Intel's Thunderbolt set to rival USB 3.0 in 2012

Image: Intel/Apple.

Although thus far restricted to Apple-branded computer hardware, Intel’s Thunderbolt data transfer technology now looks set to make the leap to conventional PC systems.

That’s according to a DigiTimes report that claims leading chipmaker Intel Corp. has “recently notified its partners” that Thunderbolt will be released fully in April of 2012.

Cited unnamed industry sources, the report also outlines that a number of “first-tier” hardware vendors are already prepping motherboards, notebooks and desktops equipped with Thunderbolt support.

Intel’s decision is apparently down to steadily increasing demand from the IT industry, which has finally taken note of the next-generation data transmission platform thanks, in part, to Apple’s adoption across core products such as the MacBook.

The technology’s gradual standardization is also more likely given that associated adoption costs surrounding Thunderbolt are expected to fall throughout 2012.

In terms of performance, Thunderbolt provides transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, which should enable users to dump a high-definition feature film inside 30 seconds. Increased flexibility also means as many as seven compatible devices can be chained from a single port.

Despite the existence of mainstay rival USB 3.0 in the data transfer sector, computer heavyweights such as Sony, Acer, ASUSTeK (ASUS) and Gigabyte will all supposedly offer Thunderbolt hardware before the close of Q2.

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