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Intel preps Thunderbolt docking tech for Ultrabooks

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Intel is developing a would-be standard docking connector for Ultrabooks. The technology is based on its Thunderbolt bus.

The spec, revealed by VR-Zone, calls for a chunky plug that combines a mini Thunderbolt port and a proprietary connector for power and other data buses.

What vendors connect the other end to is up to them: port replicators, full desktop docking systems, or even DisplayPort monitors with an array of USB, Firewire and other ports, along the lines of Apple's Thunderbolt monitor, which delivers three USB 2.0 ports, Firewire 800, video and Ethernet over a single Thunderbolt cable.

The notion is that such tech will make slimline Ultrabooks with fewer ports than a full-size laptop more attractive. It would also help pitch the Ultrabook as a better desktop PC alternative, Intel reckons. Both, it hopes, will help sell Ultrabooks to business as well as consumers.

There's no indication when - or even if - vendors will build this into Ultrabooks, but Intel's docking system is most likely to debut with its upcoming 'Ivy Bridge' processor platform, which will form the basis for second-generation Ultrabooks in Q2 2012. ®

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