Intel plans to release its Thunderbolt technology this Spring with first-tier PC players reportedly already preparing to launch Thunderbolt-supported motherboards, notebooks and desktop PCs.
Thunderbolt is a high-speed (10Gbps) PC connection technology that brings together high-speed data transfer and high-definition display on to a single cable. Thunderbolt technology uses two communications methods, or protocols -- PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays. PCI Express has the flexibility to connect to almost any type of device, and DisplayPort can drive greater than 1080p resolution displays and up to eight channels of audio simultaneously. Thunderbolt technology is compatible with existing DisplayPort displays and adapters. All Thunderbolt technology devices share a common connector, and let individualsdaisy-chain their devices one after another, connected by electrical or optical cables.
The Intel-developed technology has come to market through a technical collaboration with Apple, and is available on Apple's new line of MacBook Pro laptop computers.
Thunderbolt technology is powered by an Intel controller chip. Due to Thunderbolt chip costs being more than US$20 and the solution running a conflict with USB 3.0 in terms of next-generation data transmission technology, the Thunderbolt did not receive strong attention from the IT industry when announced.
However, according to sources in the Taiwanese PC market, the cost for adopting Thunderbolt technology will drop in the second half of 2012, allowing companies including Sony and Asustek Computer to adopt the technology into their high-end notebook products. Gigabyte Technology is also expected to launch Thunderbolt-featured motherboard in April of 2012 to compete against Asustek and ASRock.