Are there any HDMI to ThunderBolt adapters yet?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by mbarriault, May 26, 2013.

  1. mbarriault macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2008
    Many will remember the Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs and Cinema Displays being made no longer compatible with DisplayPort inputs, rendering the available adapters useless. However, as they do work with ThunderBolt video inputs (intently from Macs as they were the only machines equipped), there was hope that HDMI to ThunderBolt adapters would eventually see market.

    Has this happened yet? It's incredibly difficult to search for due to how much more common ThunderBolt to HDMI is.
  2. Richdmoore macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    Nothing yet to allow you to plug in a hdmi device (bluray player/xbox) and output it in target display mode. There is a thunderbolt capture device, my understanding is the lag makes it unusable as a real time display.
  3. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    I believe the term you're looking for is Mini DisplayPort rather than Thunderbolt. In this case it would be a simple audio/video transfer without data so it wouldn't have to do with Thunderbolt other than using the same connector.

    I'm not aware such an adapter exist but you could simply use a mDP to HDMI cable directly rather than an adapter + HDMI cable.

    See this one for example:

    I'm not sure if it would work in you specific scenario however.
  4. mbarriault thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 3, 2008
    No, it's ThunderBolt. Pre-ThunderBolt iMacs could accept Mini DisplayPort as input to use them as external displays, but now they only accept ThunderBolt. As they are not completely electrically compatible, HDMI to DisplayPort is not the same as DisplayPort to HDMI. ThunderBolt is backwards compatible with DisplayPort, but DisplayPort is not forwards compatible with ThunderBolt, thus requiring new input adapters, which is what I'm looking for.
  5. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    There will never be an HDMI to Thunderbolt adapter. HDMI cannot carry data nor power.
  6. spiitz macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    HDMI to Thunderbolt IS possible

    Your statement is NOT accurate.

    While HDMI does not carry power, it does carry the necessary video information, for displaying video on a screen. An adaptor CAN provide anything the HDMI signal is missing to convert it into a Thunderbolt signal, including power.

    The only thing necessary is a power adapter with the correct chip and driver from Intel. This is why it would be an adaptor because it would adapt the HDMI signal into a Thunderbolt signal.

    There is no fundamental law of physics that would prevent such an adapter from being created.
  7. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    If is not backwards compatible then adapters are not going to work. Not "backwards" compatible means not working. Not that the format needs to be converted. If one of the ways is "backward" compatible then the other is "forward" compatible. Things are rarely forward compatible.

    Theoretically it is possible but would need much more than an adapter and much more of a contraption. There are 3 major conversations that need to take place.

    a. turn HDMI into DisplayPort. ( If go look not going to find many, if any, of these on open market )

    b. input the DisplayPort signal into a host mode Thunderbolt controller ( meaning you need a CPU and pass TB host mode certification ).

    c. need new non Apple host to implement Apple's non standard Target TB mode protocol.

    In short, you need a Mac clone (at least from the Target TB mode perspective) hardware. That is a bit more than an adapter.

    Thunderbolt devices primarily just talk to other Thunderbolt devices. There is an except only when plug in a DisplayPort (DP) device and a special "pass thru"/"backwards" mode is enabled when now (with DP device ) at the end of a Thunderbolt daisy chain.


    It is far more a fundamental law of economics. By the time have created a host Thunderbolt device to invoke target TB mode the cost of the "adapter" is going to be sky high that no one will buy it.

    It just isn't simply a matter of converting video signal format and adding a small power supply.
  8. spiitz macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    Still pontificating

    The only fundamental law of economics at play is Intel's tight control over the TB chip. It is not an issue of cost as you suggest, only access.

    Plenty of people would pay for such an adaptor, and Kanex has already stated that they wish to make such a device as soon as Intel will allow them to utilize their TB chip.

    Your a,b,c points sound nice, but those limitations are simply licensing issues. The TB protocol supports HDMI just fine, if you have Intel's chip, and once the HDMI signal is being passed via TB, other TB devices have no problem accepting the signal.

    MDP does not play a role, and you don't need Target Display mode either, but there is no reason that you could not utilize that function if allowed.

    Black Magic Designs makes the Intensity Extreme video capture device that uses Intel's TB chip. This is a real world example showing it is quite possible to send HDMI directly to your iMac over TB. There is no lag issues with the device either as TB is more than fast enough.

    The ONLY reason the BMD Intensity Extreme is not suitable for gaming on your iMac is because they do not offer a full screen mode. This is likely a condition set forth by Intel to allow BMD to pass hdmi through their TB chip.

    This device does a lot more than is needed for a simple hdmi to TB adaptor, but it would still be worth buying just for gaming if it was a full screen option.

    The irony of all this, is that TB is designed to be an all inclusive format, but Intel is thwarting the benefits of their own technology by limiting who it will allow to use the chips, and for what they can use it to do.

    As TB ports become more common on devices like computers, monitors, A/V Receivers you will see how easy/cheap it is to send HDMI signals over TB connections to other TB devices.

    Stop making up reasons why such a device cannot be made, the only reason is that Intel does not want this device made yet, and Apple is simply playing along as co-conspirator.
  9. spiitz macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2013
    Actually it is that simple.

    You simply need power and the right chips to encode HDMI onto the TB transport layer in the form of a DP audio video signal.

    TB devices may require the TB protocol for input of DP or Data signals, but TB is specifically designed to transport that information quite efficiently.

    Again, it is all about licensing, not technology limitations.
  10. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Intel isn't going to approve folks who implement 1/2 of Thunderbolt and disable the some of the functionality of other Thunderbolt devices.

    Not it doesn't. TB transports PCI-e and DispalyPort. That's it.

    To transport HDMI as data not as a video signal. The Intensity extreme does the same thing the Intensity Pro does.

    It is the same basic device is slightly different packaging. An Inttensity Pro would not solve the user's problems. The Pro has the same limitations, specs, and connectors.

    The primary issue your sweeping under the rug is that any Thunderbolt device you'd be connect to with this "adapter" are not just displays. What connecting to ( e.g., Apple Thunderbolt docking station/Display or iMac ) are not displays.

    Actually not. It is designed for two. PCI-e was to be the "catch all" reduction protocol since it is the it is typicaly used in that mode internal to most host PCs. It is inclusive because most discrete controllers can add to a how do a reduction down into PCI-e.
  11. Htin macrumors regular


    Mar 6, 2013
    so.... buy using the Black Magic Intensity Extreme, will I be able to play my ps3/xbox on my imac 27" late 2012?
  12. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Not really. You could capture/record the source. You probably just monitor that feed as a "display". But if talking just flipping the iMac into "dumb monitor mode", no.
  13. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Not to mention there would probably be a latency involved since it would have to be encoded by the Black Magic Intensity Pro and then decoded by some video player (i.e. VLC).

    Even with the old Apple Cinema Displays, there were no "cheap" HDMI to Displayport converters. Now with Thunderbolt, you are adding a lot more "stuff" to get it to work (if even possible).

    If people really want something like this, get a Dell or other monitor that has multiple inputs. Seems like this would be wwwaaaayyyy cheaper.
  14. Htin macrumors regular


    Mar 6, 2013
    aww ok... pity i upgraded my imac 2011 to the 2012 then...

    on another note, it is possible to hook up my cable tv box which uses hdmi or composite to my imac using elgato products?
  15. Pieër macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2013
    BM intensity extreme

    @ spiitz,

    If I understand you correctly, it is not yet possible to hook my apple thunderbolt display to my iMac via the BM intensity extreme? I would like to do this to use the cinema display as video monitor when I am editing with Avid (or final cut).
    But there is a chance that once it will be possible? If intel is willing to cooperate?
  16. lulla01 macrumors 68020


    Jul 13, 2007
  17. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    I have a MiniDisplayPort - HDMI adaptor that I purchased in early 2010 before Thunderbolt was announced.
    It still works on my 2013 MBA, 2012 rMBP, 2012 iMac, 2012 Mac Mini.

    I don't look for Thunderbolt to whatever unless I am using data.
    I look for MiniDisplayPort to whatever if I am using it for video.

    Is this not the type of connector you're talking about? A connector with a mini display port connector on one end and an HDMI connection on the opposite?
    Or are you talking about using it from a output source into the Mac?

    Check monoprice.
  18. Pieër macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2013
    From the thunderbolt port on the back of my iMac I go to a BM intensity extreme. Now I want to connect the output of the BM to a apple cinema display (thunderbolt version).

    The BM had different outputs, there is an image of them attached.

    Can I use this? Otherwise the cinema display is useless.


    Attached Files:

  19. alexfeature macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2014
    Hi Guys,

    I read through this post and didn't find an answer that involved a Thunderbolt display. Here is my predicament :

    I have an old MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 / Pre Thunderbolt) and an extra ThunderBolt 27" which I wanted to connect to the laptop.

    According to Apple and a ton of posts online (dated around 2011) this is not possible since Thunderbolt is only supported on Thunderbolt enabled devices starting from Mid 2011 ranges.

    A quick search reviled that there are Thunderbolt to HDMI and MiniDisplay to HDMI adapters. So I figure Thunderbolt to HDMI + Male to Male HDMI + HDMI to Mini Display => Old MacBook with shiny Thunderbolt.

    I understand (or at least I think I do) that iMacs don't support input through thunderbolt/hdmi adapter but the displays must since they are displays after all :)

    Is this going to work?

  20. alexfeature macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2014
    Just what I thought after reading some other posts on this forum.
    Thanks for the answer though.

  21. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Yeah one of those adapter is going the wrong way for what you want. These kinds of adapters are one way. So you are thinking Mac DP to HDMI - HDMI to TB Display, but the direction of the HDMI to TB adapter is the wrong way and its illegal to go the wrong way on a one way street :) .
  22. oscar5690 macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2013
    there will also never be electricity in the home, and horse and carriage will never be replaced
  23. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Turning HDMI into TB is like turning coal to gold :) Many a fool have lost big bucks on that endeavor. Just not physically possible.

    HDMI to display port perhaps as thats just video. The TB data signals are not in HDMI, so ... well... it would be like turning coal into gold.
  24. emanueldg macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2015
    Here's your solution: BlackMagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder - Thunderbolt, not as cheap as an adaptor/cable; but gets the job done. Hope this helps!

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