Thunderbolt Technology Stagnating?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Radiating, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Radiating macrumors 65816

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    Dec 29, 2011
    #1
    When Intel announced thunderbolt and Apple backed it, I hoped that Apple would release it's own range of products, like PCIe docks, thumb drives, large multi drive HDD enclosures, 4k displays, external 10GigE network cards etc.

    All they ended up doing instead is releasing a bunch of thunderbolt to XYZ cables.

    With the immanent release of the nMP I can't help but feel that Apple has painted itself into a corner. The only connectivity an expansion the nMBP has is thunderbolt, but there is nothing to expand it with because Apple hasn't backed the technology and there are only a few niche products.

    I was hoping and I think Apple was hoping third party companies would step in with a wide range of solutions, but this doesn't seem to be happening. In fact there are tons of thunderbolt products that were paraded around last year's trade shows that I would like to have, but the majority of proposed thunderbolt products seem to have been canceled likely because the manufacturers saw that nobody cared.

    It seems like Thunderbolt isn't gaining adoption without Apple backing it with peripherals.

    Does anyone else feel this way?
     
  2. MattDSLR macrumors 6502

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    #2
    This is one of the reason I do not trust much the nMP

    PC looks like will not is not supporting TB
    until than TB will be a glorified display port and USB 4 and 5 may be at the speed of TB
    I remember the days when apple came out with firewire and PC with USB
    and the fait started
    at the end they both had them both and it allowed to grow both of them but for now TB is something that may work but will not evolve unless is PC supported
     
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #3
    I disagree. There are a lot of products and I believe Apple has backed it as much as they can by building it into every product where it's relevant. Look at the list of products here...
    https://thunderbolttechnology.net/products

    What's missing that you need?

    Drive enclosures, 10GBE interfaces and 4K displays that connect via TB are already here. If Apple offered a 4K display with TB2 and docking ports built-in tomorrow, it would likely cost $4K (at least)... Is that really what people want? 4K is still so bleeding edge it doesn't even work fully on a Mac right now.

    On the other hand, if you tried to convince me the prices of TB products were still too high for mass adoption, I might agree, but the current crop of TB products are actually extremely high build quality. The Taiwanese PC peripheral manufacturers haven't jumped on board yet, but when they do, you'll probably see all kinds of cheap crappy TB peripherals (e.g. enclosures with cheap noisy fans and $10 power supplies for under $100... Is that really what people want?).

    The nMP is going to create a new level of demand for TB peripherals so hopefully we'll see some economies of scale kick in on some of the more popular products and some of the aforementioned cheap crap might emerge as well.
     
  4. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #4
    I just don't understand how anyone can make these statements with a straight face.
     
  5. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #5
    For what it is adoption has been fine. What do you expect, Thunderbolt on every mouse? It's like SCSI or Firewire, meant for the larger devices. I can think of three docks off the top of my head and numerous hard drives - what else do you need?

    Personally I'd like to see a $50 TB 8 port USB 3 hub, and otherwise better 3rd party hubs, but we are seeing widespread adoption.
     
  6. Lesser Evets macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

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    Jan 7, 2006
    #6
    Thunderbolt is an ingenious idea.

    However, it is slightly out of step with market and reality. The benefit of Thunderbolt is evident, but not necessary for most people. Having everything contain an identical connector would be convenient in many ways, and TB has benefits over USB. If Apple pursues implementation, it might become favored.

    Many peripherals just don't need the speed of either USB3 or TB 1/2. Within that paradigm, TB is a great monitor and video-data bus and little else to an overwhelming majority of computer users.

    I expect TB to hobble along similar to the old FW, aside from the benefit of being a monitor connector.
     
  7. LongSticks macrumors 6502

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    Kent, UK
    #7
    Matt the problem with USB 4 is it's not even on the horizon. TB is the only reasonable speed solution other than Ethernet.

    Section below is from Whoratesit...

    USB 4.0 speed and release date estimates?
    There are currently no official proposals for the USB 4.0 specification however if its speed increase is in line with previous spec revisions, it should offer transfer rates of approximately 10,000 MBps, ten times faster than both its predecessor and Thunderbolt. In terms of release date, the previous major USB releases are spaced out by approximately six years so we estimate around the 2020 mark for USB 4.0.

    Whether USB3.1 can pick up the slack is unclear, but was only finalised in the middle of this year. Looks like devices may appear next year, but no firm dates yet as far as I can see.

    TB is starting to appear on Windows machines, finally.....may start to help prices reduce which seems to be people's bugbear. Personally, I use TB and think it is worth additional investment for the increased speed.
     
  8. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

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    Mar 1, 2010
    #8
    About a year ago we had this same discussion. Even back then we counted at least 50+ products that use Thunderbolt. So I disagree with you.
     
  9. Varmann, Dec 7, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013

    Varmann macrumors member

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    Jan 3, 2010
    #9
    Stagnating in relation to what?

    We cannot expect TB to rival USB in adoption, not next year, not in three years, and I would bet a lot of money on "ever".

    It is expensive, and has technical and licensing restrictions for those wishing to implement it. My guess is that it will be like firewire, a higher end alternative to USB that does well in some niche markets without taking off on a broader scale. Universal Audio, Netter, BlackMagic, Apogee Electronics and AJA are probably good representatives for companies to whom it makes most sense adopting it.
     
  10. Ccrew macrumors 68020

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    Feb 28, 2011
    #10
    While I understand where you're coming from, in reality it's another step deeper down the Apple ecosystem rabbit hole.

    Just as an example, As an IT person I'm now having for work to split between what I do on a Mac and doing work on windows to support hardware that a Mac doesn't so it has to be hardware versus VM. In doing so I was looking to assemble a PC that would make use of one or both of my Thunderbolt monitors. Trying to find that hardware on the Windows side that will support it isn't impossible, but it's limiting as all heck.
     
  11. cube macrumors G5

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    May 10, 2004
    #11
    There are new mobile workstations from HP and Lenovo that have Thunderbolt.
     
  12. Ccrew macrumors 68020

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    Feb 28, 2011
    #12
    I didn't say that there weren't *any.. The statement was that they are not widely out there. The Dell XPS 27 will also support it as a second screen supposedly.

    What most folks don't realize also is that the Apple monitor will work in just a displayport plug, but when you plug the Thunderbolt display into a mini-displayport of a PC, it acts just like every other screen that is on the market. But NONE of the usbs, mic, camera, ethernet or speakers will work, as they require a Thunderbolt connection.
     
  13. cube macrumors G5

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    #13
    Wouldn't a PC with DisplayPort also work for that?
     
  14. Idefix macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Not if you lose all the benefits of Thunderbolt monitors...
     
  15. takasugi macrumors regular

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    Feb 21, 2012
    #15
    AFIK you can't connect a PC with Displayport to an Apple TBD - it won't work even as a monitor.
     
  16. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #16
    Thunderbolt and USB are not replacements for each other, that's the problem here. Same as Firewire and USB are not replacements for each other.

    USB is not usable for large/super fast boxes of disks or PCI-E work. Thunderbolt is not usable for mice, keyboards, and thumb drives.

    They're each trying to solve two different problems. They can peacefully co-exist.

    Even if USB got faster, it's not really a replacement for what Thunderbolt does.

    As many PCs support Thunderbolt as supported Firewire when Firewire was as young.

    If Thunderbolt is "only" as popular as Firewire, that's totally fine. Again, this post is trying to imply there is a fight that actually isn't going on.
     
  17. Ccrew macrumors 68020

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    #17
    The problem is that manufacturers price TB options into the stratosphere and are apparently astonished when they don’t sell.

    That’s not to say Thunderbolt was wasted effort, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. The research that went into the design and its unique capabilities could well lead to future, simpler interfaces down the road or advances in optical communication (Thunderbolt did start out as the fiber-optic Light Peak, after all). Looking at the Thunderbolt ecosystem as it exists, it’s difficult to see much future. It’s not just cable cost — it’s the presence of USB 3, the fact that external graphics for mobile systems has never made much headway despite years of prototypes, the need for new displays to take full advantage of what Thunderbolt can do, and the fact that manufacturers treat docks like cash cows instead of mass market opportunities. Standards with bigger relative advantages have failed against lower odds; FireWire is a cautionary tale for how a dramatically superior standard can wither and die in the face of royalty payments that amounted to pennies on the dollar.

    It’s doubtful Thunderbolt will achieve even FW400-levels of success. FireWire was adopted by the video industry because USB’s terminally slow signalling rate was utterly unsuited for even the modest demands of 2000-era equipment. USB 3 got rid of the CPU-dependent transfers and interrupts that made USB 2 problematic, and adds a theoretical peak bandwidth of 5Gbps, or 625MB/s. Even the fastest SSDs are incapable of saturating a link that fast. Thunderbolt is technologically impressive but practically problematic — without a major overhaul, it’s going nowhere.
     
  18. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #18
    A single SSD might not saturate USB3, but Thunderbolt's use case is really larger external expansion. If you're adding multiple drives to a machine, especially a laptop, you might have 2-4 SSDs all pushing bandwidth.

    The other thing that makes Thunderbolt really a different use case is it uses the PCI-E protocol, and USB3 does not. This makes Thunderbolt suitable for things like port expansion, display, and other sorts of devices you'd find as PCI-E that USB3 really can't support without additional cost and speed loss. The protocol's still make them very different use cases.

    A year or two in Firewire was really still the "Mac" connector. The iPod helped move it along a bit. But with Intel pressuring PC makers to add it I still think it could do better than Firewire.

    But again, there is no USB3/Thunderbolt death match going on here. So doing well doesn't mean USB3 has to lose.
     
  19. MattDSLR macrumors 6502

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    #19
    but you do not get much of increased speed from internal drives, as they still operate at the same speed. So why add external component and possibly another bug to the system. apple still has not proven that the multiple 4k monitors monitors and lets say 4 external drives will provide you with more speed, and I know fiscally that is impossible as drives have a max speed, and TB will not speed them up (yes we know it should not slow them down)
     
  20. LongSticks macrumors 6502

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    Kent, UK
    #20
    Sorry you've lost me there. The OP is about thunderbolt and hence external. Your now on about internal drives? Internal is always quicker we know that. I mentioned that My TB1 drive is quicker than current USB, for my uses and therefore worth the investment.

    All I posted was that USB 3.1 will match TB1 and USB 4, TB2 equivalent, may be 6 yrs away!
     
  21. propower macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2010
    #21
    I agree with OP - and with the guy who said "what is out there is priced very high"

    As an audio professional

    - Almost no TB audio interfaces
    - No TB external single or dual drive cases with 2 ports and let me put my own drives in
    - 4 and 5 bay cases for TB are all by companies I never heard of before (except blackmagic)
    - Pretty much no single TB empty cases to put my own drives in
     
  22. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #22
    You have never heard of Lacie, Promise and Areca? :confused:
     
  23. n8mac macrumors 6502

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    Jun 25, 2006
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    Ohio
    #23
    So now PC came out with USB? LOL. More like Apple came out with USB and Firewire while PC was stuck with PS/2.
     
  24. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #24
    You are referring to point 4 I take it? The rest are spot on. Except that most audio houses support TB-Firewire and that works well. I have an issue that they have not adopted to leverage the bandwidth TB offers. With dongle you still have a FW audio solution. You should be able to do massive tracking with TB. Pro-Tools will come out with some kind of thing I would assume. The cheapo brands will probably tweak drivers and bet on USB 3.
     
  25. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Vancouver, BC
    #25
    - There are a couple of audio interfaces out there with TB, but most use USB or FW which don't need native TB when a FW-TB adaptor is $29.
    - There is definitely a lack of cheap BYOD enclosures, but be careful what you wish for... When the Taiwanese get on this, you'll have plenty of cheap crappy noisy enclosures to choose from. :)
    - I'm not sure who you've heard of, but who makes drive enclosures that you know of that you wish made TB enclosures? Nearly everyone I know of in the Mac space is already doing TB. Only the Taiwanese seem absent, and I'm not sure they're sorely missed ;)
    - Connecting a single drive via TB makes no sense, USB 3 has that covered perfectly with a plethora of cheap options. However, Seagate (at least) makes a nice solution for those that want this. There might be others but I've not researched this much.
    - If you need new drives, and people ought to be using this as an opportunity to consider simplifying, consolidating, and refreshing their storage, then WD Thunderbolt Duo solutions are great value.
     

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