Right now you’ll find Thunderbolt lurking within the depths of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros and Airs, but accessories that take advantage of the high speed port aren’t exactly plentiful, or cheap. That doesn’t seem to faze Intel, who are hoping to increase Thunderbolt speeds even further thanks to the increased bandwidth afforded by PCI Express 3.0.
According to PCWorld, Intel have already begun implementing PCI Express 3.0 support on the chipset level in its upcoming Ivy Bridge release. PCI Express 3.0 will have speeds of up to 8GT/s, compared to 5GT/s found with PCI Express 2.0.
It’s great that Intel are keen on squeezing as much speed out of the tech as possible, but it doesn’t really matter without readily available accessories to take advantage of that. Right now USB 3.0 has a much larger edge in terms of installed devices, as well as affordable external hard drives and flash drives that you can buy right this very minute.
Thunderbolt has a maximum theoretical speed of 10Gbit/s for both the upstream and downstream, while USB 3.0 maxes out at 5Gbit/s. While Thunderbolt has support for DisplayPort, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and has a much larger presence right now.