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Intel is reportedly pushing for wider adoption of its high speed Thunderbolt interconnect in 2012. According to DigiTimes, the company will "fully release" its I/O technology in April -- which happens to coincide with Ivy Bridge's launch -- and already several first-tier PC and component manufacturers are looking into adding Thunderbolt support to their motherboards, notebooks and desktop PCs.
Sony and Asus are mentioned among the companies expected to adopt the technology in their high-end notebook products, although we should note that the former has been offering a Thunderbolt-equipped Vaio Z notebook for a while. Meanwhile, Gigabyte, which has been aggressively adopting new I/O technologies into its product line, is also expected to add Thunderbolt support to select motherboards in April 2012.
Originally known as Light Peak, Thunderbolt is Intel's high-speed interconnect that can transfer data between host computers and external devices such as displays and storage products at speeds of up to 10Gbps. The interface supports hubs as well as daisy chaining up to seven compatible devices.
Up until now only Apple has implemented the technology across its product lines, including the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac mini, and LED Display.
Thunderbolt still has a few hurdles to clear, such as the limited availability of supporting devices and the fact that it is more expensive to implement than USB 3.0. However, the hope is that in mass production the cost of adopting Thunderbolt will go down in the second half of 2012 and the technology becomes standard.
The 13-inch MacBook Air models get a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2637M processor, 4GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of flash storage for $1,299 or $1,599, respectively. Configure to order options include a 1.8 GHz Core i7-2677M processor and additional flash storage, but unfortunately no discrete graphics, only the built-in HD 3000 from Intel.
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The Apple iMac 21.5 inch / Spring 2011 Edition is outfitted with a 1080p LED-backlit display, a 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, an AMD Radeon HJD 6750M discrete graphics chip, and a 500GB 7200RPM HDD. It features a built-in "FaceTime HD" camera, integrated speakers, a slot-loading DVD burner, an IR receiver, an SDXC card slot, four USB 2.0 ports, audio in/out jacks, one FireWire 800 port, Gigabit Ethernet, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. The 21.5-inch iterations receive a single Thunderbolt port
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