard. Despite the massive speed increases, the technology has been slow to catch on. As of writing, only a handful of PCs are equipped with Thunderbolt ports (Apple’s Macs also carry the port) and there’s a limited number of peripherals on the market that use it – mostly monitors and some external storage drives.

The prototype drive is just that, for now. Thunderbolt engineer Oren Huber said there is some interest in building products based on the design but it’s unclear if that will ever come to fruition.

If you recall, Intel announced Thunderbolt 2 just yesterday as a follow-up to the current generation. The new interface will boost data transfer speeds to 20Gbps by combining two independent 10Gbps into a single 20Gbps bi-directional channel.




User Comments: 17

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m4a4 m4a4 said:

I thought the whole reason why it hasn't caught on very fast was the fact that it only deals with data, no power is supplied? (and hence why a commercial thunderbolt flash drive doesn't exist)...

treetops treetops said:

Or they can put a usb port on a phone...?

JC713 JC713 said:

Where is the power provided? Doesnt thunderbolt not transfer power?

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Where is the power provided? Doesnt thunderbolt not transfer power?

The port itself can supports up to 10W, according to wikipedia anyways.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Seems to me we could use a pro and con article between USB vs Thunderbolt. Couldn't hurt to clear up some misconceptions. I think @JC713 power question was spawn by my question in another thread.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Optical thunderbolt doesn't (currently) but copper does supply power as per Tekkaraiden's post.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I'll wait for USB "3.1". I'm in no rush for transferring data over current USB 3 connections. This prototype is using a mini SSD, so your first adopters would be the extreme enthusiast, if it were to come to market... and survive.

JC713 JC713 said:

Seems to me we could use a pro and con article between USB vs Thunderbolt. Couldn't hurt to clear up some misconceptions. I think @JC713 power question was spawn by my question in another thread.

I guess it shows that we all learn from each other xD.

misor misor said:

I hope wireless charging technology will be incorporated with wireless (data) transfer.

I'd love to have wireless mouse/headphone/cellphone without the need to manually recharge or use cable.

sukhwant singh said:

I have a little doubt. what is the use of that transfer speed I.e. 10 Gbps (1.2GBps). storage chip won't be able to store data with that speed. I think it won't be able to utilize full speed of usb 3.0 may be even 2.0.

storage chips have much less read and write speed. what do you think guys?????

1 person liked this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

I have a little doubt. what is the use of that transfer speed I.e. 10 Gbps (1.2GBps). storage chip won't be able to store data with that speed. I think it won't be able to utilize full speed of usb 3.0 may be even 2.0.

storage chips have much less read and write speed. what do you think guys?????

It's a mini SSD device. You can just put chips in parallel or widen buses for easy bandwidth gains to the memory, let alone all the other dev going into modern SSDs. Considering at least 3 generations of SSDs have saturated SATA 3 (I.e. 6gbps), I doubt 10gbps is going to last long before getting saturated. I'd expect sequential reads to already get close if not hit that limit.

TBH I think 10gbps as a milestone is a bit short sighted. Thunderbolt should have aimed for higher in the initial release.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Thunderbolt 2.0 out already? I haven't even greeted Thunderbolt 1.0 yet.

Guest said:

128 megs is too small. I want 10 tb thumb drive. Where is it. Also I want to copy the Pirate Bay in matter of seconds on there. Download the Pirate Bat at thunder bolt speeds.

Guest said:

I'm sure you can buy a Pirate bat in Pittsburgh.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

128 megs is too small. I want 10 tb thumb drive. Where is it. Also I want to copy the Pirate Bay in matter of seconds on there. Download the Pirate Bat at thunder bolt speeds.

It's 128GB.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

It's 128GB.

Not only that, but some people think that Thunderbolt is responsible for your download speed from your ISP.

Long live the Pirate Bat!

Guest said:

Oh and 128 gb isn't small?

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