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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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By EricMartello on 9/2/2011 10:54:50 PM , Rating: 4
Whether it is USB, Thunderbolt, SATA, Firewire or even a lowly RS-232 port - they all have one thing in common - they must connect with the local bus of the host system.

Instead of making and then supporting all of these various connectivity interfaces, why not simply extend the PCI spec to encompass external interfacing and eliminate all of these secondary interfaces. Why must hard drives use SATA, monitors use HDMI/DVI, memory cards USB when they all "bridge" over to PCI in the end anyway? Just unify PCI connectivity...the slots for devices inside the system and cable ports for externally connected devices.

Theoretically this design could eliminate a lot of the overhead introduced by these other interfaces and it should enable more cost-effective hardware design with much more flexibility and virtually unlimited connectivity options.

By name99 on 9/2/2011 11:47:34 PM , Rating: 2
Jesus, dude, is this a joke?
Do you seriously not know how Thunderbolt works?

By EricMartello on 9/3/2011 7:40:55 AM , Rating: 2
Thunderbolt isn't the solution to any problem. It's just another interface that we don't need. You clearly don't understand why it would be beneficial to unify connectivity rather than creating separate interfaces for every single device.

By lukarak on 9/4/2011 8:49:57 AM , Rating: 1
What, you would forbid companies to make inovation just to stay compatible? Don't be ridiculous. USB is nothing like Thunderbolt, they overlap in a small range of Thunderbolt's range. And even there, Thunderbolt is superior. It connects directly to the PCI-E bus, which makes the possibilities almost endless.

By EricMartello on 9/4/2011 11:27:41 AM , Rating: 1
Why don't you read my original post more carefully before replying, dipshit. I never said that USB and Thunderbolt are alike...what I said was that they should stop making secondary interface technologies and simply extend the PCI spec to allow for externally connected devices. This would eliminate the need for USB, SATA, DVI/HDMI and any other secondary connectivity method because everything would just connect directly to the PCI bus.

By Gungel on 9/3/2011 10:02:00 AM , Rating: 2
Do you mean like this new standard from the PCI Special Interest Group:

By EricMartello on 9/4/2011 11:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
YES! This is pretty much what I've been saying for a while. The PCI Express spec should have had this from the start. Imagine devices that are no longer bottle-necked by interfaces that do not keep pace with main system technologies. THis would really improve the potential performance of SSDs for instance, and would open the door to external processing devices for entertainment and such.

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