September 15, 2011

Thunderbolt Coming to Windows PCs

Chris Foresman, writing for Ars Technica:

"Apple has so far been the only PC maker to support Intel's high-speed Thunderbolt interconnect, but Windows PC users will be able to get in on the fun soon enough: Acer and ASUS have announced that they will ship computers with Thunderbolt ports starting next year."

This is great news for anyone buying a machine, but arguably better for those who own one of Apple's recent product updates. There are very few peripherals available that exploit the new super-high speed connector found on their newer machines. By adopting the connection technology, ASUS and Acer improve the chances of seeing a wider set of Thunderbolt-connected peripheral products.

Thunderbolt connection technology is currently available in two models. MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini machines sport a four-channel, 10 Gb/sec connector that not only provides high speed data connectivity, but dual external monitor support with its mini-DisplayPort connector. The MacBook Air sports a two-channel controller chip, which while providing full 10 Gb/sec data bandwidth will only handle a single external display. The four-channel controller is physically larger than the 2-channel model.

The upcoming second generation controller, which will be used in ASUS and Acer machines, is also available in both 2- and 4-channel flavors, but will appear in the same package size for both. There is no indication which flavor will appear in the ASUS and Acer machines.