Hewlett-Packard Does Not See Value in Thunderbolt - Company

World's No. 1 PC Maker Prefers USB 3.0 to Thunderbolt

by Anton Shilov
05/17/2011 | 02:15 PM

Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest maker of personal computers, said that it did not see the value in the Thunderbolt interconnection technology recently unveiled by Intel Corp. along with a number of partners. Instead, HP believes that USB 3.0 offers better value at present.


"We did look at [Thunderbolt]. We are still looking into it. Have not found a value proposition yet. 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," said Xavier Lauwaert, worldwide marketing manager for desktops at HP, reports IDG News Service.


HP this week introduced a new lineup of high-end desktop personal computers called Pavilion HPE. The new family supports SuperSpeed USB interconnection standard and does not feature Intel Thunderbolt, which is currently supported by select Apple Macintosh personal computers and is also backed by a number of companies, primarily providers of professional solutions.

Although Intel has led the design of both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, the company at present does not support USB 3.0 with its core-logic sets and only supports TB with standalone controllers. Next year the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker plans to release chipsets with USB 3.0 support, but the destiny of integrated support of TB is not clear at this point. As a result, it is generally not surprising that PC makers are not too enthusiastic about the Thunderbolt.

Previously known as Light Peak, Thunderbolt technology supports two low-latency communications protocols - PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays. Thunderbolt technology works on data streams in both directions, at the same time, so users get the benefit of full bandwidth in both directions, over a single cable. With the two independent channels, a full 10Gb/s of bandwidth can be provided for the first device in the chain of the devices. All Thunderbolt technology devices share a common Mini DisplayPort connector. Intel's Thunderbolt controllers interconnect a PC and other devices, transmitting and receiving packetized traffic for both PCIe and DisplayPort protocols and thus makers need to develop or use additional controllers to make their products compatible with the TB I/O interface.

Not a lot of devices these days can take advantage of Thunderbolt. Only external graphics cards, external solid-state drives as well as RAID-based storage solutions, professional equipment and some other applications need 10Gb/s demand. As a result, USB 3.0, which can theoretically provide up to 5Gb/s bandwidth, will continue to serve the majority of devices that exist today.