HP dodges Thunderbolt, sticks with USB 3.0

Hewlett Packard considered using Thunderbolt technology in its latest line of desktop computers, but decided to stick with USB 3.0's tried-and-trusted interface, according to one of the company's top marketeers.

Xavier Lauwaert, worldwide marketing manager for desktops at HP, said "We did look at [Thunderbolt]. We're still looking into it. [But we] haven't found a value proposition yet."

What that means for those of you who are not fluent in marketing gobbledygook is that HP doesn't think its punters would be willing to pay the additional dosh that a Thunderbolt port would cost to include on the average PC, not least because the storage drives and monitors that hook up to the clever I/O standard are few and far between.

Thunderbolt was originally called Lightpeak, a standard developed by Intel to allow external storage devices, displays and other demanding peripherals to be daisy-chained using a super-fast optical connection capable of sending data in both direction simultaneously at speeds of up to 100 Gb/s (Gigabits per second).

Thunderbolt is a copper-based prequel dreamed up by Apple and Intel, first seen on the latest MacBook Pro laptops and now available on the recently revamped iMac all-in-one range.

HP launched a new range of three new desktop PCs yesterday, only one of which supports the latest USB 3.0 standard. "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," Lauwaert said.

The only other PC maker that seems to have thrown its hat into the Thunderbolt ring is Sony, but storage specialists LaCie and Western Digital have already announced compatible storage devices, and Canon as well as a number of lesser-known imaging outfits are said to be on-board.

Thunderbolt squeezes both PCI Express and DisplayPort technologies into a single bi-directional data stream and can connect to USB and Firewire peripherals as well as most legacy display formats using simple adaptors.

A single will port will power up to six peripherals and one display.

Intel says the forthcoming Ivy Bridge chip sets will support both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt out of the box.