Will Thunderbolt be able to deliver on its promises?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by djrobsd, May 9, 2011.

  1. djrobsd macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    A few weekends ago, my friend brought over an external USB 2.0 drive to copy 700 gigs worth of data off my computer... And needless to say, that file copy took over a day to finish.... Yikes!

    With HD movies being 5-30 gigs each (depending on file format), it's easy to see why we need more bandwidth for copying data and backing up files. The Thunderbolt promises to help us out with this, by making things much speedier.

    However, in all reality, I think that Thunderbolt is a bit ahead of its time right now... Not even the fastest SSD drives on the market can take advantage of Thunderbolt. And with most people having external drives needing capacities in the 1-2TB range, there are no SSD drives that large yet, and even the largest ones cost thousands of dollars, compared with just $100 bucks for a 2TB USB 2.0 external drive.

    So, this is going to leave consumers hungry, and disappointed, as only the wealthiest high end users will be able to afford the high capacity SSD drives using Thunderbolt. Any one care to take a stab at what La Cie will charge for that 500 gig Little Big Disk SSD thunderbolt external drive?? Or even the 240 gig one? ;)

    I noticed that La Cie also has a 1TB 7200RPM Little Big Disk Thunderbolt. But, will that 1TB 7200RPM drive actually be any faster then one hooked up to USB 2.0 since a 7200RPM drive can really only deliver 75-120MBPS performance??

    These are the questions pondering my mind, and I'd love to see a healthy debate and discussion on this. ;)
  2. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    I believe I read somewhere that to fully take advantage of Thunderbolt on an external storage device, you'd need that device to be an SSD. Standard HDD transfers via TB should still be faster than USB though. It's a good step forward.

    I personally don't see it taking off for a while because [my understanding is] there are hardly any computers that actually have this interface besides Macs. I think USB will be the standard port for a long way to come.
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    As USB 2.0 only offers 35MB/s read and write speeds at maximum on current Macs (+/- 3MB/s) and 7200RPM S-ATA HDDs offer up to 115MB/s read and write speeds, TB will be able to fully use that speed. Thus TB will be three times faster than USB with 7200RPM HDDs, and almost 1.6 times faster than Firewire 800.
    Knowing that, even platter based HDDs can be used via TB with quite fast speeds.
    With an average speed of 100MB/s one can read or write 360GB per hour.
  4. gorskiegangsta macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thunderbolt would not be used exclusively for transfer of files. You will also be able to output to external display(s), etc... Thunderbolt has a potential of replacing HDMI, USB, FireWire, eSATA, and a bunch of other ports and become one multipurpose standard. Imagine having a laptop with, say, 3 Thunderbolt ports each of which can perform almost any I/O function a port can perform (video input/output, file transfer, even network "fiber" transfer cable), while taking up a fraction of a space of something like USB or HDMI port.
  5. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    TB will be faster than USB 2.0 even on 7200rpm drives, so there is definitely benefit. If you want to get faster transfer speeds you will need multiple drives inside an array with a RAID setup.

    It's also good to note that TB is bi-directional so you can pull data off of the drive just as fast as you are uploading it with no performance loss!

    As time goes on, SSD's will come down in price, if you want them now you are going to pay the price to be an early adopter. This is the same for all technology. The first HDTV's were much much more expensive than they are today.

    Also, just because SSD's may not be able to utilize the full transfer speed of TB doesn't mean it's ahead of its time. Wouldn't you rather have headroom for drive speeds (or whatever else they think up - external dedicated GPU's maybe?) than be maxing it out right away and having to look for a new technology in a few years when drive speeds exceed TB?
  6. Just "Vinnie" macrumors member

    May 5, 2011
    SSD's have been around for a long time and the era of early adopters is done.

    The price isn't dropping as fast as it should though. I'd say take today's prices, cut them in half and they'll pretty much stay there. Maybe $1 per GB at best on larger SSD's. (With lots of luck)
  7. Jiten macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2008
    If an ordinary external HD with a TB connection would run as fast as an internal drive I'd be very happy.
  8. nufanec macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2005
    Not entirely true. No performance loss due to the interface is correct, but if you're copying from a traditional HD to traditional HD then the mediums themselves are not bi-directional. By that I of course mean that the drive is physically incapable of reading and writing simultaneously. It will fake it by interlacing read and write cycles but it vastly slows down drive performance (particularly if the read and write data is on different sections of a platter.
  9. Macsavvytech macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2010
  10. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    Correct, the tech is not affected, drives are still the bottleneck in the equation, however with multiple drives daisy chained you can upload/download from different drives at the same time... should have clarified better!
  11. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    With FW800, you're looking at 2x the performance of USB2.0 assuming that you're using an average performing 7200RPM drive. So I think it is safe to say that TB will be a significant upgrade even on your normal drives.
  12. djrobsd thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    That's a great theory but I would love to see the real world results. ;) No one has yet announced an external enclosure for regular SATA hard drives that plugs into Thunderbolt, so it may be a while before we can test that.
  13. djrobsd thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    Nice stuff... Can't wait to see pricing and availability. I'm also curious why they didn't indulge us with a 3.5" SATA IDE enclosure as well. ;)
  14. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    Nobody needs real world results to confirm that tb will surpass usb 2.0, it's already a known fact.

    also, there ARE regular hard drive enclosures.... someone even posted them in this thread for you to see ;)

  15. World Citizen macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
  16. DarkFlame macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    Actually, according to this article:


    The 1TB GoFlex external I picked up from staples (for $67 shipped next day air after a newegg price match and $25 off $75 coupon I bought off ebay) *should* have a $20 dollar thunderbolt adapter before the end of the year. Transferring files to and from my Vertex 3 SSD will be MUCH more palatable then.

    I put off buying the firewire adapter separately and am sticking it out w/ usb 2.0 until TB comes out.

    Only issue with my 13inch 2011 uMBP is that I didnt get 6GBps link speed in my optibay port (not only was this an unfair silent hardware revision that FU***D early adopters by preventing us from doing a raid 0 when SSD media becomes more affordable) AND, that it runs about 10 degrees hotter than I'd like it to (this is more of a preference) as it hasnt had a real world impact on me. Other than that, my Vertex 3 SSD also sucks up a little too much battery life for my taste (around 1Watt at idle :( )

  17. xxBURT0Nxx macrumors 68020


    Jul 9, 2009
    not that it's manditory, but it's recommended that you put the ssd where in the hard drive bay and switch your hard drive to the optibay. This would also give you the 6Gbps connection that you desire. You may consider switching the two..

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