Intel showcased a flash drive connecting to the computer over Thunderbolt interface instead of the usual USB port. The stick with a capacity of 128 GB would be the fastest flash drive in the world. The Thunderbolt stick has the shape of a key and a size that can be compared to a normal USB flash drive with that capacity.
The drive is mainly a concept, according to Intel there are currently no plans to bring the drive on the market although there is some interest.
While the company claims that it’s the fastest flash drive, it has’t detailed any specifications except that it uses a Sandisk SSD inside. In theory the Thunderbolt interface is nearly twice as fast as USB 3.0. The latter has a maximum bandwidth of 4,8 Gbps, while Thunderbolt has a bandwidth of 10 Gbps. Intel has also announced Thunderbolt 2 which supports 20 Gbps and will become available in 2014.
While Thunderbolt is faster, it’s not widely available. Most Apple PCs are equipped with Thunderbolt ports but only a few PCs come with support for the technology. Also the amount of available Thunderbolt hardware is limited. Another drawback of the interface is the cost of the cables. A 2 meter cable from Apple costs $39.
Intel is nevertheless committed to make the interface a success and with this Thunderbolt flash drive it has shown that when it comes to speed, there’s no match. However when it comes to availability, price and ease of use, USB is here to stay, for now…