Thunderbolt - how to use, and what it's for

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by articcine, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. articcine macrumors regular

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    #1
    Am I the only one who don't understand how to use it, or what it's for?
    Can anyone try to explain, reading apple.com isn't helping me much.
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
    You plug in the cable and use the connected device how you'd normally use it. It's no different from any other connector in that regard.
     
  3. Fubar1977 macrumors 6502a

    Fubar1977

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    #3
    Basically what Miles said.
    It also continues to function as a mini-displayport in the same way as the old port did.

    As of right now, there is very little else to plug into it, wait till next year and there should be a plethora of compatible devices.
     
  4. Grouchy Bob macrumors regular

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    #4
    Just ignore it for now. It does nothing.

    Intel and Apple thanks you for the funding.
     
  5. tuna macrumors 6502

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    #5
    USB2 has a theoretical transfer of 480Mb/s

    Firewire 800 has a theoretical transfer of 800Mb/s

    Lightpeak/"Thunderbolt" has a theoretical transfer of 10,000Mb/s

    In other words, think of it as Firewire, but 12.5 times faster.

    One of the early demos that Intel shows of the technology showed connected to two 1080p monitors, a hard drive, and an ethernet adapter, and it was able to simultaneously play the two uncompressed 1080p video streams stored on the hard drive while accessing the internet.

    As for what it will be used for, since Displayport was already easily used to carry video, it looks like the earliest uses will be for small RAID arrays. Hopefully this means that the price of quality RAID will come down to consumer levels. I also imagine that especially for laptops (eg the Macbook pro), Thunderbolt will be powering a lot of "laptop docks" / "breakout boxes". You'll be able to plug your MBP into the breakout box by just the miniDP cable, and then the breakout box will have video, audio, ethernet, USB, and Firewire inputs and outputs.
     
  6. mgartner0622 macrumors 65816

    mgartner0622

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    #6
    Basically anything that you an use USB/Firewire and the Displayport for...
    Although right now there is not much you can use it for, the market is emerging. Wait a few months, and see the plethora of accessories that will be coming.
     
  7. ozred macrumors 6502

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    Feb 19, 2011
    #7
    It's a useless technology included because Apple likes to brag.

    Give it 12 to 24 months and it may be relevant and useful.

    Right now it's all hype.
     
  8. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    98% of the people on this forum upgraded so they could put it in their signature and then tell their friends about how cool it is. You could try that out.

    Then if you want to be in the top 75% of the 98% throw an SSD in there and add another line to the sig!!!!
     
  9. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 9, 2011
    #9
    LOL pretty much :)
     
  10. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #10
    :rolleyes:

    In reality, Apple popularized GUI, USB, WiFi, and a number of technologies.
     
  11. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #11
    This is currently the biggest use for it. Any existing Mini DisplayPort adapter should work.

    I can't see TB offering anything special for an average Joe, at least yet. Only a fraction of people even know what RAID means, so most people will keep buying those cheap USB external HDs because those are absolutely fine for their usage (backups, storing pics, video music etc). TB sounds cool and it offers lots of features but majority of them are something that average users will never use.
     
  12. tuna macrumors 6502

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    Apr 11, 2010
    #12
    You guys are being so negative. Its not a downside that Apple included it and is an early adopter. Intel is backing it so it will catch on soon.

    Also, I'm sure that Apple will be supporting it with their own products soon enough. The next generation Apple Cinema Display, for example, will definitely not have to plug in by USB. It will be able to plug in by Thunderbolt alone to power video, webcam, microphones, speakers, USB ports, and possibly even more functionality and IO. There is so much bus speed on Thunderbolt, why not just include a gigabit ethernet port on the monitor? Why not put Firewire 800 back on it? Why not have analog and digital audio inputs and outputs?
     
  13. namtaB macrumors regular

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    Feb 22, 2011
    #13
    x2. It'll have use down the line but by that time there will be upgraded MBP available.
     
  14. kolax macrumors G3

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    Mar 20, 2007
    #14
    Think of it as the same as USB.

    Only, this is far faster, and allows you to connect lots of devices at high speed from just one port. Displays, etc all go via one port. Instead of having USB, DisplayPort and FireWire, you'll only need one port. For any device. We're in a transition stage.

    The best way is to imagine it in practise - you have a MacBook Pro, and on your desk you have a monitor, 2 external hard drives, and some speakers. Right now, when you want to hook your MacBook Pro up to all this, you'll need to plug in the display, external hard drives (using both USB ports to avoid speed discrepancies) and your speakers.

    With Thunderbolt, when you want to plug it all in, you just have one cable, because everything else is hooked up in a daisy chain.
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #15
    10Gb/s isn't that much. 2560x1440 monitor @60Hz with 24 bit color requires 7.87Gb/s of bandwidth alone. MiniDP was able to provide 10.8Gb/s and the new DP 1.2 can provide 21.6Gb/s.

    I would have gone with mDP 1.2 + USB 3.0 instead. USB 3.0 is already a standard, there are plenty of HDs and other devices with it. It's also more than sufficient for most users as mechanical HDs top out at ~150MB/s anyway. Next gen will likely have TB + USB 3.0 though so not bad. TB is definitely better than just mDP.
     
  16. Stetrain macrumors 68040

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    Feb 6, 2009
    #16
    The nice thing about Thunderbolt is that since it's just PCI-express you can use it to carry almost any type of existing port. Expect cinema displays in the near future that act more like docking stations, with USB, Ethernet, FireWire, and Audio connections on the back. When you get home with your MBP you plug in the power and thunderbolt cables and it's completely docked into your home system.

    You can daisy chain thunderbolt too, so hooked to the back of this dock/monitor you could have a high speed storage drive.
     
  17. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #17
    Its the "new" USB 3!

    Can use it as a MiniDisplayPort connection now.

    Looks like the "Docking Station" connector for laptops (to come).

    High speed connection for hard drives.
    I think USB 3 is dead before it realy gets out if the gate.
    USB 2 (480) to SATA hard drive -> USB is limiting factor.
    FW 800 to SATA hard drive -> FW800 is now a limiting factor.
    USB 3 to SATA 3G hard drive -> look close to balanced.
    USB 3 to SATA 6G hard drive -> USB 3 the limiting factor.
    TB to SATA 6G hard drive -> hard drives the limiting factor.
    Why bother with USB 3?
     
  18. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #18
    Unless you have SSD or many HDs in RAID, the HD will be the limiting factor as current mechanical HDs top out at ~150MB/s.
     
  19. Stetrain macrumors 68040

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    #19
    Yes, but the idea isn't that you plug one drive into one port. Thunderbolt is designed to handle multiple devices.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ox_inwLSl0
     
  20. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #20
    Most people don't need more than one external HD. TB has all these nice features but an average user will never use them. External monitor and HD is something that they can still use but that is pretty much it. Most of us don't need 8-bay RAID 0 setups.
     
  21. tuna macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Most of us could use a 3 or 4 bay RAID 5 setup. We're trying to move to flash storage based computers as we're also collecting more terabytes of higher bitrate media than every before. This is something that thunderbolt will hopefully help to deliver to the consumer. Cheap, easy to use, RAID 5 box / home servers.

    Also, as I and others have said, much better "breakout box" functionality where you will be able to connect a box to your MBP via thunderbolt and the box will have gigabit ethernet, video outputs, USB2 and 3, Firewire, audio, etc. Why not, the thunderbird bus can easily carry all of those protocols.

    As far as the split between the display signal and thunderbolt works... how does that work? Is it like you can still use the full miniDP bandwidth available (said to run a 2560x1600 monitor) and still have the full 10Gb/s symmetrical? Or does running Displayport video consumer thunderbird bandwidth, and to what degree?

    I know that the max theoretical transfer for Displayport is actually 17.3Gb/s, but I don't know if it is less for miniDisplayPort, and I don't know how that is effected by having to transfer data both ways.
     
  22. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #22
    Maybe geeks but think this from a regular user's level. Most people don't need TBs of storage, your vacation photos don't take that much space. A 2TB external HD is sufficient for those and that can be bought for not much over 100$. A 4-bay RAID 5 setup will cost you hundreds of dollars and a basic user is not able to justify the cost when he has no idea what he is paying for.

    And to add the icing, USB 3.0 could provide pretty much the same thing as TB when it comes to external storage.

    10Gb/s is the maximum bandwidth, no matter is it DisplayPort or PCIe. If you have a monitor with 2560x1600 @60Hz with 24-bit color, that will take 8.75Gb/s of the bandwidth, leaving 1.25Gb/s for everything else. I don't know does the bidirectional (10Gb/s for both ways, up and down) thingy affect though.

    Mini DisplayPort is just different connector, it has the same specs.
     
  23. tuna macrumors 6502

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    #23
    HD video burns up the terabytes pretty fast, and a single external drive doesn't give you automatic redundancy.
     
  24. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #24
    Now we get back to the geek level. There aren't many legal sources where you can get good quality HD content that will eat TBs pretty fast. iTunes stuff isn't very high quality and thus won't take that much space. I would consider ripping Blu-Rays as geek level stuff as well. I would say most people rather rent the movie instead of buying as you will only watch it once anyway. That won't take any disk space.

    Either way, most of us do not need an expensive RAID solution. eSATA has existed for years but these external RAID setups still cannot be found from everyone's home.
     
  25. Stetrain macrumors 68040

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    #25
    http://www.tidbits.com/article/11993

    Apparently they are independent. The DisplayPort bus supports 10Gb/s both ways, and the PCI-E bus supports an addition 10Gb/s both ways. Your first monitor won't take any bandwidth from the PCI-E bus.

    I think it would be theoretically possible to daisy chain two 27" monitors then, as long as one was smart enough to use the PCI-E bus. Not sure if it would have access to the video card by that method, so it might have to actually have its own display adapter built in.
     

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