Thunderbolt Ready Program Lets You Add Thunderbolt Card to Your Motherboard

This week Intel announced plans for a new 'Thunderbolt ready' program that will allow users to add Thunderbolt to their PC with the addition of a simple card. The company is hoping the upgrade program will expand the footprint of Thunderbolt and is working with PC manufacturers to label motherboards 'Thunderbolt ready,' which means users without Thunderbolt can add it at a later date themselves.


Upgrading requires a GPIO header, but Intel promises the upgrade process is relatively easy. The Thunderbolt card slips right into a PCIe slot, and an included cable connects to the GPIO header. (You'll also need an available DP out connector from your mobo's processor graphics, or an external graphics card.)

"Since the beginning, 'Is there an add-in card for this?' has been one of the more popular questions asked of Thunderbolt," Intel wrote in a blog post.  "Today, the answer is an enthusiastic 'yes,' and the introduction of the Thunderbolt ready program will dramatically increase the availability of Thunderbolt technology, bringing 20Gbps bandwidth, data and display over a single cable, and daisy-chain connectivity of up to six devices, to a far larger range of users in the marketplace."

Intel has named Asus as the first partner in the Thunderbolt Ready program. Asus has developed the first Thunderbolt card, the Asus ThunderboltEX II, which will go along with the Asus Z87Z Pro and adds Thunderbolt 2. Other OEMs will launch Thunderbolt Ready cards, mobos, and desktops next year.

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  • dark_knight33
    That is without a doubt a silly, hacked together looking solution... Thunderbolt is *not* that important. How many motherboards have a GPIO pin header anyway? I suppose they couldn't have used a USB 2 header instead of GPIO, because that would have been embarrassing?
  • InvalidError
    With USB3/3.1 for high-speed data, I can't say I'm in much of a hurry to get Thunderbolt... I'll get it when it eventually gets built into mainstream chipsets and becomes one more of those things available on the rear IO plate.

    Besides, Intel is still using the old DMI bus between the CPU and chipset so going through the x4 slot fed from the chipset could turn into a bottleneck before Thunderbolt gets a chance to flex its muscles. Intel needs to step that up a notch.
  • qlum
    With my phone being the only usb 3 device I own, I doubt I will need thunderbolt anytime soon.