TB - is it the future?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Varmann, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. Varmann macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Ok, first off, I think it is very positive that Apple put in the effort to develop the new MacPro. However, there is a "but" - Thunderbolt.

    More than 2 years after the introduction the Thunderbolt interface has not yet really get a lot of attention. After the first fuzz it more or less seems like most hardware developers have decided it is yet another niche interface, this time even less appealing to implement than the previous Firewire.

    TB has a lot of drawbacks that slow down adaption among hardware manufactures and users
    - Licence fees (more expensive)
    - Certification (much more complicated to hardware developers)
    - No add-in cards (hard for early adapters o use it, like old-MacPro users)
    - Expensive cables
    - Arriving late with a lot of competing interfaces (usb3, sata/esata, firewire, SAS, 10Gbit ethernet, PCle, displayport, hdmi, infiniband etc)
    - Tries to be Jack-of-all-trades but do not really excel in any area, and misses some of the important ones (replace low-end usb devices and highend ultra-performers)

    We have still seen very little development in obvious areas like
    - Empty JBOD storage boxes ( I guess many want to pick their own disks, not get them preinstalled)
    - External boxes for highend Display cards, especially for laptops.
    - PCs and PC motherboards seem to have very slow adaption of TB

    Not to be pessimistic, but it seem like Thunderbolt will face an even harder uphill battle than firewire ( which was aided by a lot of external devices using the interface like videocameras.)
    The new Macpro will most probably not change much here. It is a small niche product in a niche market.
  2. MattInOz macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    How long did any of those interfaces really take to take off?

    Take USB 1.0 formalised in Nov 95 but when the first iMac was released in August 98 support for the interface was fairly weak but certainly starting to pick up.

    Pretty sure it's not meant to replace low end USB uses which would likely either stay base speed USB or maybe go wireless.

    It would compete with USB3.0 applications that use the speed.

    Even the USB3.0 standard was ratified late 2008 then took 2-3 years to even become mainstream on the PC side and Apple was slower still.

    Ethernet took almost a decade to take off.
    Wifi the standard was 96 but the wifi marketing name wasn't till 2000 when it really started to take off on both windows and mac sides of fence.

    Has potential in uses with money to spend to get results, yet to early to tell.
    So is it the future?
    I'd have to say a good solid maybe.
  3. Varmann thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Of course, adaption takes time...
    But in this case TB looks much more like an awkward relative to Firewire than it seems similar to USB3.

    The step from USB 1 to USB 2 was a significant one, and certainly sparked a whole lot of interest. Comparable the Firewire 400 to 800 transition was more of a yawn, and unfortunately TB1 to TB2 seem to be a similar, rather small upgrade.

    With a mass market well into a transition towards cheap mobile devices like tablets and phones, the need for a yet another expensive interface with significant restrictions for implementation is probably limited.

    I guess it is no coincidence that Apple computers with TB also are well covered with USB 3 ports.
  4. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    TB's biggest problem is that it isn't an answer to a question that has been asked.

    Nobody ever asked for a port that could connect a keyboard, a disk drive, and a display all at once.

    Even on a small computer there is space for 2 or 3 different ports.

    With display sizes heading into the stratosphere, the ability to transmit high speed data for them should be left alone on it's own spec.

    TB had to get band-aided to handle 4K, what happens when next size comes out?

    Apple is trying to artificially create demand for TB by FORCING it down everyone's throat. I'll bet they toyed around with leaving USB3 off new Pro and just having 10 TB ports.

    Sadly, most needs are met just fine with USB3 for pennies compared to TB cost, so who is going to willfully pay extra money for something with so few real uses?

    There are a couple machines here with TB, haven't bought a single solitary accessory for either one yet. I connect to them via USB or I use the TB port as a MDP port. Done.

    "ThunderBolt, the answer to a question nobody asked!" should be their marketing slogan.
  5. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    Thanks for the thread, i forgot I had those extra connection options on my ACD, i can free some ports on my mac mini!
  6. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    When we did "Pirates of Silicon Valley" I was the point man on talking Xerox into loaning us an Alto so that our scene with it would be accurate.

    I spent several weeks sending script pages and begging a rep at the Palo Alto PARC center.

    They finally agreed and I got my assistant a van and a hotel room and sent him north.

    He came back with an Alto wrapped in shrink wrap. I excitedley opened it up but was CRUSHED to discover they sent us a dead one.

    I spent time opening the cabinet and pulling the boards to see if the fault was obvious.

    And I found a board labeled "Ethernet", from early '70s.

    Amazing how much they got right.
  7. TwoBytes macrumors 68030


    Jun 2, 2008
    There may be a future in TB for the way Apple are downsizing their internal hard drives in their machines and people need storage devices that are fast and responsive enough for work (video for example)
  8. MattInOz macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    74 for Ethernet apparently.

    Amazing how much PARC got right but spend half an hour with even a new Xerox photocopy and you'd wonder how their parent company could still be so blind.
  9. throAU, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    If you need something like thunderbolt, there is no subsitute.

    If you don't actually need it, then yeah it's going to sit unused.

    Thunderbolt opens up the possibility of a new category of external peripherals that USB is just not good for. In particular, peripherals that are highly latency sensitive and peripherals that need a lot of bandwidth whilst maintaining minimal CPU overhead.

    Most consumers don't need any of that as everything they commonly use is on-board and a single external drive doesn't push too much beyond what USB2 or USB3 can offer.

    But if you're a user with needs like 10 gig ethernet, fiber channel or other high-bandwidth (and latency sensitive) devices then you have a choice: paying for a bunch of different ports that you may or may not use (eg., apple ship 10 gig-e on the new pro: many won't/can't use it - but a thunderbolt port is multi-purpose), and may be superseded as your ownership continues - or have a bunch of general purpose ports (thunderbolt) which can then be utilised to run a number of different connectivity options or devices due to them simply being PCIe on a cable.

    USB3 and Thunderbolt are not competitors. They are designed for entirely different purposes. And yes, using thunderbolt for something you could easily use USB for is just expensive and retarded. But USB3 can't do everything, and often the things it CAN do, thunderbolt can do more efficiently and faster.

    I think the big reason that Thunderbolt isn't more commonly used is specifically because it hasn't been on the Mac Pro yet. The audience who need this connectivity are mostly not laptop users, especially not machines like the MBA. MBPs maybe, but even so... if you need all the expandability you're more likely to be a heavy workstation user. There's little point in having a 10 gigabit or 20 gigabit connectivity option for example when your internal storage is nowhere near that fast and you have a small amount of RAM. Where is the data going to or coming from?

    However, I do see future implementations of thunderbolt taking off (don't think it is going anywhere, they will simply add more PCIe lanes to it) as bandwidth improves further and more people move to portable devices when they realise that they CAN work on a laptop, and simply plug into 10 gig networking and fiber channel storage and other high bandiwdth devices when they get to the office/home.

    As far as external connectivity goes it is the most "pure" or un-obstructed bus available between your CPU and your external device. It's mostly PCIe - there's not a lot of additional translation overhead so drivers are simple, latency is and will remain good, etc.

    So unless PCIe dies, thunderbolt will stick around.

    Yes, cables are expensive, because the transceivers are in the cable. However, this means your regular thunderbolt port will also connect via fiber with the appropriate cable.

    If you compare TB to any other interface with similar performance and versatility (e.g., 10 GbE SFP - no, USB3 is not "similar performance" unless all you look at is raw bandwidth, forgetting latency, protocol overhead, etc) it is much cheaper. A 10 gig twinax cable for my switch for example is several hundred dollars.
  10. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    For pro machines, yes, Thunderbolt is pretty much pointless at this point.
    But surely there is a question that Thunderbolt answers.

    "Oh boy, this Macbook Air is all I need... if only I could have a better GPU so that I could game on it and don't have to buy a separate computer for that.."

    Thunderbolt chassis are disgustingly expensive right now but if prices comes down, Thunderbolt will have tons of uses. I guess the big question is "if" the prices comes down before Thunderbolt dies due to lack of implementation of manufacturers.
  11. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    That's not the question Thunderbolt is answering.

    The questions Thunderbolt answers are "How do I plug my RAID controller, FibreChannel card, pro video/audio capture box into my laptop?/small-form-factor computer", "How do I move my expensive specialist hardware between machines without having to pull PCIe cards?" or, for manufacturers, "Why are we building computers in huge metal boxes just to accommodate 4 PCIe slots, when only 10%* of users ever actually plug anything in to them?"

    * OK, I've no idea whether it is 10% - but the 'tower PC' evolved back in the day when almost everybody would at least add a sound card, anybody on a network would need an Ethernet card, scanners came with SCSI cards. Nowadays, everything that 90% of users need is in the CPU chipset including, increasingly, good-enough graphics for anything other than serious gaming or pro imaging.

    As for the "keyboard+display+disk drive" bit - look at all the docking stations on offer for MacBooks and other laptops (I'm not talking about Thunderbolt docks). Docking connectors were pretty common on laptops at one stage.

    One of the disappointments is the slow emergence (and sometimes half-baked designs) of Thunderbolt docks. Otherwise, these would be what "the rest of us" used Thunderbolt for.
  12. Varmann thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2010
    With todays plethora of different connection interfaces it is only small niches were thunderbolt do not have any (often superior) competition.

    Well, I am curious, and really want to see these coming. But to me it seems like TB falls in the middle, too expensive and complicated for the lowend and not reaching up to the highend territory of externals connected to PCie cards, SAS or Infiniband.

    Unfortunately not, so I guess several MacPro users will have to use precious TB ports for a 10Gbit connection.

    The next USB3 upgrade (seem to be scheduled to next year) will increase the theoretical bandwidth to 10Gbit. Leaving even less space on the market for TB. At the highend side TB has to move fast forward to be able to be a viable solution for 8k editing.

    I have no figures, but I would guess that today more professionals uses laptops than heavy work stations (at my work it certainly is the case, all heavy lifting and storage is centralized). A logical use of TB is to get rid of some of the last workstations. Just connect external GPUs, a couple of displays and very fast storage to your laptop and you, at least theoretically, would have good rendering performance and fast storage while also having a flexible and very mobile system.

    The new MacPro is such a small niche that it will most likely not affect the TB adaption at all. In this forum it has been shown lot of examples of faster solutions that can be used on earlier Macpros.

    TB as "the port to rule them all" is a hard road ahead.
  13. Tesselator, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    TB, TB2, TB3 coming soon, I dunno if it's the "best" or not but it's the best we have.

    It actually is the answer to several questions that were being asked. Anyone can search these forums prior to the release of TB toting Apple goods and find these questions in abundance. The main questions it answers are:
    • How do I connect more PCIe cards than the number of slots I have?
    • How can I hook up 6, 9 or more monitors without spending too much on special GPU cards?
    • How can I get the full speed from a 4 or more drive external RAID enclosure without spending a fortune on fast interconnects?

    And the answers we were given to those questions:
    • Apple said we can connect up to six devices per TB2 port and there are six ports. 6x6=36. So now the answer is that with TB2 you can connect up 36 cards - so many in fact we don't even need the internal slots any longer. I guess we will be able to connect up to 18 GPUs as GPGPU compute devices as well as some of things mentioned below without any slowdown of any of them. Awesome. :)
    • I dunno exactly how many monitors the six TB2 port can run but it's at least twelve and 12 seems like a satisfactory answer to the question to me. But I guess we will be able to run more than that. I wouldn't be surprised if we could run twenty-four (24) 1080p 23" monitors without a hitch. And we don't need to spend any extra money beyond the monitors and cables themselves. Nice answer if you ask me. :)
    • Prior to TB2 most of us were hooking up our external RAID boxes through either USB3, gigabit Ethernet, through eSATA, and a few rich kids or businesses through very expensive SAS setups which start right around the $1,500 mark (±) for the card and case - before drives are even considered. USB3, SATA and Ethernet are too slow to provide enough bandwidth for more than 3 fast HDDs let alone some number of SSDs and SAS is cost prohibitive for the majority of us. So the answer offered was TB2. It offers 20GB/s and the enclosures for 4 to 6 drives are beginning life at around $750. I guess in a years time those will be $300 or so just like NAS, USB, and SATA enclosures have done. So that seems like a pretty good answer to an existing question to me. Twenty gigabytes per second over each of six cables and we don't need to buy anything extra - just the case and cable. If we RAID those together that's potentially 120 gigabytes per second (but probably closer to 100GB/s realistically)! Wow! Just WOW! And Apple actually gave us two answers to this question - in the form of 4 dedicated USB3 ports. :)

    So those are questions we've been asking and TB2 was the answer we've been given by Apple. Is it the best there is? I dunno, I guess it is, I can't think of anything better, can you? Is it the future? Well Apple has made it so, yes, so in reality if you intend to use Apple hardware it is - no question about it. Is it the future interconnect of SOHO computing in general? It seems like it could be, yes. Intel seems to think it is. They released TB2 right after version one as very clear message that they were serious about it - and I guess the 40GB/s per port TB3 is in the works already. The only problem I see with the tech is as been said already many times: the enclosures are initially too expensive. But in the same breath so were USB and SATA enclosures and now those start at around $150 for a 4-bay box, etc.. <shrug>

    It seems entirely obvious to me that the only people saying otherwise besides those excusing themselves from buying the new machine, are those who stand to make a profit and/or stay in business by convincing us that none of the above is true and that you need to buy goods and services (even though they are illegal) from them in order to have your questions answered. And there might even be some truth to that - for awhile. But the arguments they use to make and promote their case are so full of logic holes it's unreal. In the past Apple users in forums have been fairly astute at detecting shills or self-promoters when the BS got even a little thick. I think it's interesting to see a set of conditions arise where it's the thickest I've ever seen it and yet many users here are unable to see through it. I guess it's OK, I don't think anyone will get physically hurt or anything - it's just interesting as it's my first time seeing this condition unfold. I do suggest that for those who can think for themselves to button up as it's likely to get pretty thick and pretty deep in this thread and even is already - I got mine on for sure.

  14. Varmann thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2010
    I am not against TB, definitively the opposite!

    Just worried it is too little, too late and too expensive to really hit off.
    My guess is that very much of the market (except Apple) will wait and see, and we will get yet another chicken and egg situation.

    It is a port that seems to be aimed at a shrinking segment of workstations and highend laptops. Squeezed between USB3, SAS and fast wireless solutions. Of course, niche manufactories will adapt it, but is it enough?
  15. Tesselator, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    All good questions. :) I don't have any of those answers tho. And no one can speculate on those without being somewhere in outer-space - relative to down-to-Earth accurate. I'm not even sure if the market segment is actually shrinking or whether users are just finding or building devices of similar capabilities which classify differently.

    It'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds. I have a hunch that since both Intel and Apple are so far throwing their weigh behind it something will come of it - more than an unhatched egg I mean. It seems like it's already off to a pretty good start. <shrug>

    I'm not for or against Thunderbolt tech myself. It just is what it is. It seems good. <shrug>
  16. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2013
    I think your premise is completely backwards - TB has been a complete success. I think the idea that it's been a failure is that you're expecting to see something like USB where there's thousands of devices with a USB port or plug on them, but this will never happen and doesn't need to. They serve separate classes of devices.

    For example, Thunderbolt actually has quite a lot of devices available


    There are many others, and I can't find the list of PCI cards supported in the external chassis but I remember it was quite long.

    And since TB is meant as a high speed bus the number of devices will always be less than USB, because the class of devices will always be things like docking stations, hubs, etc.

    However it doesn't matter as TB does support thousands of devices. We have three docking stations (Apple display, Belkin and Matrox) with another on the way for soon to be four total. How many devices are supported by those? Thousands on thousands. You can plug them all into your computer at high speed, where's the issue?

    The next obvious device is mass storage. There are tens of options here.

    Next is PCIe external cages. There are a good half dozen or so of these options.

    The only issue is that Apple's drivers still have problems with hot plug, sleep and such with the external docks.
  17. GroundLoop macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2003
    I don't particularly have anything against TB as a useful technology. My concerns are with Apple's use of this technology as a replacement of higher bandwidth interfaces (PCIe). The rapid growth of SSD technology and speeds are going to soon show (and on the enterprise side already show) how much of a bottleneck TB2 will become.

  18. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    Apologies first for the long entry.

    It will definitely need support from the PCI-E Card manufacturers to develop drivers to support them being in Thunderbolt Enclosures.


    Seems to show growing support

    There is some Avid , UAD, Black Magic cards so video editing and audio companies seem to be providing this support. Interestingly here


    They also are showing a bracket for Red Rocket were can fit the BNC connectors, so I would suspect that Red Rocket Card support will be appearing on the list soon.


    For the Netstor 333 chassis then also support for Red Rocket cards.

    Also support for other cards as well..

    As such RAID Cards, Network Card, Pro Audio Card, Video Capture/Processing Cards all seem to be getting supported by Thunderbolt.

    If you need ( by Apples Definition ) legacy interface such as FW then can be added in via Expansion card in chassis.

    They seem to think there will be at least some traction in providing support for Thunderbolt.

    Sure as Graphics display size increases/Storage Speeds increase will need additional increases in speed/bandwidth etc, so we will see Thunderbolt 2, 3 and 4 etc, just the same as seen HDMI go from 1.0 to 1.4, Display Port is now I believe at 1.2 etc adding capability to the interfaces as needed more performance capability such as the move from SD to HD and then 4K.

    USB has gone to version 3 well adding extra performance as needed over time as well.

    SAS has also increased in speed as well, with LSI launching some 12G SAS Cards.

    The only thing really missing is GPU cards, however I don't see that catching on personally, rather they will remain inside the main enclosure.

    In terms of JBOD boxes then Pegasus have the J4, however if you just want to attach 1 or two external disks, then USB3 will currently suffice for that.

    If you want RAID without the RAID card then
    Netstor and Areca are making Thunderbolt to SAS Enclosures you just add your own disks into, also there are the Drobo's if not necessarily need the same disk io.

    The only area's I have personally seen PC Motherboards with Thunderbolt getting much interest is in the Hackintosh market since they became available on the mini, iMac, Laptops etc from Apple.

    However other then people building Hackintosh and wanting then the PC Motherboard market isn't in need/driven to Thunderbolt.

    You can buy big Motherboards with plenty of slots in HPTX format offering plenty of PCI-E Express Expansion for Pro-Audio, Video Editing RAID etc.
    Mount into a Lian-Li D8000 http://www.lian-li.com/en/dt_portfolio/pc-d8000/ with 11 PCI Slot, for those extra connectors on your cards, support for 20 3.5" HDD's and if you want that sort of expandibility you can get it without going External. Of course that is one heck of a case in size, and not exactly portable, but with a case like that mated with a HPTX motherboard then why would you need Thunderbolt. However people should be able to build what they need into that case.

    For Dell/HP etc then the requirement for Thunderbolt again not so pressing.

    Apples requirement is more that they are driving people away from opening the case and replace parts / upgrade themselves. As such Thunderbolt works for them, and there does appear to be a number of people ( NOT EVERYONE! ) that are finding that they can get there work that they used a Mac Pro 1,1 for with the newest Mini and iMac. This way they can get the expansion cards they need ( if they have driver support ) without having to spend on the Mac Pro, just to get there expansion cards going. For people with the lower speed Quads then they too may find in 5-6 years time that the Mac Mini 2019 provides enough performance for them and don't need the Mac Pro at that point.

    Thankfully it appears that a number of the vendors of cards and expansion are investing in there being a worthwhile market for Thunderbolt as well.

    With the new Mac Pro then taking that to the Mac Pro as well. Is moving towards the it is broke, get the next one in and sort it out later approach that some larger organisations have been doing since the Mid 90's at least. Where I did my year out in 95/96, you had a problem with the Desktop, then it was swapped out whole with a fresh image and your data was all on the network. You was back up and running real quick and they could sort out the machine at leisure. Of course it is isn't great for smaller companies that can't do that, such as a lot of the people on these forums that are quite vocal about it.

    As such overall I would say it has A future, whether it will be THE future I wouldn't have thought so, however for things like consumer camera's phones, keyboard/mouse Graphics Tablets, single SDD/HDD enclosures etc then USB will continue to domininate as simply don't need the extra performance that Thunderbolt can offer.
  19. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
  20. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    dunno if it's THE future but it is for my foreseeable future.

    i currently use fw800 and dvi.. thunderbolt replaces and improves upon both of those all in one cable? sure, why not..
  21. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Two cables but ya, one port. Apple says up to six devices per port can be daisy-chained.
  22. barmann, Jul 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013

    barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    Different times, different requirements .

    My first Mac, a G3, had USB 1.0, FW 400, but came with some cheap BTO SCSI card for my scanner .
    Pro photography was analogue in '99, storage in boxes .

    Other professions have different needs and had them at different times, but in general the need for fast external connection - for a large amount of pro users - is fairly recent .

    USB 2.0 was established within a year or so, FW800 too, adapted peripherals showed up within months . There was little to no additional cost involved, apart from upgrading an enclosure if desired .
    Backward compatibilty was and still is a non issue .
    No rush, the old stuff still worked, prices for the new stuff came down before you were done reading the reviews .
    Same with USB 3.0 , unless you have a Mac and need to rely on an Apple intern to get the drivers ready for your ancient pre-2013 Intel MP . See below .

    TB is very different , as it has no compatible predecessor .
    Backward compatibilty to other ports is unproven, available peripherals are priced well above acceptable for a medium performance technology .

    TB couples file transfer with video output . Why ?
    Who ever asked for a hybrid solution ?
    Then again, why not ?
    As long as the display doesn't need to be at the end of a TB chain . ;)

    Anyways; I'm very surprised Apple has introduced TB a few years ago, made hardly any effort to support the technology by releasing even just a few essential and affordable peripherals - and now Apple comes up with a MacPro workstation, which is largely based on that same TB tech they treated like a mere space saver for their lesser products in the past.

    But there's hope, I think ; a couple of good hubs/docking stations by the time the MacCan is sold, affordable and fully supporting FW and such, that might go a long way to ease the pain .

    Unless the interns in the basement, who did not qualify for the iPhad department, and hence are in charge of the MP development, have already spent the budget on herbs . ;)
  23. subsonix macrumors 68040

    Feb 2, 2008
    It uses a Displayport socket, it's backwards compatible with Displayport.

    First of all, it couples PCIe with Displayport. Why, because Displayport if very common and particular on smaller portable computers which is where most are heading, the dual function port means that it will continue to work as a Displayport, should you decide to not use it for anything else.
  24. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    And also difference circumstances. Second and third generation interfaces that are backwards compatible can be sold and used not in the new mode. Some USB 2.0 and FW800 perhiperals were used on USB 1.0 and FW400 hosts. Eventually the owners traded up on the host side also but the perhperials had some upside before then.

    Thunderbolt is backwards compatible with DisplayPort v1.1 but it is also first generational. The new Mac Pro will be the first arrival of a TB v2 device ( host or peripheral). Frankly how well TB v2 hosts and devices is an largely unknown because even Intel projects not going to have volume shipping of v2 controllers until 2014.

    Thunderbolt has to track both DsplayPort (which is still moving forward with v1.2 ) and also built interia for its own native format. The uptake is going to be slower. But it isn't a "USB or FW n+1" progression.

    Thunderbolt is not backward compatible with other physical ports at all. That isn't "unproven"; it just is not. Doubt, FUD, about the backward compatibility with DisplayPort has a good track record. It is the same physical port (at mini DisplayPort). All that is primarily needed is a pass-through mode. It isn't so much "backwards compatible" mode as much as alternative electrical signaling for same wires mode. A thunderbolt device isn't going to work without another thunderbolt controller on the other end.

    1. It isn't file transfer. It is PCIe data. That isn't files. The myopia that Thunderbolt is primarily targeted as a Direct Attached Storage solution is rampant because grossly flawed.

    2. Why transport GPU output? Err, one good reason is that not going to provide same bandwidth externally has have interally for GPU. It is a x4 link out. It is not primarily targeted at x16 or x8 cards.

    3. Why transfer data for moderate/legacy PCI-e based I/O controllers and video on same cable.

    a. Look at this


    b. Look at multiheaded 3 headed hydra of Apple Cinema Display

    [ Image #2 here
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC007LL/A/apple-led-cinema-display-27-flat-panel ]

    c. The wider variety I/O solution of the TB Display/Docking Station


    A display not just with a USB hub. A display with Ethernet , FW , and USB. Who asked for that? Who asks for docking stations in the mainstream world. Same kinds of folks. Who asks for USB hubs and keyboard I/O switching hubs in their monitors. Similar kinds of people.

    The current largest buyer of Thunderbolt controllers. The vast majority of endusers don't buy raw low level I/O controller components.

    It doesn't need to be there.

    Apple built the TB devices that made the most sense. Either highly aligned with the benefits ( Display-docking station ) or necessity driven ( somewhat prematurely ejected Ethernet and Firewire ports from laptops )

    The rest possible peripherals..... Apple never was in the PCI-e card business all that much. So they really had few if any products to put into a TB enclosure and sell.

    It is not so much hardware but software where Apple has been slacking. A couple of vendors products sat while bugs their products exposed in core OS X infrastructure finally got worked out by Apple.

    "... For instance, a Belkin representative told Ars that there was a bug in OS X that prevented a USB keyboard connected to a Thunderbolt bridge from waking a Mac from sleep. That bug has since been addressed in 10.8.2, however. Intel is also continually improving Thunderbolt drivers for Windows, according to a representative we spoke to at CES. .... "

    Defacto for OS X devices need to pass compliance testing with both Intel and Apple to be OS X Thunderbolt products. That isn't a fast track process. But yes, it is somewhat surprising that Apple let's this kind of stuff languish for longer periods of time than necessary.

    Howver, as with EFI ( over BIOS), I don't think Apple particularly cares alot about how long it takes the mainstream PC market to 'catch on'. They don't really control it so it isn't worth loosing tons of sleep over how slow and risk adverse it is sometimes.

    Why long term, large advantage does the Mac Pro have by standing on an island separated from the rest of the Mac line up? Is that going to help the Mac Pro match the sales growth of the rest of the Mac line up?

    Thunderbolt is not a space saver for iMac and Mini. TB actually makes them more competitive with other classic desktops. The Thunderbolt versions didn't get particularly smaller with its arrival. Same is true for most laptops. ( there was marginal trimming of Ethernet socket from rMBP but that is far from space saver trend since MBA already went there years beforehand. )

    The only docking station that Apple is likely going to deliver is a Thunderbolt "display". Will there be a more affordable variant ( smaller screen) prehaps, if they are smart. But other than that, it isn't dope smoking Apple employees that are at issue.
  25. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    oh.. right.. still two cables.
    what i was saying is that the cables are identical as opposed to one type going to displays and another type going to drives etc..

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