Acer dumps Thunderbolt ports from new PCs in favor of USB 3.0

The Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook was one of the first Windows PCs with a Thunderbolt port.

In June 2012, Acer released the Aspire S5 Ultrabook and it was the first such Windows Ultrabook released that incorporated the Thunderbolt port that was developed by Intel. Now Acer has decided to discontinue adding Thunderbolt ports in its Windows PC products in favor of USB 3.0.

CNet.com reports that, according to an Acer spokesperson, one of the reason for dumping Thunderbolt support was that it cost more than USB 3.0. The spokesperson said of USB 3.0, "It's less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals."

Intel originally announced Thunderbolt in 2011 and it was first incorporated on a number of Apple's MacBooks later that year. Thunderbolt allows for data transfers at speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, compared to speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second for USB 3.0. However, the latest version of USB is also backwards compatible with all of the older USB 2.0 devices that have been released.

Even though Acer has decided to abandon Thunderbolt, Intel publicly says that its adoption on Windows PCs is actually increasing. Jason Ziller, director of Intel's Client Connectivity Division, stated, "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."

Ziller does admit that Thunderbolt ports can only be found on higher end Windows PCs at the moment. He stated, "It is not targeted to be on mid-range or value systems in the next couple of years."

Intel will offer a limited launch of Thunderbolt 2, which will offer data transfer speed of up to 20 gigabits per second, in 2013, with a full launch in 2014. Meanwhile the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced plans for a "SuperSpeed" version of USB 3.0 that will increase its data speeds to up to 10 gigabites per second and will be backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and the current 3.0; It does not yet have a launch date.

Source: CNet.com | Image via Acer

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Acer continues to see its "forward looking" race to the bottom.

Intel needs to loosen the chain so that AMD can also add native Thunderbolt support in order for all machines to take advantage it. That way we can all stop having cable hell, particularly with respect to laptops. Just power and one or two thunderbolt connections should be plenty for most users, including for PCs (once monitors start to adopt it and themselves become hubs).

I could see that. I was thinking where you would have one thunderbolt port on your laptop/tablet and have it going to a main thunderbolt hub where it has your monitor/kb/mouse/etc all plugged in.

But your idea of just plugging the thunderbolt into the monitor, and then the monitor having all the ports is an even better one. I guess it just will be determined if Thunderbolt remains more high priced then USB 3.0. If so, I don't see it catching on.

Spicoli said,
No reason you couldn't do a USB monitor.

USB Monitors don't have the power to drive anything intensive. Thunderbolt has much more potential as it can replace DisplayPort entirely.

shinji257 said,

USB Monitors don't have the power to drive anything intensive. Thunderbolt has much more potential as it can replace DisplayPort entirely.

The maximum power is defined by the spec and not a limitation of the connector. They can always up it in the next version. The laptop has to have the power supply to do it regardless of the connectors on it.

I believe that in order to boost Thunderbolt, Intel either stops developing USB or offer the Thunderbolt specifications as royalty-free. As neither will happen, TB will go the same way as FW, and be used in a niche market.

Spicoli said,

The maximum power is defined by the spec and not a limitation of the connector. They can always up it in the next version. The laptop has to have the power supply to do it regardless of the connectors on it.

Lol... I wasn't talking drive in terms of electrical. I was talking bandwidth. Even then yes they could up it but the protocol has inherit flaws including a high overhead. Also with laptops there are limits to the amount of electrical you can supply to external components.

I think they are looking at calling it usb 3.5. It will be ratified within the next few months and devices will be available next year. It looks like great, 10gbps via cheap copper cables and 100w power transfer ability.

I'm only interested in Thunderbolt because you can use an adaptor to run FireWire devices, now that FireWire has been dropped from most motherboards. Other than that I have no interest in it and prefer to use the ubiquitous USB.

Well, I don't currently have any use for Thunderbolt and don't foresee myself needing it any time soon. USB 3 suits me well enough for external devices and I like its backwards compatibility. So whether or not a computer has a Thunderbolt port doesn't really make any difference to me.

Intel and Apple have not learned anything from Firewire. They can't make it expensive so other OEMs don't use it. Only pro users will buy them, but not the public.

FireWire DID get adopted by at least one top-tier IHV - Creative. (FireWire - AKA IEEE1394 - was standard fare in every Sound Blaster Audigy/2/4 except the SE.) The issue with FireWire is the SAME issue facing Thunderbolt today - connecting other devices. (The same issue, in fact, nearly derailed SATA, and is hobbling eSATA - the high-speed competition to Thunderbolt today.) Think back - SATA (and eSATA) is designed to be serial connected - daisy-chainable; however, internal SATA cabling is point-to-point; only eSATA sticks to the daisy-chainable spec, and data cables for eSATA that support it aren't cheap. Serial-Attached SCSI - which eSATA was supposed to head off at the pass, is actually threatening to undercut eSATA on price. Motherboards supporting Thunderbolt are available - ASUS and Gigabyte have been offering them for the past two years; both companies have, in fact, added Thunderbolt to non-enthusiast motherboards that support LGA1155 and LGA1150. Still, the issue becomes hardware support and, most importantly, driver support - that is why FireWire on PCs failed to launch, in spite of Creative.

Raa said,
I bought a motherboard with Thunderbolt... still have nothing to use it with.

This. Not only the technology is very expensive to implement and license but the devices are scarce and very expensive (40$ for a TB cable, for example). I see this as the next Firewire: very good in theory, very badly implemented in practice.
Also even that USB 3 (or 3.5) isn't near the speed of TB, for the biggest chunk of users it's enough, cheap and backwards compatible. Also TB could make small underpowered laptops or even tablets full fledged workhorses in a docking station (better gfx card, more pci lanes)...

Apple is free to implement the latest and greatest regardless of cost - PC OEMs generally aren't. Second issue - who competes heads-up with Apple (same OS)? That's right - nobody, as there is no legitimate way for an OEM - any OEM - to put OS X on non-Apple hardware, despite it being technically feasible. Lastly, PC OEMs compete with *each other*; where features are identical, or identical enough to make no or very little difference, price rules. And nowhere (other than tablets) is that pressure more severe than the general notebook market, where the Acer Aspire plays. I've seen, and had hands-on time with, an Aspire (specifically, the Aspire 5250) - believe it or not, the Aspire is a solid notebook (while the OP focussed on Core i-series Aspires, the Aspire 5250 is driven by an AMD APU - specifically, the E-350). And while notebook users DO want more connectivity, they don't necessarily want more connectivity options; by and large, they want to be able to connect more of what they have - THAT means USB, not Thunderbolt. Lastly, USB 3.0 does have that backward-compatibility safety net, which Thunderbolt frankly lacks.

Thunderbolt could have been the next ExpressCard on steroids if the costs of implementing Thunderbolt was cheaper.

To be the best you have to have the best. "Point Blank". Food for thought. What if the Chicago Bulls back in the day got rid of Michael Jordan for a cheaper alternative solution for a player? Would they have won all the championship games? Thunderbolt is that modern day Michael Jordan. I record music and do music video. Most high end recording studio and video systems implement the Thunderbolt technology for its stability and speed. I was willing and looking foward to pay up to $2500.00 dollars for a laptop that gave me the option of thunderbolt. Now, because they are taking it away as an option I cant use my Pro Tools HD thunderbolt interface with the laptop when I get the money up for the unit. That's a marketing tragedy in one hand just so more money can go in an executives pocket. people are stupid when it comes to power, they will sell their own mother out for a cheap alternative. In the end they will save money but the reputation of being the best will be officially hung up.

My suggestion is they implement both USB 3 and Thunderbolt for gamer, audio recording systems, and video editor, etc or else "Alienware" by Dell will crush them as the all and all systems to buy and people like me who know quality workmanship will start talking bad about the company making a dummy move on the chess board of business.

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