Lightning Bolt is AMD's answer to Intel's Thunderbolt

By on January 13, 2012, 4:00 PM

AMD has been quietly demonstrating a cost-effective alternative to Thunderbolt at CES. It's unimaginatively called Lightning Bolt and, according to the company, it will deliver USB 3.0, DisplayPort and power over a single cable with mini DisplayPort connectors for a fraction of the cost Thunderbolt controllers and devices command.

Demonstrations were held behind closed doors and no pictures were allowed, but AnandTech was able to see it in action. As the site explains, AMD's goal is to enable affordable, single-cable docking stations for notebooks.

The whole setup consists of a 'mux' on the notebook side that combines power, DisplayPort and USB 3.0, a standard mini-DP cable with changes on only two of the pins, and a Lightning Bolt breakout box at the other end providing the aforementioned ports. AMD claims that the Lightning Bolt multiplexor on the laptop should cost no more than $1 and a compatible dock would be around the same cost as a typical USB 3.0 hub.

While that certainly sounds promising, the protocol is not yet finalized and so there are some performance limitations to the design. AMD says that USB 3.0 bandwidth using the interface would be lower than native USB 3.0 ports' 5Gbps but higher than USB 2.0. In contrast, Thunderbolt can hit 10Gbps. The company didn't comment on  how much power you'd be able to send over the interface either.

The technology won't be ready for the launch of Trinity APUs during the summer but rather by the end of the year. Meanwhile, a handful of motherboards and non-Apple notebooks equipped with Intel's Thunderbolt were already announced at CES, and we'll likely see a few more by the time Ivy Bridge arrives in early Q2.




User Comments: 18

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dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

.....

/awaits inevitable lawsuit from Steven Seagal

//awaits inevitable comparison between Steven Seagal and AMD

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Lighting bolt will always remind me of that LARPing kid.

Guest said:

why does AMD "copies" every naming system by intel?

can AMD just call their new product as USB3+ ?

Guest said:

Wouldnt that be copying google+ ?

Eddo22 said:

AMD didn't copy the name. They corrected it technically since there is no such thing as a thunderbolt.

venomblade said:

Ugh I knew they were starting a trend with this when I saw AMD's A8 3670K and 3870K. <--- Oh the number looks bigger than 2500/2600/2700K, must be better! lol..

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

AMD didn't copy the name. They corrected it technically since there is no such thing as a thunderbolt.

Maybe from a Westernized scientific viewpoint. Other cultures have a different viewpoint....It's also a prominent heraldic symbol(1) (2)...not planning a drive to correct all the world's mythic and religious iconography are you?

The most likely expanation for AMD's name usage is that their PR/Marketing department still can't think their way out of a phone booth without help...at least it's a step up from portraying themselves as failed cosplay devotees in some bizarro universe where Intel lives in fear of the FX brand.

Ugh I knew they were starting a trend with this when I saw AMD's A8 3670K and 3870K. <--- Oh the number looks bigger than 2500/2600/2700K, must be better! lol..

AMD being cheeky and taking the 3xxx numbers knowing that Intel would be using the same numbering system for Sandy Bridge-E/Ivy Bridge. Looks great especially since they've appropriated the "K" suffix for unlocked multiplier as well.

As the saying goes; "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

dividebyzero said:

The most likely expanation for AMD's name usage is that their PR/Marketing department still can't think their way out of a phone booth without help...at least it's a step up from portraying themselves as failed cosplay devotees in some bizarro universe where Intel lives in fear of the FX brand.

hahaha

intelinside said:

&quot;Cost effective way &quot; - no wonder they are close bankruptcy. )

Guest said:

everyone is b!tching about copying names and how good intel is and all and missing the point that this is actually a good thing for the consumer. didn't you all think for a sec that intel would be trying to rip you off and AMD has just put the cat out the bag by showing it could be done cheaper? aka an advantage for the consumers aka us! This is why AMD should alaways be there to annoy intel and to stop them from bullying the consumers. With out AMD intel wouldn't be giving so much to stay ahead. With out AMD you will all still be running a core two duo in your "high end gaming rig". competition always brings better things in technology.. think about it!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

didn't you all think for a sec that intel would be trying to rip you off and AMD has just put the cat out the bag by showing it could be done cheaper?

...and slower....and not even aimed at the same market

AMD says that USB 3.0 bandwidth using the interface would be lower than native USB 3.0 ports' 5Gbps but higher than USB 2.0. In contrast, Thunderbolt can hit 10Gbps. The company didn't comment on how much power you'd be able to send over the interface either.

The benefits of a ground up design using the PCI-Express bus. It's a real pity AMD are taking baby steps since they already have a technology that sure could use the bandwidth of a true Thunderbolt analogue.

aka an advantage for the consumers aka us!

Number of posts in this thread that deride the initiative......Nil

Straw man argument presented to proclaim love for the underdog AMD......one (yours)

AMD technology

AMD Marketing

Notice the subtle difference

Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

I don't hate AMD, i even thought or believed AMD would or could do better. But the way things are going now, makes me sick of them. Just imagine; a thunderbolt is likely slower because it's just a soundwave. A lightning bolt would definitely be much faster. So AMD is still offering something slower than INTEL and they use the name "lightning bolt". Total fail. This is the reason why i'm starting to look more @ INTEL; from budget to high performance, you can't deny that Intel is better

Guest said:

AMD = Always mediocre derivatives

nuff said.

Chazz said:

Mountain out of a mole hill, guys. It's not that serious

VitalyT VitalyT said:

AMD = Average-to-Mediocre Devices

Guest said:

Umm... no. Mine was more accurate. Nice try though.

Guest said:

Like Intel never copies AMD Right? AMD64/EM64T Oh yeah, that's really different.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Like Intel never copies AMD Right? AMD64/EM64T Oh yeah, that's really different.

Nice try, but you'll need to find another example....one that actually works.

EM64T/ Intel 64 is cross-licensed from AMD, just as AMD cross-license x86 from Intel.

If Intel have been copying AMD's x86-64 ISA since 2004, then AMD have been copying x86 a helluva lot longer that...try 1982.

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