Those hoping that mainstream adoption of Thunderbolt from PC manufacturers would help spur an increase in reasonably priced accessories won’t particularly enjoy today’s news from Acer. Apple might be pushing ahead with Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, but it seems PC makers are choosing USB 3.0 as a less expensive alternative offering comparable performance for the majority of consumers. Acer tells Cnet that it is removing Thunderbolt from its Aspire S5 Ultrabook this year, which was one of the only Windows notebooks to ship with the technology:
“We’re really focusing on USB 3.0 — it’s an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt,” Acer spokeswoman Ruth Rosene said. “It’s less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals,” she said, mentioning external hard drives, flash drives, keyboards, mice, and gamepads.
Unfortunately for Apple users, lack of mainstream adoption means we’ll likely see less companies taking the plunge into developing Thunderbolt versions of their products. Intel is quick to point out that a few Intel powered products from Asus, Dell and others already include Thunderbolt, but Acer’s decision to opt for USB 3.0 only is a good indication of the difficulty Intel is having in getting companies to adopt the I/O standard that currently only provides advantages for only small percentage of mostly professional users.
“There are more than a dozen new 4th-generation Intel Core processor-based platforms already launched with Thunderbolt, including from Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and others, with more coming throughout 2013,” Ziller added. “Thunderbolt is targeted toward premium systems. It is not targeted to be on mid-range or value systems in the next couple of years.”
Apple, however, isn’t backing down from its commitment to the technology across both its pro and non-pro Mac lines. At WWDC, the company announced that its revamped Mac Pro would be arriving with six Thunderbolt ports as one of the first products to adopt Intel’s second generation Thunderbolt standard that doubles transfer speeds to 20GB/s and introduces 4K video support:
Thunderbolt is the fastest, most versatile I/O technology there is. And with Mac Pro, we’re jumping even further ahead. Thunderbolt 2 delivers twice the throughput, providing up to 20Gb/s of bandwidth to each external device. So you’re more than ready for the next generation of high-performance peripherals. You can connect massive amounts of storage, add a PCI expansion chassis, and work with the latest external displays — including 4K desktop displays and peripheral devices capable of broadcast monitoring in 4K. And since each Thunderbolt 2 port allows you to daisy-chain up to six peripherals, you can go all out by plugging in up to 36 external devices via Thunderbolt alone.