According to Digitimes, Intel has notified its hardware partners that the company will “fully release” its Thunderbolt I/O port technology in April 2012, with several major PC manufacturers already planning to launch desktop systems, notebooks, and motherboards that support the interface. PC builders ASUS and Sony are reportedly onboard for the first wave of these computers, as is motherboard builder Gigabyte.
Thus far, Thunderbolt has only been available on computers made by Apple, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and iMac. The technology was developed by Intel in collaboration with the Cupertino company, in order to unify multiple connection buses, including SCSI, SATA, USB, FireWire or PCI Express. Thunderbolt also offers transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, but currently, it’s still quite expensive–a controller chip for the tech costs over $20, while USB 3.0 is much cheaper. However, the cost of Thunderbolt is expected to drop in the second half of 2012.
This April 2012 date matches up nicely with Intel’s anticipated release of the Ivy Bridge processor platform. If Intel launches the chipset alongside the processor–a practice they’ve consistently done in the past–Thunderbolt technology will likely be integrated in desktop and mobile computers powered by their new CPUs.