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Newsletter "SEI NEWS" 2013

Home > Company Information > SEI WORLD > Back number > Vol.425

[Newsletter "SEI NEWS" Vol.425]

Thunderbolt Cables

Sumitomo Electric developed a Metal Thunderbolt Cable in 2011 and an Optical Thunderbolt Cable in 2012. These cables enhance work-efficiency, providing dramatic reduction of large-volume data transfer time.

■Product Data

Start of sales Metal: 2011
Optical: 2012
 

What are Metal and Optical Thunderbolt Cables?

Optical Thunderbolt Cables

Sumitomo Electric developed the Metal Thunderbolt Cable by incorporating its advanced electric wire technology and high-speed data transmission technology into the technical specifications for Thunderbolt technology*1 provided by Intel Corporation. This cable achieves bidirectional data transfer at an ultrahigh rate of up to 10 Gbps, more than 20 times that of the currently popular USB 2.0 data transfer system, and twice that of USB 3.0.

The company also developed the Optical Thunderbolt Cable through its expertise in optical fiber cable and module development, and released it in December 2012. The Optical Thunderbolt Cable converts electrical signals to optical signals and vice versa in the connectors installed at both ends of the cable, thereby enabling data transmission over a longer distance than via the Metal Thunderbolt Cable. The Optical Thunderbolt Cable is expected to expand the demand particularly in the field of video production and editing where long cables of up to 30 m are indispensable.

※1Thunderbolt technology
The Thunderbolt technology is a connection technology that enables data transmission at a high rate of 10 Gbps between personal computers, peripheral devices, and displays. This technology enables a cable to connect two or more devices in a daisy chain configuration.

 

What is the Thunderbolt Cable for?

The Thunderbolt Cable is mainly used to transfer large volumes of data between a Thunderbolt-based personal computer (PC) and peripheral devices.

As shown in the illustration, this cable can also be used to connect a maximum of six displays, hard disc drives (HDD), and other peripheral devices to a PC in a daisy chain configuration. Use of the Thunderbolt Cable eliminates the necessity for intricate branching of ports even when an increased number of peripheral devices are connected.

■Interview with engineer in charge
What are the difficulties in manufacturing the Thunderbolt Cables?

Mr. Wataru Sakurai, High-Speed Wiring Engineering Section, Harness Dept., Component Management Div., Sumitomo (SEI) Electronic Wire, Inc.

Today, 10 Gbps high-speed data transmission systems are widely used in data centers and other technical buildings for business purposes. However, their drawback is that the cables are thick and stiff. The cables for connecting household PC equipment should be soft/flexible and easy to use. To meet these requirements, we optimized the structure of the conductors and their arrangement in the cable. When developing the optical Thunderbolt cable that enables long-distance data transmission, we made efforts to realize a cable that will not break even when pinched, tangled or knotted, and therefore the user can handle it without particular concern that it is an optical cable.

What features of the Thunderbolt cables are well regarded by customers?

Regarding the metal Thunderbolt cable, the customers appreciate the rich lineup of 0.5 m to 3.0 m long cables because they can select a cable of optimal length for a specific usage environment. For the optical Thunderbolt cable, Sumitomo Electric received the world’s first certification from Intel Corporation. In the field of audiovisual production/editing where noise from PC, HDD, and other devices must be kept to a minimum, users highly evaluate the performance of this cable when connecting remote editing rooms and computer server rooms.

What is a new product you have recently developed?

We have developed a thinner metal Thunderbolt Cable that is easier to handle than the conventional cable. It is commonly believed that reducing cable size will deform the waveform of high-speed signals, hence the data transmission performance of the cable deteriorates. However, we could develop a thinner cable having the same performance as the conventional metal Thunderbolt cable by effectively employing our unique electric wire technology and a newly developed connector internal circuit. This new cable will go on the market in the near future.

Website http://global-sei.com/ewp/E/thunderbolt/

・Thunderbolt and its logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of US-based Intel Corporation in the USA and other countries.

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