Thunderbolt: Must try harder

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Chippy99, May 12, 2012.

  1. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I so hope the new 2012 Macs have USB3. Please!

    After much consideration and deliberation, today I bought a Seagate Goflex Thunderbolt adapter and a separate 500GB Goflex drive that came with its own USB3 adapter.

    Seeing the two adapters together tells you immediately why Thunderbolt take up so far is so poor and why the devices are so expensive.

    A picture paints a thousand words, so here's the two adapters:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The USB3 adapter is perhaps 1/10th of the volume - a small neat device that clips onto the end of the disk. The Thunderbolt adapter is massive by comparison. The bottom piece is double the thickness and then there's the big slab that goes along the whole length of the disk and is thicker than the disk itself.

    But pictures only tell part of the story. The performance of the two adapters (USB3 to my PC and Thunderbolt to my Mac) is identical. And probably would still be identical if the drive was 5 times faster. Between 80 to 100 MB/s reads and writes with both interfaces.

    However, the USB3 adapter runs cold, and silent. The Thunderbolt adapter runs so hot you can hardly hold it, and it has a noisy fan in it, so it makes a right racket!!! An interface adapter with a fan - I have never heard of such a thing.

    And the final bit of madness - the USB3 adapter is "free" with the £70 disk drive. The Thunderbolt adapter cost me £100 - more than the disk and USB3 adapter put together. Utter madness.

    I think Thunderbolt has some great promise for connecting remote devices like PCI-Express cards and even monitors (what was wrong with Displayport though? Or Dual-Link DVI for that matter).

    But as it stands, it is borderline complete rubbish. The peripherals are ridiculously expensive - not that many are available anyway. And with engineering like the example above, it has a long way to go.

    I fear Apple has "bet the farm" on Thunderbolt and will be reluctant to include USB3 support in the new Macs. Well in a way they would be right. No-one is going to pay £100 extra for a noisy, bulky, power hungry peripheral are they. Not when the USB3 version is none of those things.

    On the showing so far, I'd give it 1 out of 10.
     
  2. \-V-/ Suspended

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    #2
    USB 3.0 is built into the Ivy Bridge chipsets. They're all going to have it.
     
  3. rpmor macrumors member

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    #3
    Thunderbolt is expensive cause atm its only available for Mac products and its a premium to be had. Also the Seagate is a bad example cause its a dock aimed to be switchable so you can use it with any and all Seagate GOs. if you look at any other thunderbolt drive its not much different in size to a standard USB drive. which probably run just as quiet...i dont know how Seagate designed the dock but im pretty sure you're making a very blanket statement that is unwarranted to say all TB devices have the same problem or are all rubbish.

    Thunderbolt should be coming to Windows now with Ivy Bridge chipsets being able to support if (i recall reading this somewhere); once that happens expect to see prices drop as adoption increases and same can be said about an increase in a wider range of drive options.

    but as stated before USB3 will be in the new Macs theres no reason for it not to be since it will be Ivy based. the motherboards will be USB3 native...for Apple to 'force' it to be USB2 only it will cost them more to do...remember Apple dont make the motherboards. so they would have to pay quite a penny to have their OEM provider (be it ASUS or whoever) to take a USB3 native motherboard and replace them with USB2 ports
     
  4. McGilli macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Well, when USB2 came out - it was the same deal. I remember wanting external docks for my internal hard drives, and the things were huge. Giant metal cases, some had fans in them.

    Same thing with Firewire 400.

    So ya it will take time.

    BUT - as seen in your pictures the problem is that USB3 is already there - no fans, just slim, small adapters ready to go. But again it's based on a technology (USB1) that was released in 1996. So - they've had 16 years to get it to where it is now.
     
  5. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    No, it's not supported even in the latest Ivybridge chipsets, which says a lot I think.

    I am not on some like, anti-thunderbolt crusade. I am just telling it the way it is: As it stands, currently, Thunderbolt has some technical advantages but the pratical reality on the ground today is that it seems an unattractive proposition compared to USB3.

    I am sure these issues (availability, price, bulk, heat) could be sorted out with newer silicon, but today it does not appear to be there. You only have to look inside the Apple Thunderbolt display. It's a monitor for goodness sake. A monitor with a few ports on the back. No big deal. But the electronics inside it, simple to convert Thunderbolt to USB2 or Ethernet are unbelievable. It's like there's a whole PC stuffed in there.

    It's vital we start see more, MUCH cheaper, Thunderbolt peripherals soon, or it's not inconceivable to me that Thunderbolt may even go the way of Betamax.

    Apple must be painfully aware of this, and for this reason I fear they will not introduce USB3 support this year, which would be a great shame.

    ----------

    Who says Apple are going to use Ivybridge chipsets? Ivybridge processors work perfectly on series 6 chipsets, which are cheaper too. And don't support USB3.

    So they may not all have it.
     
  6. rpmor macrumors member

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    #6
    it actually is...while additional components are needed. its capable of doing thunderbolt as long as the motherboard manufacturer wants the board to support it by implementing these additional components. expect high end boards to eventually come with it...

    http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2165700/intel-chipsets-enable-usb-thunderbolt-ahead-ivy-bridge-launch

    just cause its not available on every motherboard doesnt mean its not. it will still be a premium for the PC as well once it rolls out on specific motherboard models...but once that happens prices will drop...

    also you dont seem to be addressing the existence of hard drives and peripherals that are the standard size like any other...mind you they're all desktop models but still 'standard' sized

    http://store.apple.com/au/product/H...e?n=thunderbolt&fnode=MTY1NDA0Nw&s=topSellers

    http://store.apple.com/au/product/H...e?n=thunderbolt&fnode=MTY1NDA0Nw&s=topSellers

    Thunderbolt is here to stay. i cant afford it but i can see it will be like firewire. it will cater to the market that needs it coupled with teh displays being thunderbolt based...there will always be a port on the Mac and thus it wont go anywhere....but again like i said above...it'll come to PCs soon.

    also you're comparing a new I/O interface to one that is only evolutionary in comparison that has been around for 16 years. in the beginning USB 3.0 didnt have the 'practicalities' you mention. they were devilishly expensive..you need to give it time and the 'practicalities' will come. however i feel it already is practical....its just a matter of having the capacity to buy into the tech early...
     
  7. \-V-/ Suspended

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    #7
    Because it would be utterly stupid otherwise.
     
  8. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Sorry, but you are mistaken about that.

    1. They may chose to introduce Ivybridge processors and use series 6 chipsets. This would be *cheaper* than using the newer Cougar Point chipsets and would mean no USB3. It will cost Apple *more* money to add USB3 because the new chipsets are more expensive and offer no material advantage other than USB3.

    2. They don't make the boards, but they do design them and can ask the manufacturers to put what on earth they like on them. It's up to Apple. It's not a case of Apple having to pay the board manufacturer to make some weird and expensive change. The designs are Apple's.

    3. Even with the silicon in place, you need a driver for USB3. Apple could chose to use Panther Point chipsets and just not support USB3 in the driver.

    4. Apple could fit USB2 ports (connectors) on the board. i.e even if they use latest chipsets, just put the old ports on the board and there's no USB3.

    So no, Ivybridge does NOT mean USB3 is inevitable.
     
  9. rpmor macrumors member

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    #9

    they dont design the board...where did you get this idea from? they're based of chipset designs and they cater it to their needs but they dont design from scratch
     
  10. Chippy99, May 12, 2012
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

    Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Not at all. Why would you say such a thing?

    ----------

    Er, life?

    Of course they do. Why on earth do you think otherwise? Apple are the worlds largest computer company - they don't just cobble together other people's stuff. What a crazy thought. Of course they design their own motherboards.

    Are you really suggesting that a Mac Mini is made from off the shelf components? You're mad - with the greatest respect.

    EDIT: I see you edited your post after I quoted it! Cheeky!

    Anyway, clearly you softened your line a bit, and yes, they will use reference architecture recommendations as all manufacturers do. They are still bespoke boards though, and the could fit usb2 ports instead of Usb3 in an instant.
     
  11. \-V-/ Suspended

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    #11
    Because USB 2.0 is dead?
     
  12. rpmor, May 12, 2012
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

    rpmor macrumors member

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    #12
    going out of their way to avoid a practical piece of technology? its pointless esp since eventually these old designs wont be supported. even if in some extreme scenario they dont go now...they'll be there by next year...again i highly doubt they'd skip another year without it

    ----------

    given they now use intel chips...

    im pretty sure (1) they use a reference design from intel for a chipset (2) they will outline specs and then (3) send it to an OEM like Asus to get it designed and built...again im assuming here. but i doubt they work from scratch on all their designs...at the very least (1) happens....i understand they dont fabricate so they might design around a reference...


    edit: ya i did edit but when i did your post wasnt up yet so it prob happened at the same time.
     
  13. Chippy99, May 12, 2012
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

    Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    It was dead last year.

    Look, who knows. We'll see shortly won't we and maybe you will be proved right - I hope you are - I have some USB3 devices already and not many Thunderbolt ones, so I would really like to see USB3.

    I just have this horrible feeling that Apple left it out last year for marketing /tactical reasons, not technical ones. In fact I am convinced that part is true. ALL major motherboard manufacturers introduced USB3 last year even on their low end boards. Although it wasn't in series 6 chipsets, adding a USB3 controller to the board costs pennies - seriously it's literally pennies. (The NEC USB3 controller chip launched at $4.20 in 2009; by 2010 it was $1.60 per unit and the cost has fallen dramatically since. I don't have an exact figure to but to Apple it would have been significantly sub $1 in 2011.)

    So ALL motherboard manufacturers added USB3 in 2011. Apart from Apple, who did not. Conclusion? Apple left it out for a reason and the reason was not cost, nor technical difficulty.

    But 2012 is different, right? Well not really. There's still hardly any Thunderbolt peripherals. They still cost a fortune and USB is still the preferred standard. If Apple still don't want to introduce USB3 for "marketing/tactical reasons" then I am sure they won't. We will see.
     
  14. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Sorry, I missed this post entirely when I posted my earlier reply. I didn't mean to ignore you and no rudeness meant by me.

    You raise some good points. I had read that Thunderbolt is not in Ivybridge chipsets after initial indications were that it would be supported. Seems its somewhere in between.

    Still, it's going to be interesting to see how this is all going to pan out. Seems to me that USB3 has established itself and sooner or later Apple will have to go with the flow and offer it. I am just not convinced about when.

    Regards TB, who knows. Maybe it will take off like USB. Or maybe it will end up being an Apple only thing, with a few exceptions. I hope not. Might it end up being like FireWire? What a good analogy.
     
  15. \-V-/ Suspended

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    #15
    Unfortunately, I feel that is why they've left it out as well. They wanted to push their Thunderbolt tech and USB 3.0 would've gotten in the way of that. I just think it would be really silly of them to leave USB 3.0 out again come the refresh. All we can do is hope. I would really love to take advantage of my USB 3.0 peripherals this year with a new laptop.
     
  16. rpmor, May 12, 2012
    Last edited: May 12, 2012

    rpmor macrumors member

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    #16
    i think the reason for a year's delay was a result of two things (1) they'd rather wait for a motherboard to be USB3 native so the chipset drivers works as a whole and you dont need a dedicated USB3 driver to get the port to function. given how they design their OS specifically around the hardware components they utilise its a plausible reason and (2) they didnt want to take away Thunderbolt's thunder (hehe excuse the pun there) during its announcement and integration to new Macbook models and their displays. Also a third candidate (3) like Firewire they wanted to show they have an I/O that was better and unique to what is available to the 'rest' of the world...so considering (1) and (2) they chose to delay it and allow Thunderbolt to begin peeking the interests of everyone around.

    if it does come out to PC or rather if people like Asus design high end boards (namely their workstation ones and maybe the end gaming ones) prices will eventually drop and thunderbolt will trickle down to basic boards and then prices will become 'normal'. prices would be higher than USB3 but wont be 2-3x as much for the same capacity. the price difference will be akin to a firewire and usb3 devices are today.....which then leads to the qn what will happen to firewire when this happens? well i wouldn't be surprised if they replace the port eventually with another thunderbolt port or maybe release a new firewire type that can compete with usb3 but still fall far short from TB performances
     
  17. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    All sounds very plausible to me.

    Can I just add - having picked the thing up again this morning - it's also a complete *travesty* to be charged £40 for the Thunderbolt cable!

    This is profiteering, pure and simple. Apple basically saying "we can rip you off, so we will".

    The sooner that is prevented the better. My total bill for a 500GB drive with adapter and cable came to something around £210, compared to £70 if I wanted to run it as a USB3 drive. Utterly ridiculous. But I am forced to because the 2011 Mini has no USB3 ports, only TB.
     
  18. rpmor macrumors member

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #18
    looking at your images again. i do wonder whats inside that dock. if it ever breaks outside warranty *knocks on wood* do open it up. im curious to know why the bulk given there are devices at the same size as standard usb3 ones whilst offering the benefits of TB.

    but i guess i must ask cost aside. is the performance gains there through the dock mechanism?
     
  19. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Compared to USB2, yes, but depending on what you are doing it may or may not make much difference. The raw read and write speeds as around 100mb/s which is more than double what the drive can do under USB2. On the other hand, I did a Carbon Copy backup yesterday and it took 4 minutes 42 seconds with Thunderbolt. I tried it this morning with USB2 and it took 4 minutes 44 seconds! Admittedly it copied a few hundred megs less data, but even so.

    Compared to USB3, there's no difference whatsoever. Circa 100MB/s with either TB or USB3.

    Incidentally, I was wrong about the device having a fan in it. It does not. It's just a really noise drive. I hadn't noticed the noise when testing USB3 because the unit was then plugged in under my desk. So I wrongly concluded the TB connector was making the noise when it is not.

    Incidentally, TB vs USB3 aside, I think it's a horrible little drive. I have Samsung 1TB USB3 drive which is smaller (a bit thicker, but smaller overall), MUCH MUCH MUCH faster (3 muches), completely silent (really, completely) and runs stone cold. And it looks nicer too. The Seagate is rubbish by comparison. Worse in every respect.

    But BOY does it run hot. When you pull the TB cable out, the metal shield on the TB connector is too hot to touch! And like I mentioned before, the USB3 cable is more or less stone cold after using the device in USB3 mode.

    And yes, I'd be intrigued to know what on earth is taking up all the room in the device. Quite odd.
     
  20. rpmor, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    rpmor macrumors member

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    #20
    Thunderbolt in theoretical terms can out perform USB3 if im not mistaken if the controller at the device end can manage it...correct me if im wrong. i also assume the MBP controllers currently have the capacity to do at least half the throughput Thunderbolt should achieve given its maturity otherwise they really should have waited for the controller to atleast manage that before implementing it

    given that i have a recently purchased late 2011 model MBP and no upgrading for a reasonable 2 years or so. i really hope thunderbolt prices drop....ill prob get firewire if anything else for the WD Studio metallic construction while having the form factor i enjoy. the Lacie Porche are nice its just warranty is only 1 year. i hear the power supply craps out and well beside the 'Porche' name i dont find the design so attractive.
     
  21. radiogoober, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    radiogoober macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I agree. $50 for a cable to use the device absolutely sucks. I spent $700 on the WD MyBook Thunderbolt Duo (2 x 3 TB drives), which is incredible fast and awesome, but I had to drop another $50 just to plug the thing into my Mac! The thought of manufacturers not including that cable, with any other standard (USB, etc), would be sacrilege. It just seems stupid on Apple's part, because it's going to hinder the adoption of Thunderbolt.

    I totally agree that launching Thunderbolt along side of a USB3 port would have been suicide for Thunderbolt.

    Besides that stuff, is USB3 capable of everything TB can do? I know HD performance gains are negligible, but can USB3 supply monitors or run external graphics cards, or be daisy chained?

    TB seems like a fantastic tech, I hope it sticks around. Whatever happens, I kinds hate the competing technologies. Just make it simple and fast.

    Edit: I too have a seagate external USB2 and it's the biggest piece of crap. I accidentally installed their software once too, which can literally slow your Mac to a crawl and caused mine to have errors so strange (ie made my macs Bluetooth option disappear) that in 20+ years of heavy tech use I'd never seen. Most users d to NOT install the seagate software. Boy did seagate get one hell of a hatemail from me!

    -

    This situation sucks, because USB2 is slow as crap, and TB is expensive as hell. Give us usb3 for drives, etc, and TB if we want to use fast as hell peripherals
     
  22. Tora Shin macrumors newbie

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    Preston, UK
    #22
    TBH I have a 2011 MBP and I wish to hell they'd given me USB 3 instead of Thunderbolt. Who the hell has the kind of SSD RAID storage that would run faster than 5Gb/s? The best I'm hoping for is a reasonably priced hub with USB 3 ports. The only thing I would find TB useful for is an external GPU but things are looking pretty grim on that front too. :(
     
  23. Chippy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    This "external GPU" line is complete baloney. All modern graphics cards are PCI Express x16 and require *way* more bandwidth than Thunderbolt could ever manage. (8 Tb/s vs 1 Tb/s) And that's x16 3.0, and when x16 4.0 arrives it will be double that.

    Not surprising really considering (a) PCI Express 16x is 16 channel and (b) the wire length is limited to centimetres.

    Hanging a graphics card at the end of a TB wire will be more for low end 2d stuff and more "intelligent" displays. Not something that would be practically useful for anyone in reality.

    Yes, it's technically more advanced than USB3. Do we need it? No. Would USB3 have been infinitely preferable? Yes.

    We'll probably have USB4 before TB peripherals are cheap and commonplace.
     

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