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Thunderbolt: Welcome to the Bureaucracy

16 January 2013 7,624 views No Comment

Driver and chip cost issues have inhibited Thunderbolt adoption, but it turns out Intel is a big source of pain for Thunderbolt PC, cable and add-on makers.

Whereas the Fairer Platform and others have publicly kvetched that driver and implementation (chip) cost issues have inhibited Thunderbolt adoption, it turns out that Intel, which created this I/O tech, is a major source of pain for Thunderbolt PC, cable and peripheral makers.

If you want a computer with Thunderbolt, nearly two years after it launched, your best bet is still a Macintosh — about 10 percent of Windows PCs ship with Thunderbolt builtin.

Yes, Thunderbolt chip cost and ongoing driver issues have held adoption back. However, that’s only half the story.

Ars Technica dug into the issue and discovered that Intel’s licensing and device certification terms and support are causing problems, as well:

Jason Ziller, director of Thunderbolt Marketing & Planning at Intel, [said] Intel has “worked closely” with vendors it felt could “offer the best products” and could meet its stringent “certification requirements.” The subtext seemed to be that Intel had limited resources to support and certify new products, and so it gave priority to devices that were perhaps more novel than those proposed by other makers.

Hand selected vendors? Limited resources? Certification hurdles? To sum up, the biggest factor holding back Thunderbolt adoption is “bureaucracy.”

Thunderbolt: Words and Deeds

Compare Intel’s commitment to Thunderbolt as stated above with their mission statement for SuperSpeed USB:

We recognize that more mainstream client computing applications are going to need higher through-put to user-connected peripherals and devices. Intel is fully committed to delivering 10Gbps USB performance [Ed — Burst mode only] to these platforms while retaining compatibility with the existing USB ecosystem to help to satisfy user demand for low-cost, higher-performance solutions — Alex Peleg, vice president, Intel Architecture Group.

That doesn’t sound like starving for resources and gagging on process, does it? Fast track all the way.

Nevertheless, most observers expect Thunderbolt adoption to accelerate in 2013…

What’s your take?

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— Apple Nips Thunderbolt Prices; Delivers MBA Firmware, Prepaid iPhone deal
— SuperSpeed USB Coming, Whither Thunderbolt? Probably…
— Intel Thunderbolt penetration stalls on cost

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