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Intel’s Thunderbolt Loses More Ground To USB 3

CNET’s Stephen Shankland reports that Windows computer maker Acer has decided that USB 3.0 is a better deal than Intel’s high-speed communications technology, noting that in 2012, Acer became the first Windows PC maker to embrace Thunderbolt, but that enthusiasm didn’t carry past mid-2013, and that the utility and ubiquity of performance improvements of USB, combined with Thunderbolt’s high cost, led Acer to drop the port from its machines last week. He cites Acer spokeswoman Ruth Rosene saying that USB 3.0 is an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt, noting that “It’s less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals.”

Shankland observes that Intel’s biggest Thunderbolt ally remains Apple, which offers Thunderbolt support in its MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, and MacBook Air computers, and later this year will offer no fewer than six Thunderbolt ports on the next-generation Mac Pro on which Thunderbolt let Apple use a smaller chassis, omitting the empty bays for hard drives and plug-in cards that are typical on high-end workstations. Instead, expansion comes with external peripherals. And the new Mac Pro will come with Thunderbolt 2, a version that doubles data-transfer speeds to 20Gbps but preserves the ability to connect six Thunderbolt devices and a DisplayPort monitor. However, Shankland notes that the USB world is moving ahead, too, with USB’s speed set to double to 10Gbps in 2014.

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