HP dismisses Intel's Thunderbolt in favor of USB 3.0

By on May 18, 2011, 6:00 AM

Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest PC manufacturer, is not impressed with Intel's Thunderbolt interconnect. The company has declared that it will not use it in new desktop PCs, and will instead stick with USB 3.0 because of wider support, at least for the foreseeable future.

"We did look at [Thunderbolt]. We're still looking into it. Haven't found a value proposition yet," Xavier Lauwaert, worldwide marketing manager for desktops at HP, told PC World. "On the PC side, everybody seems to be content with the expansion of USB 3.0. Do we need to go into more fancy solutions? Not convinced yet."

Earlier this week, HP announced three new series of desktop PCs: the Pavilion Elite h8, the Pavilion p7, and the Pavilion Slimline s5. The first one can be configured to include two USB 3.0 ports.

Thunderbolt is Intel's high-speed interconnect that can transfer data between host computers and external devices such as displays and storage devices at speeds of up to 10Gbps. The technology has been viewed as an alternative to USB 3.0, although many devices based on the interconnect are not yet available and Intel insists the two are complementary. Intel developed Thunderbolt with Apple, which is offering the interface in its new iMacs, but Sony has also said it is backing the technology.

Intel's latest 32nm Sandy Bridge processors only support USB 2.0, but Ivy Bridge, which will be manufactured using a 22nm process, will come with USB 3.0. There has been speculation that Intel delayed supporting USB 3.0 in order to push Thunderbolt. Last month, however, Intel began urging developers to target both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.

Intel plans to open up Thunderbolt development this quarter, and is also working with partners to develop products with the goal of building an ecosystem around the interconnect. It's still unclear whether Thunderbolt will catch on, but given how much pull Intel has in the industry, we doubt it will fail.

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