updated 12:30 pm EST, Fri March 9, 2012
Intel Ivy Bridge to intro mid-tier PCIe upgrade
Intel stated Thursday to PCWorld that its Thunderbolt implementation would get a faster back infrastructure with its Ivy Bridge processor era. New Thunderbolt chipsets will use PCI Express 3.0 as its interface with the system instead of PCIe 2.0, boosting the bandwidth from five gigatransfers per second to eight. The upgrade won't change the 10Gbps external speed but will reduce any bottlenecks past the initial interface.
The wait for Ivy Bridge is tied mostly to the processor itself, whose chipset adds PCIe 3.0 support. Xeon E5-2600 processors, which use Sandy Bridge-E, build the new bus directly into the processor but are shipping at about the same time.
Whether or not it's included, Intel has said it might introduce USB 3.0 support to Thunderbolt. At 5Gbps, only two of the newer USB devices could run at full speed on Thunderbolt at a time, but it could allow very fast external hard drives and similar peripherals to share the same space as a display and extra connectors.
Who would implement the upgraded spec wasn't mentioned. Apple as both the co-developer of Thunderbolt and its first adopter is likely to be a strong candidate, followed by Lenovo and those already committed to bringing Thunderbolt to Windows.