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Apple releases $49 Thunderbolt cable, offers external RAID systems

Apple on Tuesday added a new $49 Thunderbolt high-speed data cable to its online store, as well as a handful of external RAID storage options starting at $999.

The new Thunderbolt cable measures 2 meters and supports the next-generation data port found on Apple's latest iMacs and MacBook Pros. Thunderbolt offers two independent channels of 10Gbit/s each.

The official Apple Thunderbolt cable allows users to connect Thunderbolt peripherals, but it can also be used for Target Disk Mode between two Macs. The cable can also be used to make a Thunderbolt-equipped iMac serve as a display for a new MacBook Pro.

Also available in Apple's online store are a handful of external RAID systems, all of which ship within 24 hours:

  • The least expensive option is the Promise Pegasus R4 with 4TB of data. It features four 1TB 7200-rpm drives delivering over 500MB/s of disk performance.
  • For $1,499, the Pegasus R4 can be doubled to 8TB, operating at the same 500MB/s.
  • For more speed, Apple offers the Promise Pegasus R6. It includes six 1TB 7200-rpm hard drives that deliver over 800MB/s of disk performance for $1,499.
  • Finally, the R6 can also have twice the storage with the 12TB offering, priced at $1,999.

Thunderbolt was launched in March, when Apple's new MacBook Pros went on sale. The technology, co-developed by Intel and Apple, utilizes the standard mini DisplayPort connector, but offers high-speed data transfers in addition to external monitor support.

Thunderbolt also appeared on the new iMacs launched in May, and is expected to rapidly appear on the rest of the company's hardware lineup. Tuesday's additions to the Apple online store mark some of the first Thunderbolt-capable accessories available for purchase.

Just last week, LaCie showed off a new Thunderbolt solid-state drive that it will release this summer. The system has two SSDs paired in a RAID 0 configuration offering read speeds of up to 870MB/s.

Though Apple cooperated with Intel on Thunderbolt, the technology is not exclusive to the Mac maker. This week, rival Sony showed off its own proprietary implementation of Thunderbolt, which will arrive on a new laptop in Europe this summer, dubbed the VAIO Z.