Intel Sounds Off on Future of Thunderbolt
TAIPEI—From the swank surroundings of the Bellavita art gallery here, Intel used Computex to reinforce its commitment to the next-generation Thunderbolt data transfer protocol and to discuss what we can expect to from it in 2012 and beyond.
Thunderbolt, which was introduced early last year, combines the PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort protocols into one that is capable of bidirectionally transferring data across a single, daisy-chainable cable at speeds of up to 10Gbps. Thunderbolt even uses native PCIe and DisplayPort software drivers and can provide power (over electrical cables only).
Continuing with the theme of the year for Intel and for Computex itself, Jason Ziller, Intel's director of marketing for Thunderbolt, said that the technology will first and foremost be considered an "ultrabook 'amplifier'" that extends the capabilities of the super-light systems by giving them considerably greater storage and display potential. (Intel said that the smaller profile of the Thunderbolt port, which is visually identical to a Mini DisplayPort jack, makes it ideal for thinner systems like ultrabooks.)
Ziller pointed out that more than Thunderbolt devices for the Mac were released following the protocol's debut in 2007, but that they shouldn't automatically be assumed to work with the Thunderbolt ports that are just now beginning to appear on PCs. (The Acer Aspire S5, also announced at Computex, is the first ultrabook to include a Thunderbolt port.) Every Thunderbolt device requires Windows-certified drivers for full functionality, including "hot plugging" (connecting a Thunderbolt device to a PC that is already turned on), though performance should already be pretty good. During a demonstration with a Promise Pegasus loaded with four solid-state drives, Ziller boasted of read speeds of over 600MBps and write speeds upwards of 400MBps, in both cases approximately the same you could expect from a Mac.
Acer Announces New Windows 8 Laptops, Tablets, All-in-Ones
TAIPEI—Acer Chairman and CEO J.T. Wang reinforced his company's strong commitment to the upcoming version of Microsoft's flagship operating system by announcing here at Computex a wide new collection of laptops, tablets, and all-in-one desktops designed exclusively to run on Windows 8.
Wang described the new version of the OS as a "historical moment in the Windows ecosystem," and in describing it said, "This is truly unique—[something] no other competitor can match. Maybe it will take some time for users to really appreciate, but it's a huge breakthrough done by Microsoft."
The Aspire S7 is a full-fledged ultrabook (the flagship of the S series) with an aluminum unibody design, a sculpted glass cover, and a full HD display; it's available in 13.1-inch and 11.6-inch screen sizes, each of which is incredibly space-efficient. (Acer claims the former is the thinnest full HD, or 1,920-by-1,200, touch ultrabook and the latter is the smallest.) Both laptops are outfitted with Acer's Twin Air cooling system and a keyboard that's capable of dynamically adjusting its backlighting to help you type better even in low light. The 13.3-inch model reportedly runs on battery for 12 hours, and the 11.6-inch version for nine.
In the tablet realm, Acer unveiled the Iconia W510, which has a 10.1-inch display and tri-mode touch, and boasts up to 18 hours of battery life. The 11.6-inch W700 comes with not just a touch screen capable of displaying full HD images and video, but also a special cradle that can be adjusted for different viewing scenarios.
As far as viewing options go, the Acer Aspire 7600U delivers a lot of them. This 27-inch all-in-one, which measures just 35mm thick, has a 64-point capacitive multitouch screen and can be tilted to any angle from zero to 90 degrees—that's completely flat, and it can swivel in all directions when it's placed in that position. Acer says its littler brother, the 23-inch 5600U, is the smallest all-in-one PC that can tilt from 30 to 85 degrees.
Report: Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks Are a Go for Computex
Computer makers will showcase plenty of ultrabooks sporting Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge mobile processor platform at June's Computex electronics show in Taiwan, DigiTimes reported late last week.
The Taiwan-based tech journal noted that the very first ultrabooks with Ivy Bridge will likely turn up when the chip giant launches the platform a month or so earlier, but that "major product lines ... [with] mainstream Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 processors" from the likes of Acer and Asus will hit the market around the same time as Computex, being held from June 5-9 in Taipei.
Microsoft is also tipped to discuss more details about its upcoming Windows 8 operating system at Computex 2012, DigiTimes reported. The company "is expected to cooperate with its PC partners to showcase products that are running Windows 8 and may reveal more details about Windows on ARM," the site said.
Computex 2012 will host 1,800 exhibitors showing their wares at 5,400 booths, including 50 booth spaces rented each by Intel, Acer, and Asus, DigiTimes reported, citing sources affiliated with the show.