Report: Sony laptop to have hybrid Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 connector

Here comes a twist to the USB 3.0 vs. Thunderbolt fight for dominance. According to Engadget, Sony has jumped on the Thunderbolt bandwagon, but it’s not using the same connector type as Apple. Believe it or not, one of Sony’s upcoming Vaio laptops is said to feature a hybrid USB 3.0/Thunderbolt port.

The photo of the machine shows what looks like a plain-jane USB 3.0 port, but Engadget quotes a "trusted source" as saying that port also has some Thunderbolt juju going on. Apple, by contrast, pipes Thunderbolt through the same mini-DisplayPort connectors the company introduced with its aluminum MacBook laptops back in late 2008.

Now, having Thunderbolt and SuperSpeed USB go through the same connector isn’t an entirely novel idea. Engadget points out that Intel’s first Thunderbolt prototype (back when the interconnect was known by its code name, Light Peak) "combined a hybrid USB 3.0 connector with an optical interface and electrical connection to carry power." The USB Implementers Forum reportedly had some reservations about the matchup, but perhaps some sort of deal has been reached.

If this report turns out to be true, then it may only mean further fragmentation in the world of next-gen interconnects. I’m sure makers of port adapters are already popping champagne corks, though.

Comments closed
    • DrCR
    • 8 years ago

    Am I the only one bummed that they didn’t instead give us FireWire 3200?

    I use eSATA nowadays more often than not, but in the Apple world I still often use FireWire800. A very nice speed boost to the FireWire world would have been very welcome.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    whats even more amazing is that Sony baloney is still in the laptop business! How in the world are they surviving the bone crushing competition? other laptop manufacturers already have tablet line ups! all sony has is 1 e-reader.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    There must be a way to use wireless to transmit data at high speeds at ranges of < 1 meter. All of these cable manufacturers are pushing an obsolete technology.

    • Ushio01
    • 8 years ago

    I actually hope this is true as using the usb port means backward compatibility with all the usb devices I already own.

    As to fragmentation it’s simple mini DP for Apple and USB for everyone else.

    So now bring out a powered esata/usb3/thunderbolt port so i can connect all my usb2/esata/usb3 and future thunderbolt external HDD’s without having to worry about combatibility or having the right dongle.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Just going to be a super expensive option on top of other options…

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    Sony and Apple supporting the same external connectivity standard?

    Now we know for sure that Lightpeak will fail.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      As long at LP stays in Sony and Apple products, I guess I won’t have to worry about it at all. 🙂

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      I’ll let the pornography industry decide which standard to use, as always.

        • TaBoVilla
        • 8 years ago

        hopefully it’ll be compatible with my legacy equipment =)

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          I’ll give you my legacy equipment.

          • mutarasector
          • 8 years ago

          Hopefully it’ll have at least two port locations – one in the front, and one in the rear, and allows for ‘DP’ usage :_)

    • wobbles-grogan
    • 8 years ago

    Anyone else prefer the name light peak to thunderbolt?
    Maybe thats just me.

      • nico1982
      • 8 years ago

      Light Peak is definitely better, but Thunderbolt is more appropriate, since there’s no more light involved, just electricity. Intel will bring it out of mothballs once they re back on track 😛

        • Palek
        • 8 years ago

        I reckon they should just call the optical standard Lightning. Thunderbolt and Lightning. Then the high-speed wireless interconnect can be nicknamed Gallileo, followed by Figaro for the 2nd-gen version, and eventually culminating in Magnifico for whatever comes after that.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    oh goodie. No standard port and now we’re going to wind up with Thundabolt peripherals that can’t plug into all Thundabolt ports. You’ll need adapters, like 4-pin/6-pin Firewire 400. Good work, everyone, keep up the ASS-HATTERY!!

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      it’s the future. people NEED faster connnections. I don’t know what for.

        • DancinJack
        • 8 years ago

        That’s not what he’s complaining about, Josh.

        Really is quite dumb though.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          I understand he’s saying it’s dumb that they’re going with two different ports, 1 the displayport, the other USB, but I personally see little point in the tech at all, as usb 3 is fast enough imo, for current tech. I was just saying that i thought the whole thing was dumb, but you’re right, i did a crap job saying that.

          this is from tested: “Despite several sites reporting that one of the USB ports on the Ultimate Mobile PC is actually a Thunderbolt port, the claim is a little hard to believe. The USB’s governing body has previously stated that “USB connectors are not general purpose connectors and are not designed to be used in support of other technology applications or standards or as combo connectors.””

            • End User
            • 8 years ago

            “but I personally see little point in the tech at all, as usb 3 is fast enough imo”

            Nothing is “fast enough”. SSDs are hitting 500 MBs. If anything Thunderbolt is just fast enough for now.

            Thunderbolt extends PCIe and that offers way more that USB.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            I don’t agree. there’s such thing as a plateau. we’re pretty damn close. we can move a TON of data around, process it on the cheap, and it does what 99% of people need. I simply don’t agree that we NEED thunderbolt right now. USB3 is sufficient for the next few years, imo.

            • End User
            • 8 years ago

            I shudder to think where we would be if the visionaries of the tech industry thought like you.

            “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

            Wayne Gretzky

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            that’s great. he’s always been one of my favorite people. or not. if that’s the case my friend, then you shudder over something rather minuscule. i think you’ll have a hard time arguing that for 99% of people, usb 3.0 is fast enough. until we start moving 2500p movies around, it’s not going to really be noticeable to your average user. I didn’t say that it has no application whatsoever, i said that for your average consumer, usb is understood, easy, and fast enough. thunderbolt is confusing, more expensive, apparently not standardized, and slightly faster. it’s not worth the trade offs it requires. I don’t know why you think that’s a strange position.

      • mutarasector
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed. The potential fragmentation of Thunderbolt peripheral market necessitating adapters is making this look like ‘Firewire Redux’ even more so than I’ve stated before after Intel’s recent back-pedaling on Thunderbolt with their “complimentary with USB 3.0” statements.

        • Thresher
        • 8 years ago

        The worst part of it is that it’s not like Thunderbolt comes from a consortium that can’t agree on anything. Intel owns this and could dictate the connection method, but for some reason hasn’t.

          • mutarasector
          • 8 years ago

          Actually, I think Intel was pretty shrewd to ‘collaborate’ with Job’s Fruity Widget Company, and sort of use Apple as a trial balloon. I had mistakenly assumed Intel was giving a 1-yr exclusivity on TB to Apple, initially, but after Intel started getting more vocal about the ‘complimentary’ aspect of TB/USB, I saw the back-pedal right away and sort of suspected this might happen. I also predicted Sony might actually be a wild card in all of this, and so far it seems to be tipping that way.

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