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CES: AMD shows its Lightning Bolt interface behind closed doors

Steals a march on Intel's Thunderbolt
Fri Jan 13 2012, 15:37

CHIP DESIGNER AMD has shown off Lightning Bolt at CES, its answer to Intel's Thunderbolt interface.

AMD demonstrated its Lightning Bolt interface behind closed doors at CES as a way of transferring power, display and USB 3.0 connectivity over a single cable. According to Anandtech, Lightning Bolt will enable laptops using AMD's Trinity chipset to sport a mini-Displayport connection that serves as a Lightning Bolt interface.

Intel's Thunderbolt interface that appears in Apple's Macbook laptops was the first multi-use, single cable interface promising 10Gbit/s throughput per channel. Although Anandtech did not disclose the bandwidth of AMD's Lightning Bolt, it did say that USB 3.0 bandwidth using the interface would be lower than native USB 3.0 ports but higher than USB 2.0.

AMD claims that the Lightning Bolt multiplexor on the laptop should cost no more than $1 and a requires only a standard mini-Displayport cable with two pin changes. A break-out box that the firm claims will cost about the same as a USB 3.0 hub will act as a splitter.

Multi-use interfaces such as Intel's Thunderbolt and AMD's Lightning Bolt are attractive in mobile devices, allowing device manufacturers to reduce the number of ports needed. AMD could do itself a favour and change the name of its aggregated interface from Lightning Bolt, as it sounds like a cheap knock-off compared to Intel's interface.

AMD said its Lightning Bolt interface will not be ready for the launch of its upcoming Trinity chipset, but the chip design firm expects to release it before the end the year. µ


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