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Intel to add USB 3.0, Thunderbolt support with Ivy Bridge processors


Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 are the next great evolutions in device interconnection technology. You’re starting to see support for the new connection types pop up in home computers — Apple‘s latest MacBook Pro, for example, sports a Thunderbolt port — but market leader Intel is still backing its relatively new Sandy Bridge processors, which don’t include support for either.

Now the company has finally given an indication of when users can expect to see support for the new specifications built into its hardware. “Intel is going to support USB 3.0 in the 2012 client platform. We’re going to support Thunderbolt capability. We believe they’re complementary,” Intel Architecture Group vice president Kirk Skaugen said at the company’s developer conference in Beijing, CNET reports.

The “2012 client platform” Skaugen refers to is Intel’s Sandy Bridge follow-up, Ivy Bridge. There are already some machines available with the technology built in, such as the aforementioned MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt and select Dell machines, which use a non-Intel part to add USB 3.0 support. None of it is built directly into the company’s latest line of processors, however.

Both connection types offer a significant boost over previously available options. USB 3.0 can transmit data roughly 10 times faster than its predecessor. Thunderbolt trumps even that, roughly doubling USB 3.0 speeds. The news comes on the heels of AMD‘s announcement earlier this week that it, too, will build USB 3.0 support into its Fusion processors.

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