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Apr 12, 2001
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The slow trickle of new Thunderbolt products continues. Seagate has begun selling a $99 Thunderbolt SATA adapter for portable (2.5") external hard drives:

thunder.png



The GoFlex series is a set of external hard drives with interchangeable interface adapters that allow their hard drives to switch between different interfaces. Existing adapters include USB 3.0, Firewire, and eSATA. This new adapter offers Thunderbolt support for existing portable GoFlex customers. One reader notes that the interface is simply an SATA interface, so this adapter could be used with any bare 2.5" SATA hard drive.

Seagate first announced the Thunderbolt adapters at CES and is also planning on offering a desktop version of the adapter for $199 in February.

Macworld had a hands on with the portable unit and found it did indeed perform faster than Firewire 800 (and of course USB)
Using the new Thunderbolt adapter, we saw write speeds of 78.8MBps, or 40 percent faster than FireWire 800. Read speeds were about 79.3MBps, about 13 percent faster than FireWire 800.
The performance gains were only so big since they were testing against a single non-SSD drive. Previous Thunderbolt benchmarks have shown much larger boosts but only when using SSD and RAID configurations, eliminating some of the drive bottlenecks.

As it's aimed at the portable market, there are some other limitations with the device. The device only has a single Thunderbolt port, so it must be at the end of the chain. However, it is also bus-powered so no external power supply is required. (The upcoming $199 desktop model reportedly will have an external power supply and additional Thunderbolt port.) Also, the $99 price doesn't include a Thunderbolt cable which still runs $50 at the Apple online store.

So, the entire setup will add a $150 premium to your hard drive purchase, but is one of the few single-drive external Thunderbolt drive options available today.

Update: Note, that Seagate's GoFlex adapter is simply a standard SATA connector, so it could be used as a bare 2.5" SATA Hard Drive -> Thunderbolt adapter.

Article Link: Seagate Starts Selling GoFlex Portable Thunderbolt Adapter
 

ironsienna

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2010
215
0
Personally I believe that thunderbolt will be the standard in the next 2-3 years. It's gonna be the new USB.. Cant wait for thunderbolt 500 Giga memory sticks!!!!
 
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JesterJJZ

macrumors 68020
Jul 21, 2004
2,433
783
Eh...adapters should not cost more than then drives they connect to...fail...
 
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kyjaotkb

macrumors 6502a
Nov 20, 2009
712
415
London, UK
Makes me want USB3 so badly... Low cost implementation, dirt-cheap cables, dirt-cheap drives, plenty of speed...
 
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Icaras

macrumors 603
Mar 18, 2008
6,255
2,979
I noticed this on Seagate's site the other day. This is quite nice, albeit pricey. But this is really what I've been looking for: a single drive solution.

But as it is, Seagate doesn't yet sell any external SSD drives, so we're stuck with mechanical for now.
 
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grahamnp

macrumors 6502a
Jun 4, 2008
969
4
For 99 and 199 + 50 for a cable, you would have to have really specific requirements or just a lot of money to throw around to buy one.

What do you think could be driving the cost up? The TB controller is an estimated $20-30 whereas USB 3.0 controllers are a few dollars. I'm assuming that Seagate knows that nobody will buy them if they try and get unusually large margins from this so where is that extra money going?
 
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ryandeean

macrumors newbie
Mar 21, 2011
1
0
I don't understand, are we saying that this clips on to a normal Firewire 800 external hard drive and improves the speed it can read and write by 40%? How is that possible?
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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That is quite a hefty looking adapter! I see ventilation—does it have a fan too??

My portable 1TB GoFlex drive runs about 61MB/s write and 70MB/s read using FireWire 800. Those speeds are about twice as much as the USB 3.0 adapter (2.0 limited on MBP) speeds. I bought it about two months ago right before the drive prices spiked ($89), so it's a newer model. So that increase is only about 30% faster on the write and the same 13% on the read for me, unless my speedier drive somehow translates higher on Thunderbolt—which I'm not sure if that makes any technical sense in this scenario.

So $150. And my portable drive is bulkier. And I can't connect my external monitor unless I have the latest Apple Cinema Display so it can be at the end of the chain? And the speed improvements aren't all that fantastic because they don't even offer an SSD model of the GoFlex as of this writing?

This seems like a gimmick at this point. Most people have these cheap portable externals to either backup documents on or to store extra media on and keep in their laptop bag. They're not using them as a scratch disk while rendering 4k video. These would never be fast enough for that or even lighter work of that nature. These are for storing documents and grabbing files while on the go. I have an SSD in my MBP for working on the actual file once I offload it from the GoFlex. For most people FireWire 800 will work fine—unless they have a Macbook Air. This might be slightly useful for photographers who keep a lot of RAW files on their externals that they frequently access.

Until it gets down to $20 like the FireWire adapter this is a no buy for me—especially with a $50 cable. It will be great when you can get a TB cable for $10 and an adapter for less than $30. Here's to hoping two things happen: the higher cost of disk drives causes SSD drives to come down in price, and the adoption of TB by lower-end and mainstream PC makers will cause the TB accessories and cables to drop in price as well. I eventually want everything daisy-chained so when I come home and plug in my MBP I only need to hookup one high-speed data cable and I'm good to go.
 
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arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
15,758
4,615
I don't understand, are we saying that this clips on to a normal Firewire 800 external hard drive and improves the speed it can read and write by 40%? How is that possible?

no, seagate offers drives that connect to different adapters.

if you connect it to the Thunderbolt adapter, it's 40% faster than if you connect it to the Firewire adapter.

arn

----------

My portable 1TB GoFlex drive runs about 61MB/s write and 70MB/s read using FireWire 800. Those speeds are about twice as much as the USB 3.0 adapter (2.0 limited on MBP) speeds. I bought it about two months ago right before the drive prices spiked ($89), so it's a newer model. So that increase is only about 30% faster on the write and the same 13% on the read for me, unless my speedier drive somehow translates higher on Thunderbolt—which I'm not sure if that makes any technical sense in this scenario.

Ya, I think MacBook Air owners could be a target, since they are stuck with usb 2.0.

arn
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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Central U.S.
I don't understand, are we saying that this clips on to a normal Firewire 800 external hard drive and improves the speed it can read and write by 40%? How is that possible?

It's possible because most mechanical hard drives are actually faster than the FireWire 800 interface that they are connecting to. Data density and the way blocks are written and read from the hard drive have increased speed by quite a bit in mechanical drives over the years. I haven't looked it up in a while, but I think most of the better 2.5" mechanical drives run 100-150MB/s. I think under optimal conditions FW800 runs around 100MB/s but I don't think you see that in real world conditions, just like with many other interfaces, you shave a percentage off of that, and with variations in controllers and cabling—you get the picture. More like the 70MB/s I was getting.
 
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madrag

macrumors 6502
Nov 2, 2007
361
72
13% faster?

I just copied a 700MB file via FW800 and it only took 9 seconds, that's an average 77MB read speed, I don't undestand how that adapter has "more" 13% than this?

EDIT: I missread, but the read speed is also wrong in those percentages...
 
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joshskidmore

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2012
4
0
Charleston, SC
It's a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA Cable

I just ordered one of these and the Apple Thunderbolt cable.

I've been using GoFlex drives for a couple years now. What's great about the adapters is that it's just a typical SATA+power connector which allows you to plug in ANY 2.5" SATA drive using any of the adapters (USB2, USB3, Firewire, etc). Because the Thunderbolt adapter is compatible with any GoFlex portable drive, you essentially have a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA cable.

For example, here's an image of a GoFlex USB3 adapter connected to a non-GoFlex drive.

I just wanted to point that out because it's not really known to people not using GoFlex products.
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,523
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Central U.S.
I just ordered one of these and the Apple Thunderbolt cable.

I've been using GoFlex drives for a couple years now. What's great about the adapters is that it's just a typical SATA+power connector which allows you to plug in ANY 2.5" SATA drive using any of the adapters (USB2, USB3, Firewire, etc). Because the Thunderbolt adapter is compatible with any GoFlex portable drive, you essentially have a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA cable.

For example, here's an image of a GoFlex USB3 adapter connected to a non-GoFlex drive.

I just wanted to point that out because it's not really known to people not using GoFlex products.

I didn't think about that. Yeah, they use that standard SATA because all hard drives have that, and that's how they're able to sell all of these different connectors that just work out of the box. What troubles me is that this connector, unlike the others, has a bottom plate. So to connect to a drive that is thicker or perhaps is a 3.5" drive you might have to get an extension cable. POSSIBLY.

Does anyone know if this TB controller could hook up to something like this SATA hub (or something similar to this) to add a bunch of devices? Then could said devices be run in RAID 0?

Link: http://www.cooldrives.com/index.php/sahub5muussi.html

Also—how feasible is it that we could run a USB 2.0 hub through this? 20 ports baby full speed!! Or a couple USB 3.0? I kind of want to get this just to hack it now...
 
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smetvid

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2009
472
241
Yes thunderbolt is faster then USB3 and I understand the point to future proofing so Apple can continue to use the same port for many years to come but this is just silly.

First Apple gets rid of FW800 in the cheaper computers it sells. Then it comes out with a port that forces people to use something where devices cost a lot more.

Apple really should have supported USB3. It is almost a no brainer since it is backwards compatible and it costs much less.

The truth about these portable drives is that they can physically only go so fast. Even 3.5" desktop drives are limited to what they can physically pump out. As soon as you put any data on a single drive they start to slow down. By the time a drive gets to 50% full it isn't running as fast as it did when it was empty. Even a 2 drive raid-0 can only go so fast with magnetic drives and will be limited in speed to less then what USB3 can already do. You would need at least a 4 drive raid-0 or a 2 drive raid-0 with good SSD's to get anywhere near thunderbolt speeds.

Thunderbolt is nice and I plan on using it for other devices but for storage it is a couple of years ahead of its time. Some may consider that awesome but it just isn't practical yet unless like somebody said you are one of the poor suckers on a MBA. The MBA could have easily had USB3 however for a much lower cost and easier to find products. I love Apple products but I wish more users would stand up and speak out about these types of decisions.

The one advantage to this adapter is that it can move from drive to drive. This means if companies do start selling portable drives with TB they could cost $100.00 more then non TB versions of the same drive. With this adapter you can get by with only paying for TB once which can be huge if you really have to use TB over FW800.

The desktop version for $199.00 is nuts. The TB stuff costs them the same and the only difference is the form factor of the dock and a power connector. Why this should cost an extra $100.00 makes no sense at all.
 
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parapup

macrumors 65816
Oct 31, 2006
1,291
49
Thunderbolt is turning into a massive bag of hurt! $99 for adapter and $50 for a cable! Meanwhile I am quite happy with my USB3 drive that requires none of this baloney.
 
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Exhale

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2011
509
140
Cant wait for thunderbolt 500 Giga memory sticks!!!!
Yeah, because everyone wants to pay 10x more for the interface than the actual storage medium.

Thunerbolt is terrible as a widespread interconnect because of the controller chip cost, limited chaining capability, and system resource costs.
 
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Koodauw

macrumors 68040
Nov 17, 2003
3,943
180
Madison
Ya, I think MacBook Air owners could be a target, since they are stuck with usb 2.0.

arn

Which this would work well for. Right now if you want something faster than USB 2.0 the only option is the LaCie Little Big Drives drives which are $500 at the cheapest.
 
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cg0def

macrumors regular
Feb 9, 2009
141
0
if you work back the numbers it would seem that you get about 55MB/s on the firewire adapter. I have one of these at home with a 2.5" drive connected to it (yes it is the same drive that came with the kit and not a replacement 3rd party one). Anyway so I get something like 51 MB/s which is absolutely stunning considering it's a 2.5" drive. I guess the FW one tops out at 55 but the problem that I am having is understanding why Seagate believes that they need anything over 55 with 2.5" drives that can't do anything over 50-51 if you're lucky ...
And frankly, it will be years before a 2.5" magnetic drive can go past the limitations of FW800 (and no I don't mean server drives). What would be a much better investment IMHO is one of the docking stations that Seagate sells with an ability to run a RAID config over a thunderbolt link. Now that i would probably buy!

EDIT: just so a previous comment ... yeah MBA does not have an FW800 port and they would definitely be the target audience for this. Actually that makes a lot of sense. Hope it is part of the Mac drives that Seagate sells just like the FW800 adapter is.

----------

I didn't think about that. Yeah, they use that standard SATA because all hard drives have that, and that's how they're able to sell all of these different connectors that just work out of the box. What troubles me is that this connector, unlike the others, has a bottom plate. So to connect to a drive that is thicker or perhaps is a 3.5" drive you might have to get an extension cable. POSSIBLY.

Does anyone know if this TB controller could hook up to something like this SATA hub (or something similar to this) to add a bunch of devices? Then could said devices be run in RAID 0?

Link: http://www.cooldrives.com/index.php/sahub5muussi.html

Also—how feasible is it that we could run a USB 2.0 hub through this? 20 ports baby full speed!! Or a couple USB 3.0? I kind of want to get this just to hack it now...

No you can't hook this up to the SATA hub because they use different SATA connectors. That hub that you are looking at uses external SATA and the Seagate connectors use the full size connector. Also another problem that you are going to run into, is the requirement that the hub presents all drives as a one virtual device. Obviously it doesn't do that so the short answer is NO you can't do that and mostly likely won't ever be able to do it.
 
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sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,299
266
Sarcasmville.
I just ordered one of these and the Apple Thunderbolt cable.

I've been using GoFlex drives for a couple years now. What's great about the adapters is that it's just a typical SATA+power connector which allows you to plug in ANY 2.5" SATA drive using any of the adapters (USB2, USB3, Firewire, etc). Because the Thunderbolt adapter is compatible with any GoFlex portable drive, you essentially have a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA cable.

For example, here's an image of a GoFlex USB3 adapter connected to a non-GoFlex drive.

I just wanted to point that out because it's not really known to people not using GoFlex products.

Sounds promising. So this could easily mean SSD + TB GoFlex and ready to go? Full speed?
 
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BornAgainMac

macrumors 604
Feb 4, 2004
6,720
4,006
Florida Resident
I like Seagate

Agree the price is high but GoFlex is smart. I bought the Firewire 800 adapter and I have over a half a dozen of their drives. I only need to buy 1 adapter. Other products use a built-in Firewire 800 interface bring the costs up and it adds up with many drives.

Currently using my Thunderbolt to a non Thunderbolt monitor so it isn't possible to use the adapter even if it was free. :eek:
 
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pepitko

macrumors member
Dec 24, 2007
79
0
This looks interesting, as I have yet to use the thunderbolt port on my MBP. It's a bit sad that TB is only starting to become relevant a year after it has been selling on macs. I wish Apple would just bit the bullet and upgrade to USB3, which could also lead to speeded up syncing times with iDevices.
 
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