When Apple unveiled the new Macbook Pros in February, the included the new high speed transfer technology developed by Intel called Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt transfers data at 10 Gb/secs, this is incredible! The newest version of USB, USB 3.0, can only transfer data at half that rate, 5 Gb/sec. Neither technology are standard yet, since Thunderbolt just came out in February and USB 3.0 came out in late 2009. So naturally, there are very few devices that take advantage of the higher speeds of USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. USB 3.0 is starting to appear in higher-end computers, and the same is also true for Thuderbolt which has been adopted primarily by Apple and some other computer manufacturers. HP announced this week that they would not be putting Thunderbolt in any of their computers, while Apple is rumored to be adding Thunderbolt to all their computers in the near future.
Thunderbolt is not the successor to USB, although it is much faster than even the newest version of USB. Thunderbolt is more of the successor to Firewire as a higher-end data transfer technology. Thunderbolt is based on the mini-display technology and can be daisy chained up to 6 devices. With it’s high-speed data rate it is perfect for high-end data transfers such as video editing, video production as well as many other things. It can be used to capture uncompressed video and write data an external hard drive all from a single laptop. This can let you use a laptop as a all-in-one video studio which is traditionally a room full of equipment.
USB 3.o will most likely be widely adopted by all computer users, while Thunderbolt will be mostly used in the higher-end computers. I hope that Apple will add USB 3.0 eventually to their computers to give the users more options, and I think they will so that Mac users will have two options of high speed data transfer. Firewire will eventually fade away and get replaced by Thunderbolt because its the future of high-end data transfer.