These days USB 3.0, an extra-speedy connectivity technology is supported by an increasing number of peripherals like external hard drives or thumb drives. And it's become quite mainstream in the PC market, even showing up in mid-range models like the Micro-Star International Comp., Ltd.'s (TPE:2377) $700 MSI FX603 notebook.
But customers of Apple Inc. (AAPL) -- the third largest computer-maker in the U.S. -- are willing to settle for paying as much $3,000 or more for some high end "fully loaded" notebooks or $5,000 on some desktops without a scrap of USB 3.0 support.
Ex-CEO Steve Jobs claimed customers didn't care about USB 3.0 and it wasn't time for them to be allowed to get it, anyways. Apple instead offers customers Thunderbolt, an early copper-based implementation of Intel Corp.'s (INTC) upcoming fiber-optic "LightPeak" technology.
LightPeak offers 20 Gbit/s bidirectional data transmission versus up to 5 Gbit/s with USB 3.0. While that sounds like a favorable trade, one relatively minor downside to this arrangement is that Apple customers have to pony up a whopping $50 USD per cable, thanks to the slew of microchips inside the complicated design. Further, while an extra $50 on a $5000 computer may not seem that bad, the lack of selection in terms of ThunderBolt peripherals offers a far more pressing issue for Apple computer users.
Now with a new CEO at the head of Apple the rumor has popped up yet again that the company will finally catch up to PCs in hardware by offering its customers USB 3.0.
VR-Zone writes, "A lot of people have been disappointed over Apple's lack of interest in the USB 3.0 standard, but thanks to a little bird, VR-Zone has heard that the company is still looking at USB 3.0 as a potential feature to add on future products. As to when and how this might happen is not something we know, but from our understanding it'll happen before Intel integrates USB 3.0 support into its chipsets."
The important word in that comment is "before". Intel is supposed to drop in support for the USB 3.0 standard in its Ivy Bridge CPU series, which will launch in 2012. If VR-Zone's source is correct Apple could be preparing to deliver USB 3.0 slightly ahead of schedule in late 2011.
If Apple does that it'd probably have to go with a third party chip to add compatibility to its stock Intel chipset. That wouldn't be the first time Apple has done this -- its a well known secret that back in 2010 it hacked at the stock chipsets to allow graphics switching (similar to Optimus) between the integrated GPU in the Intel CPU core and the dedicated onboard NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) GeForce GPU.
Hopefully the rumors are true, after all, from our perspective there's little excuse to be peddling a $5,000 computer that lacks USB 3.0 support found in $700 Windows PCs.