ExpressCard/34 to Thunderbolt adapter?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by james*b, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. james*b macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Is there any chance of an ExpressCard/34 to Thunderbolt adapter coming to market for pre 2011 Macbook Pros anytime soon?
  2. james*b thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Oh dear. Why is that then?
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003

    Seriously though, Thunderbolt provides high speed access to PCIe bus and graphics. All at speeds greater than what an ExpressCard slot can provide. Further, there are no graphics/video outputs on the ExpressCard slot. The power available from ExpressCard also is not enough to meet the Thunderbolt spec.

    While it is technically possible to design a card that would plug-in to the PCIe bus, it would also have to provide graphics capability or have an input to provide graphics from another source. The Thunderbolt connector has to provide power + PCIe I/O, and DisplayPort graphics.

    ExpressCard cannot meet these requirements.
  4. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    It's not as clear cut as you make it out to be.

    The expresscard standard is the precursor to what you described. It had the benefit of functioning in either USB 2.0 or 3.0 mode as well, but essentially it was an external method of externally tapping into the PCIe.

    Unfortunately, it was limited to 2.5Gbps in PCIe mode (A single-lane PCIe). By comparison, Thunderbolt can operate up to 10Gbps (4-lane PCIe). However, the biggest difference in the technology is that Thunderbolt multiplexes video with the port allowing both video & data to be transferred from a single link.

    To look at it another way, Thunderbolt is the successor to Expresscard. Or in another way:

    Expresscard 2.0 = USB 2.0 + USB 3.0 + PCIe 1x
    Thunderbolt = PCIe 4x + Video Output

    That also means that, with the exception of video output, Expresscards can be used for many of the same purposes as Thunderbolt, including Firewire, USB, SATA and Gigabit ethernet.
  5. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Still not able to provide the 10watts of power from the ExpressCard slot; would require an external power supply.

    And as both you and I state in different ways, will also not meet the performance requirements.

    I assume the original question was about the ExpressCard slot on older, existing laptops. Not some new enhancement of an ExpressCard implementation.

    Bottom line, it's not going to happen - there won't be any Thunderbolt card for current ExpressCard slots.

    Thunderbolt is the new expansion capability for laptops, and some desktops and all-in-one computers.
  6. james*b thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2011
    Thanks for the explanations.
    I was hoping there might one day be an adapter to connect a 2009 Macbook Pro to a Thunderbolt-only drive, but it does sound very unlikely :(
  7. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
  8. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Not likely to be a serious business case for anyone to make one for MBs with card slots. Sell the 2011 machine while you can get max amount for it and get a top MBair or rMBP. A top rMBP costs around $1000 less now than at launch.

Share This Page