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AMD Lighting Bolt would echo Thunderbolt on the cheap

updated 03:20 am EST, Sat January 14, 2012

AMD Lightning Bolt in development

AMD is developing a parallel to Intel's Thunderbolt, the chip designer unveiled at a closed-doors demo late into CES. Conspicuously known as Lightning Bolt, what AnandTech saw would similarly use Mini DisplayPort jacks and would share both power, USB 3.0, and video over a lone cable. Unlike Thunderbolt, it would make very minor changes to the cable and cost as little as a dollar premium over a basic Mini DP connection.

Shaving costs would have some setbacks over Intel's approach. It wouldn't transmit data at USB 3.0's full speed, AMD said. In exchange, low-cost notebook docking stations would be an option, in some cases costing as little as a USB hub.

AMD plans to ship Lightning Bolt before the end of 2012, although it may arrive too late to be a part of the first wave of Trinity-based processors for notebooks. It could still even the balance for AMD and give it a high-speed, notebook-oriented interface. Thunderbolt has the full speed advantage but often costs much more for controller chips and special cables.

By Electronista Staff


  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004


    Goodbye AMD/ATI

    They should have called this Lightning Rod instead. Same connector, synonymous name to Thunderbolt and it's icon, incompatible and far less performance, but cheap. It's almost like AMD moved to Korea. I can hear the lawyers salivating already.

    Given the glacial pace of the courts, both Lightning Bolt and Thunderbolt will be obsolete by the time AMD succeeds in sowing enough confusion to kill the latter.

  1. chas_m



    Not really a competitor

    just a good analogy to iOS/Android. :)

    If "Lightning Bolt" can't muster the speed of USB 3, then its not even CLOSE to Thunderbolt's speed, and will get ZERO acceptance in the professional market. Not to mention a fat juicy lawsuit.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2002


    usb3 on macs...

    ...would be a huge help from my perspective given its purportedly low cost & much higher speed than even esata...?

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004


    Some thoughts:

    - Unless AMD has bombproof prior trademarking how can they get away with using the name? The only real value add provided by Lightning Bolt would be to fool the low end into thinking that they got Thunderbolt capabilities (which they would never use anyway) on a cheap low end box.

    - Even if they can use the name, I would love to be the Thunderbolt marketer. Sooo easy to use AMD's c*** product as a foil...

    - Or is AMD maybe obfuscating the Thunderbolt market space just to mess with Intel?

    IMO bad for AMD because (a) Intel's and Apple's resolve to market Thunderbolt will be strengthened by the AMD move and (b) AMD is publicly staking out the low end, which denigrates their brand and places them in the low-end low-margin competitive space.

  1. facebook_John

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2012


    Cheap and needs an AC outlet?

    They should have called it sparky. That's what it compares to against the Thunderbolt. Just a spark if that and you need to have an AC outlet too. Compare that to thunderbolt which provides power through the port.
    I honestly don't think this sparky cable adapter is going to give you very good video or speed. Having to have it plugged into a wall outlet makes this so awkward to use.

  1. Salty

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jul 2005


    Confusing consumers?

    Is this going to work with Thunderbolt equipped computers? If not then why is it being done? Why use the same size port if it's going to be incompatible.

    If it's pin compatible with Thunderbolt then bring it on, not everyone needs full thunderbolt speeds, but if it just fits in the port and doesn't do anything then, then reshape the port a little so you can't plug it in. Otherwise you're gonna have a lot of irritated people who bought accessories that won't' work with their computers.

  1. facebook_Eric

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2012


    Imagine a world ...

    Imagine not having to pay the AAPL tax though.

  1. bdmarsh

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2006


    USB3 is not even close to PCIexpress

    Thunderbolt is PCI express over a cable. USB3 is good for what it does, but it is not competition for how expandable that PCI Express is, or PC towers would not have kept including PCI express cards.

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