Thunderbolt breaks out of Apple's Walled Garden -

Intel appears to have found other customers for its Thunderbolt standard.

Previously the only outfit to have announced supporting the standard was Apple.

Unfortunately for the fruity cargo cult, Sony is enthusiastically backing the technology because it wants a slice of Apple's MacBook Air market.

Sony has redesigned its VAIO Z laptop, which is scheduled to arrive in Europe at the end of July and will feature a proprietary version of Intel's Thunderbolt technology. To be fair the press statement does not mention Thunderbolt by name but talks about having a proprietary version of Intel's "Light Peak". Light Peak is the precursor to Thunderbolt.

The 13.1-inch VAIO Z weighs 2.6 pounds and is .86 inches thick. To keep the beast small and thin Sony moved the optical drive and dedicated graphics to an external box. It called this the Power Media Dock because that sounds a lot better than "left over bits we could not fit in to the main computer".

It also has WiFi, optional 3G, a 1.3MP webcam, HDMI, a backlit keyboard and a button-less touchpad.

One thing that has gone from the VAIO Z is the Mini DisplayPort that Sony developed with Apple.

The Power Media Dock has a connection for a Blu-ray optical drive and AMD Radeon graphics, ethernet port, extra USB ports, and the VGA and HDMI outputs.

It is powerful for its size. It will have an Intel Sandy Bridge 2.7GHz Core i7 processor that can run at 3.4GHz with Turbo Boost with the wind behind it. It also has up to 256GB of SSD RAID storage.

The VAIO Z has the novelty of a Quick Boot feature that loads Windows 7 "up to 50 per cent quicker than conventional notebooks."

No word on price, but that Intel chip would not be cheap.

Meanwhile it seems that Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals are expected to arrive soon.

Storage maker LaCie has been showing off a "Little Big Disk" Thunderbolt solid-state drive which can read speeds of up to 827.2 MB per second.

Several high end video equipment vendors are preparing breakout boxes and other devices that will take advantage of the technology.