Thunderbolt due for PC April 2012

Thunderbolt is on the loose... or it will be on PCs come next spring
Darren Allan

December 28, 2011
Intel Logo

Intel’s new I/O technology, Thunderbolt, will be available in PCs from April of next year.

That’s according to a report on DigiTimes, which claims that Intel has been speaking to PC manufacturers to put plans in place for the delivery next spring.

Thunderbolt is currently only available on Apple computers such as the MacBook and iMac, but the move to the PC assures it will be a serious rival to the USB 3.0 standard which established itself this year.

USB 3.0 is ten times faster than the standard USB 2.0 port – they’re the blue coloured ports you might have seen on new PCs and laptops.

However, Thunderbolt is twice as fast as USB 3.0 again, so twenty times as fast as the standard USB data transfer. Even large video files can be shifted pretty swiftly down Thunderbolt.

The technology also offers other benefits. Instead of having multiple ports on a machine, you’ll only need one Thunderbolt port as devices can be daisy-chained together, with only one actually plugged into the PC.

The Thunderbolt connection also combines Apple’s DisplayPort technology (which has become more widely available on PCs this year) with its data transfer, meaning it can also be used to plug in monitors as part of that daisy-chain. Pretty clever stuff.

The cost of incorporating Thunderbolt technology into motherboards has decreased, DigiTimes notes, and Sony, Asustek and Gigabyte are expected to be amongst the first companies to bring Thunderbolt to their high-end laptops and motherboards.

So the stage is set for a battle between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt next year. However, even Thunderbolted machines are going to carry USB 3.0 for some time, given that many existing peripherals will only be backwards compatible with USB 3.0.


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