What exactly is thunderbolt?

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,419
768
I did search and I looked on apple.

But I am a bit confused still.
I don't know much about the technical end of computers.
So who exactly would use this?
Thunderbolt is an interface for connecting devices. It's much faster than other interfaces, such as Firewire or USB, which makes moving data faster between devices and your computer faster. It's helpful when you want to transfer large amounts of data between your computer and an external drive or an external display.
 
Nov 28, 2010
22,670
28
located
I did search and I looked on apple.

But I am a bit confused still.
I don't know much about the technical end of computers.
So who exactly would use this?
People, who need fast transfer rates for huge amounts of data, most common example is film/video editors, who need a fast data throughput with all the footage they use.
As TB also allows daisy chaining, one can use up to six TB devices via one port, including one or two displays.
Firewire 800 is already fast, but with the arrival of SSDs and more and more RAID systems (several HDDs or SSDs combined to allow for more data throughput), TB has a clear advantage, though FW800 allows up to 63 devices connected to one port (but no display). I have successfully connected twelve HDDs to one port via this port, but TB clearly offers much more data throughput and options, than FW800 does.
Hopefully we will see more acceptance of TB this year, as last year was a bit slow in this regard, though it seems, that this year is heading in the right direction.

Example:
FW 800 offers approx. 70 MB/s, TB offers (with a RAID system of several HDDs or with SSDs) up to 1 GB/s, thus 1 TB of data (not much, when one edits with footage, that is properly encoded or even uncompressed), can be copied in 17 minutes via TB, while it would take FW800 237 minutes, a disadvantage of 13 times slower.
 

mmomega

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2009
3,472
1,665
DFW, TX
I did search and I looked on apple.

But I am a bit confused still.
I don't know much about the technical end of computers.
So who exactly would use this?


Anyone that wants to adopt it (expensive compared to the current 'older technology') and wants fast transfer speeds to an external device.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,880
221
Harrogate
So, when can we realistically expect to see affordable TB HDDs?
Define affordable. Thunderbolt is likely to remain at least as expensive as SCSI was (if you remember that) and/or as Firewire was/is. It is inherently more expensive for a manufacturer to implement as the controller chips are much more expensive to buy as they are much larger and more complex to manufacture that USB. The root cause of this is the higher speed, daisy chain capabilities and so on. I think, eventually, you'll see TB drives/enclosures that are a bit more expensive than USB but not too much more. Like Firewire is more than USB now.
 

jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
913
38
Define affordable. Thunderbolt is likely to remain at least as expensive as SCSI was (if you remember that) and/or as Firewire was/is. It is inherently more expensive for a manufacturer to implement as the controller chips are much more expensive to buy as they are much larger and more complex to manufacture that USB. The root cause of this is the higher speed, daisy chain capabilities and so on. I think, eventually, you'll see TB drives/enclosures that are a bit more expensive than USB but not too much more. Like Firewire is more than USB now.
bhphoto video had the seagate portable HD adapter on their site yesterday. The MSRP is $99. First it listed for $129.99, then 139.99, then finally 149.99. This is all without the TB cable which is $45 at their site or $50 at the apple store. That's $200 before you add the hard drive.
 

laxman101

macrumors regular
May 6, 2011
117
0
Define affordable. Thunderbolt is likely to remain at least as expensive as SCSI was (if you remember that) and/or as Firewire was/is. It is inherently more expensive for a manufacturer to implement as the controller chips are much more expensive to buy as they are much larger and more complex to manufacture that USB. The root cause of this is the higher speed, daisy chain capabilities and so on. I think, eventually, you'll see TB drives/enclosures that are a bit more expensive than USB but not too much more. Like Firewire is more than USB now.
I would define affordable as less that $150 per 1TB
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,880
221
Harrogate
I would define affordable as less that $150 per 1TB
Fair enough. That's bound to happen in time as drive prices get cheaper. But would you pay $140 for a 1Tb drive when the USB version is $60? Probably not which was the point of my post: you have to look at the price relative to some base point.
 

Dweez

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2011
1,248
10
Down by the river
But would you pay $140 for a 1Tb drive when the USB version is $60?
I would pay the extra for the additional performance. I opted for a 1 tb firewire 800 drive vs the less expensive usb drive simply for performance. In my case I run a number of virtual machines and running a few from the firewire drive provided great performance compared to usb.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,880
221
Harrogate
I would pay the extra for the additional performance. I opted for a 1 tb firewire 800 drive vs the less expensive usb drive simply for performance. In my case I run a number of virtual machines and running a few from the firewire drive provided great performance compared to usb.
Ah well in that case I suspect that Thunderbolt may eventually get down towards the same sort of premium that Firewire 800 has now. I think Thunderbolt is more expensive to implement but it seems it may be more widely used/accepted so economy of scale should push it down enough to compensate.
 
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