Intel will support USB 3 alongside Thunderbolt

Sat, Apr 16, 2011


Apple in late February announced a new line up of MacBook Pros. Chief among the many new touted features was a new transfer technology dubbed Thunderbolt, which was previously referred to as Light Peak. Indeed, with the ability to transfer data at 10GBps in both directions, Thunderbolt is as powerful as the greek god imagery the moniker tends to conjure  Though Thunderbolt is currently only an option on the MacBook Pro, rumor has it that Apple will systematically spread out that Thunderbolt functionality to its entire fleet of hardware, with the next-gen of iMacs believed to be next on deck.

But what about USB 3? Will that be completely supplanted by Thunderbolt?

Not to worry, it wont.

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs responded to a user email inquiring about USB 3 finding its way into the Mac. Jobs answered, “We don’t see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example.”

Oh that devious Jobs. You see, Thunderbolt was developed jointly by both Apple and Intel, which means that Intel was hardly in a rush to start implementing support for USB 3.

But Intel doesn’t see Thunderbolt as an exclusive competitor to USB 3, but rather views the technologies as being complementary, according to Kirk Skaugen, the VP of Intel’s Architecture Group who relayed the message at Intel’s developer conference in Beijing this past Wednesday.

That said, dual support for Thunderbolt and USB 3 will begin to appear in Intel’s next-gen chips, code named “Ivy Bridge”, which will hit the market in 2012.

Though USB 3 is markedly slower than Thunderbolt, Intel is encouraging developers to support both standards when designing peripherals such as printers, scanners, and cameras.

via CNET


AMD is not a fan of Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt in action: Transferring a 4GB file in a few seconds


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. jlin Says:

    One thing to note is that Thunderbolt is a PCI Express and Display Port interconnect, which means that it will most likely be able to accommodate USB 3 devices via a converter of some sort.

    Meaning that you’ll probably be able to plug your USB 3 devices (mouse, portable drive, tablets, etc) into you thunderbolt connector on the macbook pro via an adapter.

    For laptops, it makes sense to have one plug that works for everything since real estate is at a premium.

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