Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Apple's Thunderbolt technology

I’ve always hate it when Apple introduces new products. 

Because inexplicably they always roll out something awesome (even if it is just an update to a certain product line) and it makes me want to buy it (perhaps that is how they made 6 billion in PROFIT last quarter - people like me). To say Apple has some of the loyalist customer base is probably a massive understatement. I am still waiting for the next iPhone to drop come June on the Verizon network so I can finally complete my Apple "quadfecta” (iPod, iPad, Macbook Pro + iPhone). 

Anyways, yesterday Apple updated their entire computer notebook line with the new second generation Intel Core processors (which is endorsed by the lovely Girls' Generation - http://bit.ly/hXrsWc), with quad core processors available in the 15in and 17in monitor size models. Finally, desktop grade computer power is available in a mobile machine. It complete crushes my current Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo model, with up to 50% more number crunching power. In fact in some cases these new laptops are even faster than some models of Apple's Mac Pro desktop line, which is quite a leap.

I need one. 

I am a big multi-tasker with my computers, which at any point in time have at least 10 programs open, and 20+ tabs on my chrome browser. Add in a splash of photo and editing and my Macbook Pro quickly gets bogged down (I also need more ram). The new Macbook Pros that were introduced yesterday will fit the bill very nicely. But that being said I am sane enough not to be suckered into the consumer technology refresh cycle, where the thing you bought today will be obsolete tomorrow forcing you to get the new model. I am indeed going to tough it out a couple more year with my current Macbook Pro. It is still plenty fast to be honest, but man digital photo files are not getting smaller and the programs to edit them are not getting any simpler either. 

I already have a mac notebook. No need for another one. Sometime in the future I will get myself a Mac Pro. That will serve all my creative and multimedia needs. Until then, hey I still love my Macbook Pro more than any other PC laptop out there. 

So, not getting a new mac notebook, but yesterday's announcement also bought to the consumer world something called the "Thunderbolt" port. I am sure everybody is familiar with USB (and how you always have to guess whether you orientated it correctly... it is like flipping a coin). Think of the thunderbolt port as another USB - but MUCH faster. It has twice the speed of the just recently introduced USB3 standard. What does this mean for creative professionals and amateurs like myself? Revoluntionary.

RAW digital photos takes up a lot of space - on the camera and thus on the computer as well. Transferring from the camera to the computer also takes some time because the current USB and Firewire cables only goes so fast. Thunderbolt cables and ports will change that because it is so fast that file transfers will be instantaneous. No more waiting for things to transfer before you can start your editing work. And not only digital photography, videography also. HD movie files are absolutely huge, and thunderbolt will make transferring them from camera to computer a trivial matter. There is one caveat though, is that camera manufacturers must start making cameras that has a thunderbolt port in order for this technology to work. 

Another promise that thunderbolt will bring is that finally, creative people can finally do their work off an external harddrive. Current transfer technology does not allow a fast enough connection for people to do digital work with files out of an external harddrive connected to a computer. The speed is just to too slow, and the workflow will be slowed down by waiting for bits to load all the time. Some can tolerate this for digital photography, but HD video editing? Forget about it.

But with an external harddrive that has a thunderbolt port, the bottleneck will be gone. In demos, Intel showed that with a thunderbolt external harddrive can stream 4 uncompressed HD footage at the same time. This kind of throughput and speed will save a lot of time for digital creative professionals. Because face it, digital files are not getting smaller, and most of us own laptops, so the size of the ONE harddrive can only be so large. External hard drives are a way of life (heck, I have 7 of them). If the thunderbolt port can bring instaneous kind of transfer speeds, I think it will revolutionize everybody's work flow and file storage paradigms.

It will take at least another year for thunderbolt ports to be completely mainstream, but once it does the benefits will be enormous. I cannot wait to get my hands on some cameras and computers with such technology.