Intel has announced that it plans to release an updated Thunderbolt controller which will double the transfer rate to 20Gbps, giving it a clear advantage over the upcoming USB 3.0 standard.
At the heart of the transfer rate boost is a new Thunderbolt controller codenamed Falcon Ridge. This new controller will be fully backward-compatible with existing hardware, including cables and connectors, but will offer compatible devices double the throughput currently offered by Thunderbolt.
20Gbps might seem like overkill, and for most people it is, but what the updated Thunderbolt standard will offer is what Intel are calling a "4K workflow." This will allow for 4K video file transfer to or from a storage device while simultaneously driving a 4K resolution display, all down a single cable.
This is aimed at high-end media professionals who have to juggle large amounts of data in the form of video. These people need all the power they can get — but it will likely come attached to a very weighty price tag.
20Gbps Thunderbolt could also pave the way for Apple to introduce Macs with 4K displays. These displays would have a resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels, four times that of 1080p high-definition video.
It is also likely that we will see much faster RAID storage devices, possibly featuring solid-state drives as opposed to the traditional hard drive.
Initial production of Falcon Ridge is expected to start before the end of 2013, with a ramp to full production scheduled for 2014.