Report: Thunderbolt on 10% of new motherboards and notebooks

According to DigiTimes’ sources in the supply channel, Thunderbolt has infiltrated about 10% of new PC motherboards and notebooks. There’s no indication of whether it’s 10% for each category or if that’s just the overall average, but either way, the percentage is quite low. Not that we’re surprised. Thunderbolt devices remain relatively rare in the wild, and compatible cables still cost around $50.

Equipping a notebook or motherboard with Thunderbolt is also expensive. The controller chip rings in at around $20, DigiTimes says—quite a bit more than USB 3.0 controllers, which cost less than a dollar each. With USB 3.0 proving fast enough for most folks’ external storage needs, it’s hard to see a place for Thunderbolt outside of niche markets.

Right now, the interconnect’s most promising consumer application is as a conduit for peripheral expansion in ultra-slim mobile systems that have little room for extra ports and peripheral chips. Thing is, you can’t actually buy any Thunderbolt docking stations yet. Matrox’s DS1 isn’t shipping until next month, and Belkin’s offering has been delayed until 2013.

For enthusiasts, Thunderbolt’s biggest appeal may be its ability to connect a powerful external graphics adapter to a thin-and-light notebook. Unfortunately, none of the external graphics prototypes we’ve seen appear destined for production. That’s really a shame, because I’d be inclined to pay a premium to get Thunderbolt in a notebook if it meant I could plug in a proper graphics card.

Comments closed
    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    The dearth of Thunderbolt devices is disappointing but the tech is solid (really awesome for laptops and small form factor PC’s).

    I’m looking forward to:

    – breakout PCIe box
    – 2.5″ RAID box
    – 2.5″ drive enclosure
    – 10 gigabit ethernet adapter
    – Thunderbolt data stick

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    You can do the whole docking thing with PCI-E. That aside I’d like to see a PCIE dock pop up. I really don’t know who would make it though. It’s sort of out of the range of case makers, although it definitely would be part of a case. It’s sort of half a motherboard, but not completely one. I guess that would leave it to fall into the hands of laptop makers, which is the way it always has been.

    But as such that has lead there to be almost no docking stations, for them to be overpriced (I can’t even find one for my laptop even though I can use one), and of course they aren’t standardized. I really hope some big maker will eventually catch onto this. I think it would take a slightly bigger initiative then just someone who wants to make a dock though. While PCIE is supposedly plug-n-play compatabile, I don’t know how well it would actually work in practice. Has anyone ever tried plugging a video card into a running computer? I don’t think it would go nearly as well as I’d hope.

    So obviously some cleanup would have to be done. That would either fall into the hands of microsoft or device manufacturers. Maybe there is some sort of standard I don’t know about that isn’t used that is already built in? Maybe they’d just work?

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      They are engineering-style solutions out there, but definitely [b<]not[/b<] for consumers. For people that like to tinker with their notebooks though, start at [url<]http://www.hwtools.net[/url<], then get scared. I will warn you, if you can't figure it out with some self researching, don't bother. (there are no all encompasing "guides" per se, and lots of detailed considerations that have to be accounted for: think along the lines of linux from the mid 90s, before it got a [i<]lot[/i<] easier. There is an egpu forum on NBR though)

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I actually looked into upgrading my graphics card. MXM slots exist on some, not all notebooks. Which are really cool. I wish most laptops would use them. Unfortunately they use a bios whitelist, so even if the graphics card is physically compatible (which they are if they adhere to the mxm standard), it still wont work unless you hack your bios.

        Still hoping for a standardized dock with PCIE connectivity. I’m surprised one hasn’t been standardized already.

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        Very cool site, thanks for the link. Now time to buy some Intel WiFi cards + adapters!

    • hiro_pro
    • 7 years ago

    thanks. i’ll put my thunderbolt connector on a shelf next to my betamax, firewire, laser disk player and other obsolete tech that never took off. it sounds like it will be easier to just wait for a usb 4.0 connection that has similar fiber speed.

    its a shame too because you should be able to drive a displayport monitor with a thunderfart connection.

      • LostCat
      • 7 years ago

      And USB4 will still be inappropriate for interactive connections like Kinect.

    • brute
    • 7 years ago

    the ladies are more impressed by the lightning rod than the thunder bolt . just talking about peripherals here.

      • rrr
      • 7 years ago

      Do the ladies you’re trying to impress bark or meow?

        • brute
        • 7 years ago

        im intrigued that you would think a human needs to impress a dog or cat.

        just how ugly are you?

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    I still couldn’t care less nor feel the need to have/use thunderbolt.

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Firewire Part Deux:

      -Has some very limited benefits compared to other standards
      -Peripherals are massively overpriced for actual parts inside, which are usually no different anyways (sup hard drives, hows it hangin?)*
      -Number of devices actually plugged into computers is outnumbered by global port count >100:1**
      -Never goes mainstream
      -Gets stuck on every apple
      -Sony likes it (kiss of death)
      -Popular with anyone else trying to overprice a boutique item with feature bloat
      -Refuses to die, but nobody cares

      *conversely, external usb drives are sometimes cheaper than bare drives, even in a few cases where the model inside is [u<]exactly[/u<] the same! crazy **usb is like 1 port per 3 devices or something absurd thanks to [s<]50[/s<] [s<]60[/s<] [s<]70[/s<] infinity billion cell phones all switching to it [edit]need more edits[/edit]

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Sony likes it (kiss of death)[/quote<] I don't think Sony has ever sold a Thunderbolt equipped product (and no, that VAIO Z from 2011 did not have a Thunderbolt port)

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]-Has some very limited benefits compared to other standards[/quote<] Limited benefits? How about the benefit of it being up to handle pretty much any I/O task that it is asked to do?

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    And yet, for the average consumer, there is still no use for it.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      I’m surprised it’s that many, I’ve yet to see any non-Apple notebooks with Thunderbolt and only a handful of motherboards that have the option. 10% is far higher then I’d have expected.

        • continuum
        • 7 years ago

        Ditto. 10%? That high?

          • designerfx
          • 7 years ago

          actually more important:

          put into 10% doesn’t = 10% were even bought.

          So, basically people are skipping 9% of the motherboards (because surely 1% buys this stuff)

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 7 years ago

        As of very recently Apple became the top notebook vendor in the US:

        [url<]http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/12/apple-is-number-1-in-u-s-notebook-sales/[/url<] ....so that's probably the entire 10% right there. 🙂

          • Shambles
          • 7 years ago

          That article does nothing to support its title that Apple is the number one notebook vendor in the USA.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            They’re just quoting Apple’s most recent earnings statement. I wasn’t able to find better figures.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            EARNING != SALES.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            Tim Cook claimed that Apple was the #1 notebook vendor during the last earnings call is what I’m going by. I’m sure that’s at least mostly true, but I have no idea what numbers he was going by.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            they might be by revenue. possibly even sales. idk.

        • Thresher
        • 7 years ago

        Don’t some of the high end 13″ Sony laptops have some version of Thunderbolt?

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      I wish the Intel NUC came with USB3 instead of TB

        • Airmantharp
        • 7 years ago

        I’m actually alright with this- this is where TB is useful. A breakout box using TB as its interconnect could provide USB3 and GBe at a minimum.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah but then you’re adding a breakout box to what is supposed to be an extremely small form factor just to get some funtionality which could be built-in to start. I’m not saying Thunderbolt doesn’t have its uses, just that USB 3.0 ought to be built-in instead of USB 2.0.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      Provided that they’re not trying to use firewire devices you’re absolutely right.

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      Did you read the article? That’s what two thirds of it is about.

      • TakinYourPoints
      • 7 years ago

      The average consumer mainly Facebooks on a web browser, who cares? I thought this was an enthusiast website where people were supposed to get excited about the most cutting edge technology.

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