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Ultrabooks Will Be Zapped By Thunderbolt in 2Q12

By - Source: DigiTimes | B 21 comments

It's assumed that ultrabooks based on the Ivy Bridge platform will feature Thunderbolt connectivity on the higher-end models. Updated, adding info provided by Gigabyte.

Industry sources have spoken, and they declare that Acer, Asus and Lenovo will likely throw Intel's Thunderbolt connectivity technology into their Ivy Bridge-based ultrabook recipe for 2Q12, as Intel's platform supports the Thunderbolt tech. The report also indicates that these ultrabooks will use motherboards provided by Gigabyte Technology

"Gigabyte is working with Intel on introducing some of the first retail desktop PC motherboards that will be available later this year, in accordance with Intel's release guideline," the company told Tom's in an emailed statement. "We plan to continue our leadership position in the USB 3.0 desktop motherboards space with more SuperSpeed USB ports on more models than ever before, while also seeing huge potential for Thunderbolt on the desktop for PC case and other accessory vendors who want to offer multiple easily accessible high speed connectors from a single motherboard interface."

Gigabyte also informed us that it's providing Thunderbolt motherboads for desktops only, not for ultrabooks. "Acer, Asus and other notebook manufacturers make their own motherboards.

But having Thunderbolt connectivity in an ultrabook will come with a price. Sources point out that Thunderbolt is still expensive, adding $20 per unit. One of the major selling factors for ultrabooks is in fact pricing, supposedly residing below the $1000 price cap to stay somewhat affordable for the mainstream consumer.

That said, the tech is expected to be integrated into high-end models that will likely reach beyond Intel's requested limit. Thunderbolt is also expected to be integrated into high-end desktops and notebooks in 2012 as well.

So what's the big deal with Thunderbolt? We've covered every aspect of this tech for quite a while, but for the uninitiated, it allows multiple connections via one port, supporting both PCI-Express data transmissions and DisplayPort image/video transmissions. This will likely open the door to incredible upgrade options without having to purchase a new ultrabook or laptop. Paying the extra price for Thunderbolt will undoubtedly be worth the money in the long run.

In addition to Thunderbolt, sources note that Intel's Ivy Bridge will natively support SuperSpeed USB 3.0, and will be mainly equipped in mid-range to high-end PCs in 2012. USB 3.0, a nice alternative to Thunderbolt, will be fully standardized by 2013, they said, finally replacing USB 2.0.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    burnley14 , January 20, 2012 7:20 PM
    ClasszeroThunderbolt is an Apple trademark, I think it has to be called something else.

    Nope, it's Intel.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    burnley14 , January 20, 2012 7:20 PM
    ClasszeroThunderbolt is an Apple trademark, I think it has to be called something else.

    Nope, it's Intel.
  • 7 Hide
    classzero , January 20, 2012 7:23 PM
    ClasszeroThunderbolt is an Apple trademark, I think it has to be called something else.


    I am sorry, Intel does indeed own that trademark. Please disregard my previous post.
  • 1 Hide
    classzero , January 20, 2012 7:23 PM
    burnley14Nope, it's Intel.


    You beat me to it.
  • 0 Hide
    extremepcs , January 20, 2012 7:31 PM
    Why did Apple get an exclusive license for it again? Shame on you, Intel.
  • 3 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 20, 2012 8:06 PM
    On the plus side, now people can install external GPUs. The question is, who will manufacture external GPUs that can actually run games at reasonable FPS?
  • 0 Hide
    kenyee , January 20, 2012 8:49 PM
    I still want 4 SODIMM slots in an UltrabooK :-P
  • 3 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 20, 2012 9:53 PM
    extremepcsWhy did Apple get an exclusive license for it again? Shame on you, Intel.

    that's not true. Actually there's already an old sony notebook with thunderbolt.

    kenyeeI still want 4 SODIMM slots in an UltrabooK :-P

    you can already have that. and if you don't want an ultra you can have a notebook with 6 ram slots.

    A Bad DayOn the plus side, now people can install external GPUs. The question is, who will manufacture external GPUs that can actually run games at reasonable FPS?

    you don't manufacture external gpu's. there isn't such a thing. you either use "internal" mxm notebook graphic cards as external (which is stupid since it's external you need a power source) or you use a desktop graphic card connected to the notebook.
    the problem is always the connection. currently you can use mini pci-e and/or expresscard but that still limits the performance at about 50%. which is not bad.
    thunderbolt will enable cards to have about 80% to 95%.
    you can buy it here: http://www.hwtools.net/ they'll also make thunderbolt versions.
    more info here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphics-cards/418851-diy-egpu-experiences.html
    there are more companies announcing external gpu's but usually most don't develop the product or the product is insanely expensive. hwtools is the way to go.

    thunderbolt will truly revolutionize mobile computing. you can have a small portable ultrabook and when connected to an external graphic card you have a high-end desktop. you can always connect to an lcd and keyboard etc.

    notebook manufacturers always avoided this from happening. they always avoided giving an upgrade path for graphic cards. mxm could deliver that and it's 10 years old. external gpu's were never and will never be implemented by notebook manufacturers. they make too much money just selling new notebooks then selling upgrades.
    but by the force of technological improvements they can't resist anymore. someone will have the thunderbolt product and make millions. now we have an almost bottleneck free interface for adding external gpu's. now you can upgrade almost everything: gpu, cpu, hdd/ssd, ram, odd, wifi, mini-pci stuff etc.

    I'm really looking forward to buy a cheap thunderbolt notebook so I can upgrade to a good cpu and add an external graphic card. then I'll sell my desktop.
  • 2 Hide
    inthere , January 20, 2012 10:24 PM
    You can also daisy chain external SSD's with Thunderbolt. There's a YouTube vid with 4 Lacies going for 1100mb/sec I believe.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , January 20, 2012 10:30 PM
    I'm satisfied with Expresscard. I have Expresscard 1.0, 250MB's theoretical and a USB 3 card in it. Even though I'm a power user, I'm sure it'll be enough bandwidth for whatever I'd want to use my laptop for.

    I guess Ultrabooks won't have expresscard 2.0, no space for even 34mm cards? If all utrabooks came with USB3, I don't think many people would complain about not having thunderbolt, as long as the ultrabook came with HDMI too.
  • 0 Hide
    livebriand , January 20, 2012 11:20 PM
    For most things, there's no reason to have this. USB 3.0 is cheap to implement and quite a few things already have it, plus it's backwards compatible with USB 2.0, which is everywhere. That said, it would be cool if you could just plug in a thunderbolt connector for a dock that has a few usb ports, video output (DVI, Displayport, and HDMI, with support for dual monitors), audio output (3.5mm, and maybe toslink), ethernet, and an external GPU. And better yet, maybe also extra CPU power... if that's even possible. Of course, I'm sure I'm dreaming...

    I haven't heard anything about thunderbolt in desktops though (aside from the imac). Why's it all about laptops?
  • 0 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 20, 2012 11:53 PM
    it isn't all notebooks. there will be desktop implementations. cpu power is impossible. but anyway you can upgrade the cpu. external upgrade the cpu doesn't make sense. also because they are very scalable in power and performance you can easily throttle up or down.

    usb3.0 is good but isn't good enough. an external gpu with usb3.0 is still very bottlenecked. also most usb3.0 implementations have 1 controller and ports act like an hub so it's 5gbps divided by the number of ports.

    expresscards are long time ditched by many manufacturers. even in non ultrabooks. also 2.0 implementations are rare. so most act like pci-e 1x 1.0 port which is slower then usb3.0.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2012 12:46 AM
    USB3 doesn't come CLOSE to 5 gbps (it was like USB 2.0 claiming 480mbps and faster than Firewire 400a which it wasn't). Thunderbolt gets you 20gpbs 1 direction. Likely bandwidth improvements are in the 20x range. You couldn't possibly use USB3.0 for external GPUs with any kind of efficiency.
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , January 21, 2012 6:43 AM
    think of thunderbolt in the dexktop segment though.

    dell and them made decent computers, but the integrated graphics really kills them. imagine getting a dell, and having a clear upgrade path, like your parents get it for a kid and know nothing, they could get a 200 (im assuming a 150$ gpu and a a 50$ case and psu to power it, i mean a 150watt decent psu cant cost more than 50$ right?) you could effectively use a low end dell as a mid range gaming.

    but not only that, what about people who make the mistake of getting a case to small and cant fit a high end gpu in it? it may not be for a while but soon enough this would hit 95%+ efficiantcy.

    you could also get an exturnal gpu without upgrading your psu, for most people that would be close to a 100$ upgrade, but i cant see that a 300 or less watt psu would ever cost more than 50$, so if you dont care to much about looks, you could separate them... lets also not forget some of the gpu designs that the last few years gave us where they shoot hot air into the case... it would be better to have the gpu outside, and give it a better cooling solution.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 21, 2012 3:33 PM
    I have not seen a lot of interest in Thunderbolt vs USB 3. See more USB 3 stuff out there. If you really need the extra data speed and flexibility Thunderbolt is nice. Probably see more peripherals for it when its out on more PC's then just Apple.
  • 0 Hide
    cobra5000 , January 21, 2012 7:56 PM
    TBoltGuyUSB3 doesn't come CLOSE to 5 gbps (it was like USB 2.0 claiming 480mbps and faster than Firewire 400a which it wasn't). Thunderbolt gets you 20gpbs 1 direction. Likely bandwidth improvements are in the 20x range. You couldn't possibly use USB3.0 for external GPUs with any kind of efficiency.

    Sorry, not believing one word, from a guy named TBoltGuy! At least until your TBolt-Kool-Aid mustache wears off...
  • 0 Hide
    amuffin , January 21, 2012 8:59 PM
    What I would like is an ultra book that doesn't cost 900-100 dollars. I would like one within the price of 500-600 dollars, honestly those would sell like hotcakes.
  • 0 Hide
    Thorny , January 22, 2012 4:38 PM
    $500+ for a 1TB external HDD? I just hope the prices come down to something more reasonable.

  • 0 Hide
    gggplaya , January 23, 2012 4:03 PM
    __-_-_-__that's not true. Actually there's already an old sony notebook with thunderbolt.
    you can already have that. and if you don't want an ultra you can have a notebook with 6 ram slots.
    you don't manufacture external gpu's. there isn't such a thing. you either use "internal" mxm notebook graphic cards as external (which is stupid since it's external you need a power source) or you use a desktop graphic card connected to the notebook.the problem is always the connection. currently you can use mini pci-e and/or expresscard but that still limits the performance at about 50%. which is not bad.thunderbolt will enable cards to have about 80% to 95%.you can buy it here: http://www.hwtools.net/ they'll also make thunderbolt versions.more info here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/ga [...] ences.htmlthere are more companies announcing external gpu's but usually most don't develop the product or the product is insanely expensive. hwtools is the way to go.thunderbolt will truly revolutionize mobile computing. you can have a small portable ultrabook and when connected to an external graphic card you have a high-end desktop. you can always connect to an lcd and keyboard etc.notebook manufacturers always avoided this from happening. they always avoided giving an upgrade path for graphic cards. mxm could deliver that and it's 10 years old. external gpu's were never and will never be implemented by notebook manufacturers. they make too much money just selling new notebooks then selling upgrades.but by the force of technological improvements they can't resist anymore. someone will have the thunderbolt product and make millions. now we have an almost bottleneck free interface for adding external gpu's. now you can upgrade almost everything: gpu, cpu, hdd/ssd, ram, odd, wifi, mini-pci stuff etc.I'm really looking forward to buy a cheap thunderbolt notebook so I can upgrade to a good cpu and add an external graphic card. then I'll sell my desktop.


    You don't have to take it so literal. GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit. The meaning can be as broad as a fully enclosed extenal unit, or just a PCIE graphics card. But yes, i do believe once thunderbolt is fully adopted, there will now be a market for an external GPU and companies will start making them, even laptop manufacturers. Sony is already planning on doing this, although their solution is really expensive. It does mean that manufacturers can design a slim and small laptop with great battery life, yet still be a powerhouse when docked at home doing 3d graphics, gaming, video, etc... They are no longer left with the compromise between size, battery life, and power. They can have both. Consumers can decide to buy the whole bundle, or buy them seperately based on need. Either way the company makes money, and only a few laptop manufacturers are worried about repeat business. Only Dell, HP and a few other major players can hold owner loyalty. Others will all be looking to get as much money out of you as they can on your initial purchase.

    You're wrong about MXM. The reason it didn't take off is simply because of cooling, not because of money. Each upgrade even in today's video cards requires a substantle amount of cooling. Laptops are already designed to their cooling limit, throwing a bigger thermal dissapator into a smaller laptop requires some engineering for cooling. Not going to happen, laptop manufacturers will not support that either, it's asking for a warranty nightmare. Even the modders that did upgrade their video cards, had to do some sort of cooling mod too. Whereas an external GPU can have all the cooling power it needs.
  • 0 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 31, 2012 6:30 AM
    gggplayaYou don't have to take it so literal. GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit. The meaning can be as broad as a fully enclosed extenal unit, or just a PCIE graphics card. But yes, i do believe once thunderbolt is fully adopted, there will now be a market for an external GPU and companies will start making them, even laptop manufacturers. Sony is already planning on doing this, although their solution is really expensive. It does mean that manufacturers can design a slim and small laptop with great battery life, yet still be a powerhouse when docked at home doing 3d graphics, gaming, video, etc... They are no longer left with the compromise between size, battery life, and power. They can have both. Consumers can decide to buy the whole bundle, or buy them seperately based on need. Either way the company makes money, and only a few laptop manufacturers are worried about repeat business. Only Dell, HP and a few other major players can hold owner loyalty. Others will all be looking to get as much money out of you as they can on your initial purchase.You're wrong about MXM. The reason it didn't take off is simply because of cooling, not because of money. Each upgrade even in today's video cards requires a substantle amount of cooling. Laptops are already designed to their cooling limit, throwing a bigger thermal dissapator into a smaller laptop requires some engineering for cooling. Not going to happen, laptop manufacturers will not support that either, it's asking for a warranty nightmare. Even the modders that did upgrade their video cards, had to do some sort of cooling mod too. Whereas an external GPU can have all the cooling power it needs.

    you are wrong. mxm had 4 classes of devices each own with each size, power, tpd defined so that the manufacturers implement what they want. Even small 8" notebooks could have it. And they were interchangeable. you could use a type II mxm card on a IV slot.
    Also your argument about cooling is stupid because all manufacturers implement mxm in one way or another. They simply lock the bios or solder the cards to the motherboard. You don't have a clue about how notebooks function. go check the mxm spec and come back.
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