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AMD's Lightning Bolt, ready to take Thunderbolt's thunder

AMD is attempting to steal the thunder from Thunderbolt, introduces Lightning Bolt

By Anthony Garreffa from Jan 13, 2012 @ 2:16 CST

CES 2012: AMD, you funny. Thunderbolt has been here for nearly twelve months now, and at CES, AMD unveiled a concept they call Lightning Bolt. For one, I love how they've kept the name virtually identical to Thunderbolt, and secondly, how long until Intel or Apple release something called Spaedon or Maedon or something to that affect, you know what I mean.


What is AMD's Lightning Bolt capable of? It can deliver USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Power over a single cable with miniDisplayPort connectors. It's designed to be simple, and affordable. For notebooks, there is a mux, which can combine power, DisplayPort and USB 3.0 into a single DisplayPort-like cable. The other end of the cable would connect to a Lightning Bolt breakout box that would provide the three connectors: USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Power ports.

The cable is a standard mini-DP cable, with changes to two of the pins. AMD's goal is to aim for affordable, single-cable docking stations for notebooks. AMD says that the cost of the mux and associated components on the notebook side would be just, one dollar. Eventually, the mux will be built into the notebook, and you'd just see a mini-DP interface with a little symbol that would indicate Lightning Bolt.

AMD claim that USB 3.0 transfers would be faster than USB 2.0, but not full speed. AMD also didn't say just how much power would be capable of being sent over the interface. AMD did state that the docking stations would cost as much as a USB 3.0 hub costs now, and that Lightning Bolt won't hit the ground until the end of the year.


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