So Intel's claim is that the install base of PC with Thunderbolt is growing. But on the other side, are accessories supporting Thunderbolt growing rapidly also? The port is useless if not enough useful accessories can use it.
Acer, one of the world’s largest suppliers of personal computers, will no longer offer systems with support of Thunderbolt interconnection. The company believes that future versions of USB 3.0 will provide similar performance as Thunderbolt, but will not suffer from limited compatibility as well as very high price.
"We are really focusing on USB 3.0 – it is an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt. It is less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals," said Ruth Rosene, an Acer spokeswoman, in a conversation with Cnet News web-site.
Thunderbolt, which is primarily promoted by Intel Corp. and Apple, can transfer data at the speed of 10Gb/s in both directions and connect displays at the same time. Future versions of Thunderbolt will boost the speed to 20Gb/s. By contrast, current-gen USB 3.0 has maximum throughput of 5Gb/s, whereas its future version will improve performance to 10Gb/s.
Even though 10Gb/s or 20Gb/s makes a lot of sense for various external solid-state drives and a number of other devices, for the vast majority of peripherals such speeds are not required at present. Meanwhile, implementation of Thunderbolt requires installation of special costly chips only available from Intel. As a result, by far not everyone benefits from Thunderbolt, which comes at a price.
Intel itself claims that the adoption of Thunderbolt is indeed growing, which means that eventually Acer may find itself in a position that will not allow it to compete for certain demanding customers.
“Thunderbolt’s PC adoption is increasing. There are more than a dozen new 4th-generation Intel Core processor-based platforms already launched with Thunderbolt, including from Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and others, with more coming throughout 2013. Thunderbolt is targeted toward premium systems. It is not targeted to be on mid-range or value systems in the next couple of years,” said Jason Ziller, director of Intel's client connectivity division.