Will there be a USB 3 to thunderbolt adapter?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by waloshin, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. waloshin, Sep 20, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011

    waloshin macrumors 68040

    waloshin

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    #1
    Will there be a USB 3 to thunderbolt adapter?

    And do these USB 3 external harddrive that you can get from companies like Western Digital even worth it over USB 2? Do they even see a benefit of using USB 3?

    Thanks
     
  2. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

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    #2
    There will be Thunderbolt to USB 3 adaptors but not USB 3 to Thunderbolt.
     
  3. waloshin thread starter macrumors 68040

    waloshin

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    #3
    So what your saying is the only way to plug in a USB 3 drive into a new mac is through Usb 2?
     
  4. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

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    #4
    No, you will be able to plug a USB 3 drive into the Thunderbolt port on you Mac via an adaptor.

    They cost a lot of money at the moment, the Sonnet Thunderbolt ExpressCard 34 adaptor and USB 3 card costs around $270 when you include the Apple Thunderbolt cable.
     
  5. waloshin thread starter macrumors 68040

    waloshin

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    #5
    So will you need a express card slot or just thunderbolt connector ?
     
  6. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

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    #6
    The ExpressCard adaptor plugs into the Thunderbolt port and the ExpressCard plugs into the adaptor. Hopefully there will be cheaper TB to USB 3 adaptors coming soon but the Sonnet solution is the only one currently available to order (shipping in October).
     
  7. gentlefury macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Is that $270 for the adapter, the card and the cable? I just bought a USB3 drive for $90. So $330 for a 1TB USB3 Drive (one time fee for most of it). The only portable TB drive is $399 for 1TB. Sounds like a good deal to me.
     
  8. Ridley macrumors regular

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    #8
    I have the late 2006 15 inch MBP that included an expresscard 34 slot. I use an external hard drive connected via esata through expresscard on a regular basis. While it is much faster than usb 2, its not as fast as usb 3 or thunderbolt. If you go with the system described here... thunderbolt -> expresscard -> usb 3 your speed is going to be bottle necked to expresscard.

    Side note here, I realize i'm late replying to this. I was actually searching for a USB 3 to Thunderbolt adapter and was surprised to see they still didn't exist. A USB 3 hard drive enclosure is $20 on newegg. Thunderbolt drives are still CRAZY expensive... and so are the cables! Furthermore, my setup now i regularly hook up a triplehead2go monitor array to my MBP as well as the eSata HDD. I wouldn't be able to do that with today's Apple machines without buying $260 worth of adapters AND 3 new monitors! (since fast storage and monitor are the same port) That is crazy expensive and a definite step backwards. Vote with your dollar please, I want Apple to be back on track.
     
  9. Steelgrave macrumors member

    Steelgrave

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    #9
    Thunderbolt is the new Firewire unfortunately.
     
  10. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #10
    Not sure if I'm wasting my time here but for the benefit of others:

    For a single external spinning HDD, thunderbolt is a poor value proposition. It's not really for stuff like that. Just plug the external HDD into your USB 2 port. You will lose a little off max sequential transfer, but it won't really be noticeable.

    If you spend lots of money to connect your USB3 external HDD to your MBA via a witches brew of thunderbolt dongles and adaptors, the extra speed won't really be noticeable.

    Thunderbolt is more for connecting external SSDs, monitors, massive racks of HDDs, which can use the gigantic bandwidth that Thunderbolt gives.

    In a few more months, cheapish thunderbolt-usb3 adaptors will appear, but they'll still be expensive.

    If you want a bit more speed than USB2, and can't wait, your best bet is to get an Expresscard-USB3 adaptor. Around $20, which is cheaper than a thunderbolt-USB3 adaptor is ever likely to be.

    google linky

    Other people might go for Expresscard-firewire adaptors, which cost about the same if, like me, they already have some firewire gear.
     
  11. gentlefury macrumors 68030

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    #11
    If that were true there would actually be hardware available for it!! Thunderbolt is a new thing all its own...a high speed port that doesn't have anything to plug into it! (except a $6000 raid array and a $500 "portable" drive!)
     
  12. Orlandoech macrumors 68040

    Orlandoech

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  13. Steelgrave macrumors member

    Steelgrave

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    #13
    Don't forget the cables that by themselves are $50+ lol. When firewire originally came out it was a very similar situation. The few firewire drives available were a fortune.

    Rumor is PC manufacturers will have it built in by Q4 2012, but that's only a rumor. I would guess the Ivy Bridge chipsets will have it when they come out in April/May but I'm not positive as I haven't paid that much attention lately.

    I'm not sure how they priced the Raid array's and portable drives the way they did, but people that spend that kind of money on storage generally do it for an entire network (NAS/SAN). They priced themselves right out of their own market. Not to mention that USB 3 is already ingrained into the majority of new PC's and is backwards compatible to 1.1/2.0 devices.

    T-bolt was a great idea, it's just gone to market the worst possible way (exclusive to apple and devices priced so that the only buyers are those that can buy their spouses a car for xmas like the commercials show lol). USB3 is going to be the standard for the 99%.
     
  14. Consultant macrumors G5

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    #14
    Not the same.

    Portable TB drive is a dual drive RAID with 7200RPM.

    You probably only got a 5400RPM single drive.
     
  15. Deefizzle macrumors newbie

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    #15
    How about dual USB3.0 to thunderbolt?

    How about dual USB3.0 to thunderbolt?


    As we all know USB3.0 has speeds up to 5Gbps and Thunderbolt has speeds up to 10Gbps

    So how about an adaptor that converts TWO USB3.0 ports into one Thunderbolt port? If you say no there wont be then I am going to go invest some money in someone who CAN make one because from what I saw at the CES today there are some up and coming external GPU units that connect via Thunderbolt.

    We all know how difficult it can be to upgrade the GPU on most laptops... so to have an external plug in GPU is genius... the demand will be huge!
     
  16. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816

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    #16
    check the CES announcements, there was something about a windblows system with TB onboard.......can't remember details but.....

    As we all know, once some tech idea gets rolling on the peecee side (like USB did, originally a Mac-only thing) adoption rates explode, prices drop, and EVERYBODY starts making stuff for it as fast as they can get them out the door........... usually all within a few months too :eek:

    Of course, some of this depends on Intel & how they go about licensing the controller tech to mobo & device makers, but if they have 1 ounce of sense left, they will hand out those licenses like candy to babies :)
     
  17. jtee macrumors newbie

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    #17
    USB was never a Mac-only thing. I guess you meant FireWire...
     
  18. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030

    Darth.Titan

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    #18
    The original iMac started the ball rolling with USB a good while before it became standard on PCs. It was difficult for quite a while to find a USB keyboard or mouse. PS2 remained the standard for too long.
     
  19. forgottensoft macrumors regular

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    #19
    From a technology standpoint I don't think this will be possible. Thunderbolt is a PCI based technology, meaning it is pretty flexible but USB 3 is serial so you will have Thunderbolt based cards and adapters for USB 3 but you will never be able to go from USB3 devices straight into a Thunderbolt connector.
     
  20. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #20
    Won't work.

    USB is mediated by the processor, ie the cpu chip spends some time sorting out all USB communications. That's why all USB devices only plug into a host computer, not into each other. That's also why real-world USB max speed is a long way from theoretical max.

    Thunderbolt is like Firewire, it's a bus protocol, - devices can plug into each other in a chain, and data is shovelled onto the bus pathway as fast as it can take it, without needing to ask the CPU anything. In theory, the spec allows for two firewire devices to pass data to each other without any computer involved, which I think has been implemented with some high-end AV gear, but I haven't seen it myself.

    That's also why Firewire and probably TB too, approach quite closely their theoretical max speed in real world implementations. From a pure bandwidth view, you would need at least 3 USB 3.0 connections to begin to match a single first-generation TB connection.
     
  21. firestarter, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #21
    I disagree RedTomato.

    A modern spinning full size external HDD could reasonably be expected to transfer data at 100MB/s (continuous, not peak).

    Both Thunderbolt, USB3 and eSATA are easily faster than this.

    FW800 probably won't give you more than 70-75MB/s and USB2 is unlikely to go past 25MB/s.

    Especially on large backups (using CCC or SuperDuper to image your main drive), USB2 is a slow option - which will increase your backup time by hours. You're easily wasting 3/4 of the available write speed of the drive too. The market has been gasping for a better faster standard for a few years, and that's now here in the form of USB3.

    I hope that Apple implements USB3 when new Intel chipsets become available in a few months. We'll see at that point whether they'd prefer to play with the market by denying support - since the capability will be there 'for free'.

    Once Apple support USB3 and include drivers for it in the OS, it'll become a lot easier for third parties to create Thunderbolt->USB3 adapters - since they will only have to worry about the hardware side, and they'll be able to leverage Apple's driver. At the present time, it will look like a poor investment for a third party to write their own OSX USB3 driver.

    Prior to these drivers being available, it would seem more sensible for Mac owners to look at eSATA adapters as a better external standard. Unfortunately FW800 drives seem to be becoming rarer and more expensive.
     
  22. gnasher729, Jan 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012

    gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    #22
    In my experience, connected to a 2010 MBP, consistently 34 MB/sec. Copying from one external hard drive to another also 34 MB/sec, which means the MBP can simultaneously read 34 MB/sec from one USB port and write 34 MB/sec to another USB port.


    Please state more clearly what you actually want. Since there are no Macs with USB 3.0 ports, an adaptor that converts two USB 3.0 ports to a Thunderbolt port would be useless for Mac users. So do you mean an adapter that converts one Thunderbolt port on the Mac to two USB 3.0 ports? Shouldn't be a problem at all. However, the Mac would then need USB 3.0 drivers, and since there are no Macs with USB 3.0, it could very well be that there are no drivers. To connect fast hard drives, Thunderbolt to eSATA would be much more useful.
     
  23. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #23
    That's not bad... faster than I've ever seen.

    My point still stands. 34MB/s is too slow.
     
  24. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #24
    I think we agree actually. I agree with you that USB 2.0 cant take advantage of the full speed of modern HDDs, and that new standards are needed.

    However, my point was that compared to a straight USB 2.0 connection, spending hundreds of dollars on piping a USB 3.0 HDD through two or three different adaptors, each with their own overhead and processing delay, into a thunderbolt port, was unlikely to gain much in real-world use.
     

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