If AMD doesn't want to be thought of as a company that's always following Intel's lead, it sure isn't doing itself any favors with one of its latest ideas. It's apparently planning an alternative to the Thunderbolt interface with the oh-so-subtle name of ... Lightning Bolt.
According to AnandTech, which received a demo at CES, the new cable will provide USB 3.0, DisplayPort, and power capabilities using a single mini-DisplayPort cable. As with Thunderbolt, you'll be able to use an external dock to interface between the connector and your PC, or with a laptop, manufacturers can integrate a Lightning Bolt mux into the system.
AMD admits that you will not get full USB 3.0 throughput speeds using the Lightning Bolt connector, though it claims speeds will be faster than USB 2.0. So in one sense, Lightning Bolt really isn't a threat to Thunderbolt at all, since Intel's technology promises much faster throughputs. But as is often AMD's way, its implementation appears to be a cheaper option, with the company saying the Lightning Bolt mux setup should only cost about a dollar.
But because the first Lightning Bolt products aren't expected until the end of the year, Thunderbolt will have a healthy head start with its next-generation interface technology, despite the higher prices. If it can't lower them by year's end, however, then Lightning Bolt might have a shot at making a mark.