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Upgrading and Repairing PCs (21st Edition)
Upgrading and Repairing PCs (21st Edition), by Scott Mueller (Que Publishing), starting at $33.88
Home » Motherboard » Bus
Everything You Need to Know About the Thunderbolt Connection
Author: Gabriel Torres
Type: Tutorials Last Updated: June 21, 2012
Page: 2 of 2
Cables and Connectors

As mentioned, the Thunderbolt connection uses a mini DisplayPort (mini DP) connector. In Figure 3, you can see a Thunderbolt port on a motherboard.

Thunderbolt port on a motherboard
click to enlarge
Figure 3: Thunderbolt port on a motherboard

There are two types of Thunderbolt cables: electrical or optical. Electrical cables can be anywhere between 4 inches and 9.8 feet (10 cm to 3 m) long, while optical cables can be between 32.8 feet and 65.6 feet (10 m to 20 m) long. The use of one kind of cable or the other will depend on the cable length you want.

One advantage of the Thunderbolt connection is that both electrical and optical cables use the same connector type, the mini DisplayPort (mini DP). This is an electrical connector, so optical cables have circuitry at both ends to convert electrical signals into optical signals and vice versa. This circuit is available inside the rectangular box where the connector is attached. See Figure 6. Because of that, optical cables will not be inexpensive.

Thunderbolt electrical cable
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Thunderbolt electrical cable

Thunderbolt optical cable
click to enlarge
Figure 5: Thunderbolt optical cable

There is an electrical-to-optical converter inside these boxes
click to enlarge
Figure 6: There is an electrical-to-optical converter inside these boxes

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