USB-C obsoletes Thunderbolt ?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by lugesm, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. lugesm, Mar 25, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015

    lugesm macrumors 6502a

    lugesm

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    #1
    Just bought a top-of-the-line 27" iMac with all the latest technology. Paid a lot of money. Happy? Yes . . . . until I learned recently that USB-C will quickly obsolete my Thunderbolt and USB3.0 ports.

    With USB-C expected to be ubiquitous on Mac and PC we can expect a plethora of devices using this interface. Current Mac users will be locked out of this set of devices.

    This is disappointing and frustrating.

    I actually wrote an email to Tim Cook (Who knows if he will ever see it!) requesting that Apple consider producing a "Thunderbolt > USB-C" cable. I understand that it might not be possible to recreate all of the USB-C functionality, but such a cable would at least provide the physical interface for current Mac users.

    Am I alone in this position? Or, am I missing something?
     
  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #2
    I think you are missing something. USB-C uses a small form factor cable and is useful on tiny thin lower performance laptops like the new macbook. It does not provide nearly enough throughput for the power user. Good chance it will replace USB, but not thunderbolt, although in 5 years who knows.

    Seems to be more and more planned obsolescence being introduced by marketeers :) Anyway there will be a fuzzy cut off line somewhere between low end laptops and pro machines, low end gets USB-C and high end gets TB or both.

    USB3 is a disaster for disk drives, its a wait and see on USB-C which seem an even more complex protocol.
     
  3. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #3
    Thunderbolt can do 20Gb/s. USB 3.1 can do 10Gb/s. Also, while most are talking about how USB 3.1 will support up to 100watts of power, that will now be over USB-C, which will have a much lower and saner limit.

    Basically - don't worry about. Neither is obsolete.
     
  4. Mikael H macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #4
    You are missing something.
    USB-C is currently based on USB 3.1. That means that the Thunderbolt port is still effectively faster - I'm sure one of the peripherals you'll be able to buy soon (if it's not available already) will be a Thunderbolt to USB-C converter dongle just as you write.

    On a side note, you're being a bit naïve if you think that spending a lot of money on a computer somehow should protect its components from becoming obsolete over time. You have bought a very good computer which is very likely to be able do what you bought it for very well for years to come. Will your needs change over time? Probably. And sooner or later, depending on a number of factors, you'll spend money on another computer, which better covers your needs at that time. Until then, enjoy what you've bought. It hasn't suddenly become worse just because someone invented a new plug nor will it become a worse computer if the next model gets a new design.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    ColdCase wrote above:
    [[ USB3 is a disaster for disk drives...]]

    Absolute nonsense.
    Repeat - NONSENSE.

    USB3 has been fine for the vast majority of users.

    I've been booting and running my late-2012 Mac Mini for TWO YEARS using a USB3/SATA docking station. Have had both an Intel 530 series SSD, and now a Crucial m500, with absolutely NO problems whatsover, none.

    Boots and runs quickly, system is fast and stable. No problems with sleep, lack of TRIM, or anything else for that matter.

    You may have had problems with YOUR disk drives, but I say with assurance that most users have not....
     
  6. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #6
    Your narrow SSD view of the world may have you living in a dream land. The net is full of USB3 disasters. Your view could be tainted by the fact that most users are still using USB2 devices which is a much simpler interface and more widely compatible. Single use consumer USB3 portable drives may be more solid but once you start using desktop drives and hubs.... nothing but disaster. SSDs do not seem to tax the protocol like rotational media.

    Most have been much much happier after migrating from the USB3 storage interface kludge to Thunderbolt. There is just so many thinks that can go wrong and has gone wrong with USB3 storage, so many controller firmware versions with hiccups... There may be a couple USB3 drives and controllers that seem to be solid for heavy duty use, but that changes from month to month and I have yet to find an inexpensive model that consistently doesn't disconnect or doesn't wake from sleep. Count your blessings that you are one of the few that escaped issues.

    USB fan boys seem to pick up isolated success stories and try to apply it across the board, like politics.. and it usually works like politics :)
     
  7. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #7
    Just to correct this, Apple's implementation of USB-C maxes out at only 5Gb/s since it is using USB 3.1 Gen1 and not full USB 3.1 Gen2 @ 10Gb/s...

    Specs page of new Macbook
    http://www.apple.com/macbook/specs/

    Now eventually (assuming the 2016 Macbooks) we will see the full USB 3.1, but that's purely a guess.

    Anyway, Thunderbolt and USB are not the same. They each have their niche.
     
  8. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #8
    ColdCase wrote above:
    [[ Most have been much much happier after migrating from the USB3 storage interface kludge to Thunderbolt. There is just so many thinks that can go wrong and has gone wrong with USB3 storage, so many controller firmware versions with hiccups... There may be a couple USB3 drives and controllers that seem to be solid for heavy duty use, but that changes from month to month and I have yet to find an inexpensive model that consistently doesn't disconnect or doesn't wake from sleep. Count your blessings that you are one of the few that escaped issues. ]]

    Again, nonsense.

    Let me say that originally I WAS NOT "a fan" of USB, preferring firewire (and before that SCSI) and recommending that others use it, as well. When I bought a PowerMac g4 tower back in '04, I specifically custom-ordered it with an SCSI card -- which was seldom used.

    With the advent of USB2, USB became an acceptable alternative to firewire (though not completely equal). But with USB3, much of what made earlier iterations of USB problematic (such as over-taxing the CPU during transfers) has faded away.

    I use USB drives in all kinds of configurations:
    - external enclosures
    - bare drives in USB2/SATA docks
    - bare drives in USB3/SATA docks
    - bare drives connected to USB3/SATA dongles

    .... without problems, and know others using same with similar results.

    I regularly boot an run an older (white Intel) iMac from a USB2/SATA dock, it boots more slowly than from the internal drive but exhibits no difference once up and running.

    I've come to the realization through personal experience that modern USB is quite usable in most end-user situations. As someone who originally looked down on USB, I now see it as a technology that's going to be around long after "superior" techs such as firewire and thunderbolt are gone and forgotten.

    I agree that for high-volume transfers involving multiple-drive enclosures, thunderbolt is certainly better (for as long as thunderbolt remains as a technology, perhaps five more years or so). But for ordinary day-to-day storage involving single HDDs or even SSDs, USB serves the needs of most folks well-enough.

    It's not only my assessment.
    It's the MARKET's assessment.

    How many USB drives are sold, vis-a-vis thunderbolt drives?
     
  9. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #9
    Yeah - USB-C looks like the VHS to Thunderbolt's Betamax, I'm afraid. Like Betamax, Thunderbolt might find a professional niche for those areas where it does have a technical edge, but my guess is that USB-C will clean up the consumer and 'pro-sumer' market who don't need to run superfast SSD RAID setups or connect external PCIe cards (and USB-C has the potential to run PCIe too, in the future).

    If you want the glass to be half-full, there's a fighting chance that a Thunderbolt-to-USB-C adapter is possible and, if so, is quite likely to appear: apart from all the Macs out there there are PCs that have Thunderbolt, too (I've got a Lenovo at work with a TB port) so there's a market.

    Also, neither USB3.0 or Thunderbolt are going to vanish overnight. There's a HUGE installed base of USB 3.0 vs. zero USB-C users at current. What I don't think you're going to see is any new Thunderbolt displays beyond the 2 that already exist (Apple and LG) or much new development in things like Thunderbolt docks.

    The crunch is going to be when Thunderbolt 3 comes out (with different connectors, which won't help) and whether it arrives before the inevitable USB 3.2. I think Intel probably missed the bus (see what I did there?) by not having TB 3 in the shops before USB-C started appearing.
     
  10. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #10
    I will just expect some company to release a thunderbolt to usb-c hub.

    I don't use the thunderbolt on my iMac, and I probably won't need usb-c on my iMac either.
     
  11. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #11
    4k over USB 3.1 or TB 2 is OK. But 5k will need TB3 which we should see at WWDC this summer. We just might see a new Thunderbolt Display based on the iMac screen.
     
  12. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #12
    USB-C/3.1 will support 5k even though the MacBook doesn't (probably because the MacBook GPU doesn't support DP1.3 and couldn't hack 5k anyway). Where TB3 might have an advantage is in what it can carry at the same time as 5k: According to that VESA article USB-C needs all 4 high-speed lanes allocated to DisplayPort for 5k although it can carry USB-2 at the same time. Possibly TB3 will do better than that, but details seem sketchy at the moment.

    (I think the main difference that USB-C allocates between 1 and 4 of its physical physical wires to 'alternative' protocols like DisplayPort whereas TB can either switch the entire port into 'legacy Displayport' mode or multiplex TB and PCIe data over the same physical wires. Guessing that would make TB more bandwidth-efficent, but USB-C rather simpler to implement and easier to add new/upgraded protocols to.)

    OTOH, USB-C will be able to support 4k and a high-speed USB 3.1 channel at the same time, so there will be plenty of third party USB-C 4k 'docking' displays aimed at the PC market.

    That's the problem: not that TB isn't better than USB-C, but that USB-C will be "good enough" for so many purposes, and have such mass-market support, that TB is confined to hyper-expensive "niche" devices.
     
  13. larrysing1963 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2014
    #13
    My 2016/2017/2018 prediction:

    5K will never become an industry standard, so any discussion of it is wasted time. :p
     

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