Thunderbolt Finally Coming To Ultrabooks As MacBook Air Prepares For USB 3.0

Thunderbolt Finally Coming To Ultrabooks As MacBook Air Prepares For USB 3.0

Apple first announced its incredible new Thunderbolt interface technology way back in February of 2011. Combining PCI Express and DisplayPort technology into a serial data interface, Thunderbolt allows for up to 20Gbit/s transfer rates, as well as the ability to daisy chain multiple devices, all in a tiny form factor that can fit even in the MacBook Air’s slim housing.

As usual, with Thunderbolt, Apple was at least a year ahead of the rest of the industry… and that’s not hyperbole. Only now are Acer, Asus and Lenovo getting ready to put Thunderbolt in their ultrabook offerings.

According to industry sources speaking to the maybe-occasionally-reliable Digitimes, the three computer makers are all now at work making ultrabooks using Intel’s Ivy Bridge platform, allowing them to bring Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 to their next line of slim ultraportables.

What’s most of interest to Apple fans here won’t be the competition finally catching up, but the fact that this same Ivy Bridge platform is what Apple will build the next MacBook Air around, which means that the next Air (and Apple’s other laptops) will finally adopt USB 3.0 as a matter of course. Of course, who needs USB 3.0 when Thunderbolt’s around anyway?

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  • 3doog

    Apple got the technology first, however this almost doesn’t make a difference, since apart from the thunderbolt display, there are next to no device supporting thunderbolt. I’ve had my macbook air for  half a year now, and not once have used the functionality of the thunderbolt port.

  • Ahmed Alassafi

    I believe it was 10 Gbit/s , not 20, according to the website.

  • prof_peabody

    I think it does 10 each way simultaneously.  still, a bit disingenuous to call it 20. 

  • prof_peabody

    Where I work almost everyone who bought the latest Airs, bought the monitor as well so they get *lots* of use out of the Thunderbolt port.  

    Also, just a huge amount of thunderbolt devices at this year’s CES.  

  • techgeek01

    Hopefully they stick it into the USB port.  :)

    ~USB 3.0
    ~eSATA
    ~Thunderbolt
    ~always on charging (even if the computer is turned off, the port can be used to charge devices)
    ~device charging (rumors has it that soon USB will be powerful enough to charge laptops and such)

    So instead of a bunch of ports (USB, eSATA, Thunderbolt, displayport, HDMI, VGI, power connector, etc…) you’ll just (literally) need a USB port and that’s it.  :)

    Edit: Well, I personally have no use for Thunderbolt, but it would be nice to “combine” ports. This allows for slimmer devices since you won’t need to have a bazillion ports for everything.

  • ddevito

    Another Apple insprired technology that won’t succeed without the help of the PC industry.

    FireWire anyone?

  • dcj001

    Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt adapters are scheduled to be available by the end of February, 2012:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/

  • Nathan Glass

    That’s one way to spin it…

  • Shawn Forsythe

    I could not do without my Thunderbolt Little Big Disk for backing up and storage for my MacBook Air. I don’t think you can knock it, unless you have tried it.

  • Daniel Mcfarlane

    Seriously that is one ugly laptop, is it 1997 again?  oh wait they do it in Clementine Orange I’m sold it will match my Nokia Lumia.     /S

  • 3doog

    I see how thunderbolt can be useful if you have the thunderbolt display, however, I doubt that most people can afford that display(including me :(). I may be wrong, maybe most mac user are rich :(

  • 3doog

    Are you using a ssd for backup or having the drives in raid?

    Well, I haven’t tried it because I can’t find a thunderbolt device to try it on. I will have to spend another laptop money on accessories for me to see any benefit of the port, since anything that’s available now is quite expensive.

  • nthnm

    I’ve had my MBP for close to a year and haven’t once used the Thunderbolt port and probably won’t anytime soon. It’s nice to have it I guess…

  • Bob Forsberg

    The current chip in MBAs doesn’t directly support USB3, The next one everyone will be using does. Obviously a good time for the PC guys to also support the technology Apple calls Thunderbolt….many more will follow. Apple has become the trendsetter where years ago it only appealed to the “Think Different” crowd.

  • Dilbert A

    I’m not rich, and I have one.

  • Birkmeister

    Apple should just dump the current CPU inside the Air and go with AMD’s Trinity.  In that way, Macbook Air will be able to handle USB3.0 natively, and it will also handle three screens (rather than just two). 

    Steve himself said that Intel’s graphics “suck” in his bio.

  • Josh Korth

    Lol i didn’t know there was a hub for absolute retards until i found this website. Lol I am now going to use this website as a zoo for stupid people AKA majority of mac users

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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