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Use Speedy Thunderbolt Hardware for Faster Data Transfers

Looking to add some speed to your rig's storage gear? Thunderbolt is ready to take you to new heights.

After a splashy introduction nearly a year-and-a-half ago, Intel's Thunderbolt interface has had a slow trek to PCs. Finally, however, Intel-based motherboards are appearing with this highly anticipated input/output interface onboard. And various options are here or are coming soon that will give you some choice in how you to implement Thunderbolt to maximum advantage.

Intel began developing Thunderbolt back in 2009, but the technology has evolved dramatically since its conception at Intel Labs and its formal introduction last year.

Today's Thunderbolt can deliver up to 10 gigabits per second across Thunderbolt's two channels. You can split bandwidth across up to seven devices, since Thunderbolt--like FireWire 800 before it--supports daisy-chaining. Thunderbolt also supports both the PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort protocols.

Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter

This $100 add-on works with any Seagate portable GoFlex hard drive. Used with a $50 Thunderbolt cable, the adapter lets you retrofit the GoFlex drive to move data faster. Seagate sells a $190 adapter for its external desktop drives, too.

Asus P8Z77-V Premium

The first Intel-certified motherboard to carry a Thunderbolt connector is Asus's P8Z77-V Premium.

Introduced last year and available on Apple MacBook Pro laptops, Thunderbolt supports transfer speeds that can reach 10 gbps--more than twice as fast as USB 3.0. And you can daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt drives together for more speed.

Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo

WD's Thunderbolt MyBook Duo brings a 4TB (for $600) or 6TB (for $700) dual-drive configuration to your desktop for lightning-fast data transfer speeds.

The Duo supports RAID 0 data striping; RAID 1 mirroring; and an array of directly accessible independent drives.

Drobo Mini

Compact and powerful, the $650 (without drives) Drobo Mini accommodates four 2.5-inch drives, and has a USB 3.0 port, too.

Components are readily accessible and snap into place easily; and BeyondRAID technology offers users single- or dual-drive redundancy.

Buffalo Technology MiniStation Thunderbolt HD-PATU3

Buffalo Technology's $240 MiniStation Thunderbolt HD-PATU3 packs 1TB of storage in a compact, portable chassis.

The HD-PATU3 is the first Thunderbolt drive to come configured with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports on board. Even better: Both of the needed cables are included in the package. However, the Thunderbolt version of this product is preformatted to work only with Macs.

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