Intel’s wicked-fast Thunderbolt interconnect has thus far been limited to Macs, but DigiTimes claims that will change next year. The site expects Sony to start offering Thunderbolt-equipped systems in 2012, and Asus will apparently integrate the technology into high-end notebooks. There’s also word that Gigabyte will put a Thunderbolt port on a motherboard in April of next year, probably as part of its Ivy Bridge lineup. The article specifically mentions Gigabyte adding Thunderbolt to compete with Asus and ASRock, which will presumably have similarly equipped mobos of their own.
Don’t expect Thunderbolt to take the market by storm, though. DigiTimes indicates that the required chip costs more than $20, which is about ten times the cost of the USB 3.0 controllers found on modern motherboards. DigiTimes’ sources say Thunderbolt will become cheaper to adopt, but not until the second half of next year. The price of the chip will have to fall precipitously for the technology to be viable for the sort of mid-range motherboards we prefer here at TR.
With USB 3.0 gaining in popularity, Thunderbolt faces an increasingly uphill battle. The SuperSpeed USB spec is more than fast enough for modern storage devices—SSDs included—and USB 3.0 ports are now available on even low-end systems and netbooks. The extra bandwidth offered by Thunderbolt has intriguing potential for other devices, but it could be a while before something comes out that makes Thunderbolt a must-have technology for PC enthusiasts.