Thunderbolt Controller 10 Times More Expensive than USB 3.0

Paul Lilly

The way in which we shuttle files back and forth between our mobile devices and home PCs is changing, but changing to what? Just as the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec gets ready to be baked in natively to chipsets from Intel and AMD, both companies are also looking at Thunderbolt (Intel) or equivalent alternatives (AMD), but where USB 3.0 has an advantage is in cost.

According to Fudzilla , a USB 2.0 controller costs about 10 cents. That's chump change, and 10 times less than a USB 3.0 controller, which runs about a buck. Still plenty affordable, even for entry-level boards with a budget price tag. But to add a Thunderbolt controller, board manufacturers have to pony up $10 per device. That's a bit more difficult to justify on entry-level and even mid-range boards.

Fudzilla says price is the main reason we're seeing a slow adoption of Thunderbolt, but that's about to change. Acer's Aspire S5, claimed to be the world's thinnest Ultrabook, sports a 20Gbps Thunderbolt port and will ship in the second quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, AMD is prepping a similar technology called Lightning Bolt, though it's a less sexier implementation built around laptop docking stations.

In any event, do you think a Thunderbolt port is worth paying a $10 premium for?

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