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.