Can somebody tell me what exactly is the point of the Thunderbolt connector?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by saintforlife, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. saintforlife macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2011
    Who the hell buys thunderbolt accessories? I never understood why Apple and Intel had to go off and try to standardize their own new connector. I think the Thunderbolt is on its way to becoming the new firewire. It was DOA as soon as other PC makers rejected it from wide spread adoption.

    The whole idea look stupid with the new USB 3.0 itself capable of 10GBps which was the thunderbolt's main selling point. Why would people buy a new connector when there is the ubiquitous USB which can do the same thing and you can literally plug anything to it?

    And now they want to release Thunderbolt 2 with a 'flat' logo design? I bet it will fall flat on its face like its predecessor.
  2. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    It's not an issue of USB vs. Thunderbolt, just as FW and USB was not an "us vs. them" showdown. Most laymen simply don't realize USB and FW/Thunderbolt are very different I/O technologies with different intended uses.

    USB is a master/slave bus configuration, intended as a low-cost general-purpose peripheral interface. Firewire is a peer-to-peer interface, hence a costlier implementation, intended to provide highly reliable throughput and signal timing that USB does not (nor intended to) provide.

    Which is why FW (and in time as it passes applicable certifications, TB) is used in critical industrial applications like aircraft control signals and spacecraft payloads. Also why the applications are so limited in small computer market, primarily mass data storage, esp. professionals seeking very responsive high-speed storage even in high-load environments.

    I've used FW from 2000 until this year (video and storage devices) and just picked up a couple TB enclosure as I phase out my FW drives. However, FW devices are still available on the market and the Thunderbolt peripherals continue to grow, with all major storage manufacturers providing Thunderbolt solutions.
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Because it is not the same thing.

    There are other useful interfaces that provide capabilities that USB 3.0 cannot provide:

    - like SAS
    - like Fiber Channel

    These interfaces are for pros, not the everyday consumer.

    Thunderbolt brings some of that high speed capability down to the prosumer level, or to consumers who require a reliable, high-speed interface.

    Note well the lack of reliable USB 3.0 RAID systems. Many empty chassis configs at Amazon and other vendors, but also a large number of bad reviews and problem reports.

    If all you need is a single drive, then you are right, USB 3.0 can do most everything you require.

    There are many USB 3.0 peripherals out there; some certified, but most not. Your experience with them may be acceptable.

    Within the USB 3.0 spec are many capabilities, some which help deliver the similar performance for storage products, but not all devices implement the full spec capabilities.

    Can you tell from the connector or by looking at a product if a disk drive supports UAS or BOT? (check WikiPedia if you don't know what this means)

    Can you tell by looking at a cable whether you have a good cable or a flaky one? Many USB cables seem to have difficulty reliably connecting at max USB 3.0 SuperSpeed. Do you know why these flaky cables are out in the market?

    Can you tell by looking which USB 3.0 cables won't interfere with WiFi or BlueTooth

    Can you tell by looking which PCIe or ExpressCard cards that can be added to existing Macs are certified and support the full USB 3.0 spec?

    I say this not to say which is a better inteface, Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, but rather to point out that a well designed USB 3.0 device can perform well for most people, but cannot provide some of the capabilities that Thunderbolt can.

    Further, Intel has decided that all Thunderbolt devices must be certified and pass a battery of tests before being sold on the market.

    Yes, there is a USB-IF certification process, but certification is not required to sell a product. You can visit for the specs,and I can assure you that there are way too many USB 3.0 products on the market that cannot comply with the specs.

    So...long story short, if USB 3.0 devices meet your requirement, then go for it. Just remember there is a smaller group of users whose needs are being met by Thunderbolt, when USB 3.0 cannot.

    Disclaimer: I am the happy user of both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt devices on both Macs as well as PCs. Alas, my g4cube cannot be upgraded to either USB 3.0, USB 2.0, or Thunderbolt. Only a very slow USB 1.1 set of ports, and 2 FW400 ports. :)
  4. Outrigger macrumors 68000


    Dec 22, 2008
    Seems you don't really know what Thunderbolt does or fail to understand what the purpose of it is. There is a difference between USB3.0 being capable of achieving 10GBps vs. actually getting anywhere near it in real life. Just because you have no need for a pickup truck doesn't mean its useless. Get it?
  5. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    People that understand what it is and need it. Why do you ask? If you don't see the point then move on.
  6. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Might want to recheck your facts.

    USB 3.0 is only capable of 4.8Gbps.
    The next version of USB 3, most likely will be named USB 3.1, will be capable of 10Gbps but it has not been released yet.

    Additionally your measure of data is not correct.

    bytes ≠ bits
    B ≠ b
  7. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I use LaCie TB drives for all external storage. Works far faster than any other transport options. TB version 2 spec has been announced with a updated controller chip that doubles the speed. TB2 will be backwards compatible with TB1.

    So by the end of 2014 we may have the options of USB 3 and TB 2. It is always good to have choices.
  8. Volkan1984 macrumors member

    Feb 7, 2013
    Plus, Thunderbolt 2nd gen is capable of 20Gbps per lane (as opposed to Thunderbolt 10Gbps per lane).
  9. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    TB '2' is still 4 lanes (2 in each direction). It's just that when the new controller detects another TB '2' controller on the other end, it will aggregate the two channels going in/out into one channel of 20Gbps in each direction.

    The net bandwidth doesn't change.
  10. Outrigger macrumors 68000


    Dec 22, 2008
    They're not my facts, I was quoting the OP.

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