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A publication claims that USB 3.0 could at last hit Macs.

The addition would allow Apple customers to ditch their $50 premium cables -- and, more importantly, gain access to many more peripherals.  (Source: iFixIt)
Move could alleviate Apple owners' woes of limited peripheral selection

These days USB 3.0, an extra-speedy connectivity technology is supported by an increasing number of peripherals like external hard drives or thumb drives.  And it's become quite mainstream in the PC market, even showing up in mid-range models like the Micro-Star International Comp., Ltd.'s (TPE:2377) $700 MSI FX603 notebook.

But customers of Apple Inc. (AAPL) -- the third largest computer-maker in the U.S. -- are willing to settle for paying as much $3,000 or more for some high end "fully loaded" notebooks or $5,000 on some desktops without a scrap of USB 3.0 support.

Ex-CEO Steve Jobs claimed customers didn't care about USB 3.0 and it wasn't time for them to be allowed to get it, anyways.  Apple instead offers customers Thunderbolt, an early copper-based implementation of Intel Corp.'s (INTC) upcoming fiber-optic "LightPeak" technology.

LightPeak offers 20 Gbit/s bidirectional data transmission versus up to 5 Gbit/s with USB 3.0.  While that sounds like a favorable trade, one relatively minor downside to this arrangement is that Apple customers have to pony up a whopping $50 USD per cable, thanks to the slew of microchips inside the complicated design.  Further, while an extra $50 on a $5000 computer may not seem that bad, the lack of selection in terms of ThunderBolt peripherals offers a far more pressing issue for Apple computer users.

Now with a new CEO at the head of Apple the rumor has popped up yet again that the company will finally catch up to PCs in hardware by offering its customers USB 3.0.  

VR-Zone writes, "A lot of people have been disappointed over Apple's lack of interest in the USB 3.0 standard, but thanks to a little bird, VR-Zone has heard that the company is still looking at USB 3.0 as a potential feature to add on future products. As to when and how this might happen is not something we know, but from our understanding it'll happen before Intel integrates USB 3.0 support into its chipsets."

The important word in that comment is "before".  Intel is supposed to drop in support for the USB 3.0 standard in its Ivy Bridge CPU series, which will launch in 2012.  If VR-Zone's source is correct Apple could be preparing to deliver USB 3.0 slightly ahead of schedule in late 2011.

If Apple does that it'd probably have to go with a third party chip to add compatibility to its stock Intel chipset.  That wouldn't be the first time Apple has done this -- its a well known secret that back in 2010 it hacked at the stock chipsets to allow graphics switching (similar to Optimus) between the integrated GPU in the Intel CPU core and the dedicated onboard NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) GeForce GPU.

Hopefully the rumors are true, after all, from our perspective there's little excuse to be peddling a $5,000 computer that lacks USB 3.0 support found in $700 Windows PCs.


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RE: ???
By TEAMSWITCHER on 9/2/2011 8:20:31 PM , Rating: 0
USB 3 can't can't drive a external display but Thunderbolt can and much, much, more. Thunderbolt is a versatile docking solution for Apple laptops, and that was really the point of it. The new Apple Thunderbolt displays have a MagSafe power plug and a Thunderbolt cable. It charges your MacBook, is a port replicator, and external 27" IPS display all at the same time. Thunderbolt is more expensive to implement than USB 3 but not more difficult - any device that can connect to a PCI Express bus can connect to Thunderbolt, it's already compatible with existing technologies, even USB 3. I sure hope PC manufacturers don't dismiss Thunderbolt to save a few dollars on their designs, it's fantastic technology that when mature could lead to exciting new computer designs. USB 3 is just a faster USB port, it is useful, but isn't the game changer Thunderbolt is.


RE: ???
By retrospooty on 9/2/2011 11:02:13 PM , Rating: 3
and these thunderbolt devices are on sale where? Link please!


RE: ???
By TEAMSWITCHER on 9/3/2011 1:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC914LL/A?fnode=...
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/inde...
http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?id=10...
http://www.promise.com/storage/raid_series.aspx?re...

That Apple 27" Thunderbolt display is also port replicator and MacBook charging dock as well. Thunderbolt is the world's first non-proprietary docking solution. PC's have had proprietary solutions for years, but this is different and more versatile. PC makers may not adopt Thunderbolt - they will say they are not interested in the technology or that USB 3 is adequate. In reality they are just being cheap or want you to keep buying their ugly proprietary docking solutions.


RE: ???
By retrospooty on 9/4/2011 10:50:28 AM , Rating: 2
OK, but still not seeing any advantage in TB vs existing connections... A possible exception being a universal port rep/dock for laptops, but that is a pretty small market. TB is intel's tech, not Apple's. At this point its not looking like it will catch on when USB 3 is cheaper, 100% backwards compatible and plenty fast enough. Doing a full 20+GB image on todays fast 2TB drives is exactly as fast on USB3, vs SATA, with tons of headroom for future faster drives.


RE: ???
By StevoLincolnite on 9/3/2011 12:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
USB 3 can't can't drive a external display but Thunderbolt can and much, much, more.


Wrong. USB 3 can drive an external Display with a special device in the middle, you could do it even with USB 2.

quote:
any device that can connect to a PCI Express bus can connect to Thunderbolt, it's already compatible with existing technologies, even USB 3


Problem is the amount of native peripherals with Thunderbolt. Hint: They're almost non-existent at this stage.
Where-as USB has been around for over a decade and completely backwards compatible and widely available.

quote:
I sure hope PC manufacturers don't dismiss Thunderbolt to save a few dollars on their designs, it's fantastic technology that when mature could lead to exciting new computer designs.


It's not going to make your PC any more curved or shiny, hence it won't alter PC designs much if at all, just another Port to add to the mix alongside everything else.

USB is pretty much on every computer and will continue being the defacto connectivity standard for Printers, flash drives, external Hard Drives etc'. As it's a port that can be found in Cars, Phones, Televisions etc'. Thunderbolt? Good luck.


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