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First Look: Inside Apple's fast new Thunderbolt port on MacBook Pros - Page 3

post #81 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

"Thunderbolt technology is based on a switched fabric architecture with full-duplex links. Unlike bus-based I/O architectures, each Thunderbolt port on a computer is capable of providing the full bandwidth of the link in both directions with no sharing of band- width between ports or between upstream and downstream directions. The Thunderbolt protocol architecture can be abstracted into four layers as shown in Figure 2." (http://www.intel.com/technology/io/t...US_secured.pdf)

I wonder if it supports closed loops like 1394b. It is certainly useful if you need to remove nodes on the chain.

In any case I assume that this is basically external PCI-e.



That's true. I believe AMDs technical brief for the 6000-series suggested that there would be DisplayPort "splitters" as a stopgap measure. I have not bothered to look for any though. Anyway, the 10 Gbit bandwidth for DisplayPort provided by Thunderbolt is still less than the 17.3 Gbit provided by DisplayPort 1.2, which is unfortunate since it is not enough for two 2560x1600/1440@60 Hz displays.

Somewhere, in my reading I saw reference to a "4 by" TB (4 parallel TB connections), as an intermediate step.

Also, as defined, the Lightpeak spec supports 100 Gbit over optic.

So, there appears to be room for growth to accommodate multiple displays.
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post #82 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I'm glad that Mac users haven't been enjoying USB 3.0 for the past year, because Apple was smart and decided to move straight to Thunderbolt instead, which is superior to USB 3.0. Anyway, what's out for USB 3.0 anyway? It doesn't look like it's caught on exactly. I've always been skeptical of USB and even firewire 1 is better than USB 2.0 when it comes to real world usage. Good riddance to USB is what I say.

It didn't catch on because Intel purposefully delayed implementing it into their chipset designs, artificially delaying it by more than 18 months after the spec has finalized, for the mere fact that Light Peak wasn't ready. This slowed the adoption of USB 3.0, since only AMD chipsets and add-in cards included USB 3.0, which eliminated most laptops from implementing it even if the device manufacturer wanted to, including Apple.

Besides, I'm sure there are plenty of in-house studios standardized on Mac who would respectfully disagree about being "glad" they haven't been enjoying USB 3.0 for the last year on their Macbook Pros. Just sayin'



Quote:
But I like the view from up here.

I guess you could say Apple's new Thunderbolt is... *sunglasses*... electrifying.... YEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHhhhhhhhh....
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post #83 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

In any case I assume that this is basically external PCI-e.

Apple finally gave us the 6 slot mac we asked for.. in fact they gave us 7 . Who, knew it would be a notebook?
post #84 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Won't happen in 2012. You still need USB to sync your current iPhone

But it will happen eventually.

Actually, no. All you will need is a thunderbolt to 30pin connector. That is pretty much the point of thunderbolt, after all.
post #85 of 161
The graphic in the article refers to "...Inte's PCI Express...." Someone may want to correct the spelling of "Intel."
post #86 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

FW800 was not bad but it hardly caught on outside Apple and Apple dumped it like a hot potato(e).

Dumped? I thought I saw it right there beside the ThunderBolt port
post #87 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by reliason View Post

Actually, no. All you will need is a thunderbolt to 30pin connector. That is pretty much the point of thunderbolt, after all.

True, but considering most of Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod consumers are Windows users, and the older ports are still available on the new machines, I don't think we'll see that USB 30-pin connector disappear any time soon.

Someday, though.
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post #88 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugality View Post

The lightning bolt icon is a bit decieving. Someone looking at it for the first time will assume that it must be the port for the power cord.

Big issue since the power cord will fit and burn your laptop.

Try the switch behind your ear, Brain ON;-)

Didn't find it...sorry, can't help you there...
post #89 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by eswinson View Post

Apple finally gave us the 6 slot mac we asked for.. in fact they gave us 7 . Who, knew it would be a notebook?

Very true!
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post #90 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by martimus3060 View Post

I get the bandwidth thing, and with the intention to log all those peripherals on one bus, I reckon that's a good thing, but as to addressable speed, are there any disk/storage type devices that can "get up to speed" so to speak? SSDs have the capability but their controllers are for now limited in speed. Striped disk arrays (RAID 0) can also increase their throughput and boost speed, but both FW800 (with SATA drives) and eSATA are much slower than 10Gbps, so I'm still wondering where our improved performance (where the computer rubber hits the road) might come from? In other words, where are the new drive controllers that can boost the SSD or RAID 0 storage to this new capability? And what are they going to cost? Native Firewire drives never took off because of the expense of the controller.

The latest Sandforce controller supports speeds of over 500MB/s per drive under certain loads. Two would saturate the SATA 6GB/s bus already. But having that and another device in the chain would make this worthwhile. If you use two SATA drives in their own cases, you coils still get to raid them, and will have faster speeds than one raid physically in the same case, using the one SATA port otherwise.

Quote:

No, I understand one port to rule them all, as I stated earlier. I also currently have multiple machines using multiple external Firewire hard drives, that are SATA based with SATA/FW bridge boards. If Intel and whoever don't have cheap controllers that scale the devices up to those speeds (The announcement mentions copying an HD movie in 30 seconds) then just like using a SATA/FW bridgeboard is the current implementation for external FW drives versus a native FW controller, we will have this neat speed thing, but limited access to it. So, while I am not predicting FAIL, I am wondering about where the speed is going to come from.

Well, I don't use FW drives any more. Much too slow. If you're going to do this right with TB, you would need a TB case to put that SATA 6GB/s drive into. Every time a better interface comes out, we've got to dump our older stuff, like it or not.
post #91 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugality View Post

The lightning bolt icon is a bit decieving. Someone looking at it for the first time will assume that it must be the port for the power cord.

Spot on! In fact I've seen it used in devices as a warning to indicate live power.
post #92 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by yuusharo View Post

It didn't catch on because Intel purposefully delayed implementing it into their chipset designs, artificially delaying it by more than 18 months after the spec has finalized, for the mere fact that Light Peak wasn't ready. This slowed the adoption of USB 3.0, since only AMD chipsets and add-in cards included USB 3.0, which eliminated most laptops from implementing it even if the device manufacturer wanted to, including Apple.

Besides, I'm sure there are plenty of in-house studios standardized on Mac who would respectfully disagree about being "glad" they haven't been enjoying USB 3.0 for the last year on their Macbook Pros. Just sayin'

Nah. USB isn't a much used professional interface, and that includes USB 3. it's mostly a consumer technology. Professionals mostly use FW for interfaces for devices such as D/A and A/D converters, midi, and other audio and video uses. They use SDI for higher end video, SATA and iSCSI for drives.

USB 3 hasn't garnered much support for good reason. But TB will.
post #93 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

I believe using copper in the initial implementation is a bad idea...because now vendors are going to build a bunch of devices assuming copper...not compatible with future "optical" versions...seems dumb.

Intel said the connectors will remain copper and the new cables will be optical (the will have media converters in the ends like networking equipment does now) the optical cables will not carry power but will offer longer runs. They think they can hit the theoretical 100Gbs with optimized copper technology. It won't change the fact that these computers will forever remain at 10Gbs but the current devices may get a boost when a faster TB bus comes along without having to change their ports.
post #94 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post

How dare Apple adopt a new, unproven technology!

Name one time in which they've succeeded in adopting (or eschewing) a new (or old) technology.

Heed the words of Henry Ford, which I hear is imprinted on a marble slab on the ground in the foyer of Apple HQ: "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse."

Did I miss the </sarcasm> tag?

The first to use a graphical user interface, the first to USB as the main connector, the first to drop the diskette, soon to be the first to drop the optical disk altogether, the first to bring a laptop computer to the mainstream market, the first to bring an integrated computer to market - the list goes on... and on... and on...
post #95 of 161
I like the daisy chaining and power features
Love the fact that it's smaller than USB
It has a definite 'one way only' shape for easy plug in

A lot of good stuff going for this port. FW800 is clumsy as hell and wiggles around in the port. You have to look at it first before you attempt to plug it in. It's huge. We want thin kit.

I hope Thunderbolt fits snug. Ethernet jacks snap in and you never have to worry about loose cables.

This port seems to have a lot of advantages right out of the gate. Looking forward to using insanely fast disk drives in the near future. Most businesses back up daily and extra speed means quicker martinis.
post #96 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

Picture this:

Mac -> hub -> Cinema Display

Now tape the the hub to the back of the Cinema Display and what do you have? Apple could do that internally on the display.

New Cinema Displays wouldn't be DisplayPort devices, but rather Thunderbolt devices, so there's no worry about that restriction.

All of you are not technical I'm guessing because otherwise it would be obviously Apple would set it up so that internally the switching signal to the display would be the last one passed.

Hubs will have to operate this way too, if you have a hub type device that has several TB ports then the one for display will have to be specially marked & will have to be at the end of the line.
post #97 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kidsilentt View Post

when will bestbuy have the new macbook pros in stockk??

Kid... please enable spell check on whatever device you are using to post. There are five spelling or grammatical errors (not including the two "t's" in your nickname) in that very short sentence.

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post #98 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayparry View Post

Good ol Inte.

TYPO in the graphic much?

Don't you just hate when that happens?

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post #99 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Hey, what happened to Intel's press conference about Thunderbolt which was supposed to start at 10 am pacific time?

I'd rather see Thunderbolt in action instead of reading about it. Is nobody streaming it or reporting on it?

Same here
post #100 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

All of you are not technical I'm guessing because otherwise it would be obviously Apple would set it up so that internally the switching signal to the display would be the last one passed.

Hubs will have to operate this way too, if you have a hub type device that has several TB ports then the one for display will have to be specially marked & will have to be at the end of the line.

Intel Has stated that the display will be the last one in the chain. Of course, there will be star topology, tree, and others as well
post #101 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiceWare View Post

Really? I still see a FW800 port on all the new MBPs.

They brought it back after the outcry.
post #102 of 161
Opened Fast Company magazine last night and immediately saw an ad for the HTC Thunderbolt.

Cue the lawyers in 3...2...1.....
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post #103 of 161
Normally I would say "just another dead end from Apple." But, Apple may be large enough now that they can launch interface standards. Having shopped for FW800 (and failed) however, I would encourage Apple to stick with USB until they have a reason to drop it.

Still cool though.
post #104 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Nah. USB isn't a much used professional interface, and that includes USB 3. it's mostly a consumer technology. Professionals mostly use FW for interfaces for devices such as D/A and A/D converters, midi, and other audio and video uses. They use SDI for higher end video, SATA and iSCSI for drives.

USB 3 hasn't garnered much support for good reason. But TB will.

I disagree. No, USB 3.0 probably still isn't appropriate for real time video editing on the fact that it is still packet-based with no p2p capabilities. However, it is certainly useful for offloading large amounts of data between drives and different machines. Loading a 100gb project onto and off of a Macbook Pro through USB 2.0 is a nightmare. Heck, just offloading photos from a camera can be painful if all you have is RAW or H.264 video and the older port.

I'm not saying Thunderbolt isn't useful - I'm very excited by this announcement - I'm just saying that the reason USB 3.0 hasn't garnered much traction in almost two years is due to the fact that Intel has refused to support it. No third parties have been able to license any of Intel's chipset designs since Nehalem back in 2007, which means Intel essentially killed off any incentive to compete at the chipset level until their own technology was ready.

The reason is not because USB 3.0 isn't a decent standard by itself. Blu Ray won over HD-DVD because of marketing factors, not just based on the technology.
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post #105 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Normally I would say "just another dead end from Apple." But, Apple may be large enough now that they can launch interface standards. Having shopped for FW800 (and failed) however, I would encourage Apple to stick with USB until they have a reason to drop it.

Still cool though.

Which part of 'developed by Intel' didn't you understand?
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post #106 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by yuusharo View Post

The reason is not because USB 3.0 isn't a decent standard by itself. Blu Ray won over HD-DVD because of marketing factors, not just based on the technology.

HD DVD had no chance to ever win the battle because the BD group owned 50% plus of the content from day one, thanks in part to the lessons Sony learned from Beta and their subsequent studio and catalog acquisitions. HD-DVD's only hope was a split world where players and drives had dual support and the industry decided that was not going to work.

The analogy here is that consumers will shop for computers that have USB 3 or TB is there are devices they want to use that need those ports. The difference in Intel and the USB group don't control the device market. Device makers will include the ports that the PC makers put on their machines. The industry will move together and it will either snowball or it wont. If PC makers all start shipping TB with their Intel boxes, device makers will flock to it and consumers will demand it on PC's and there will be a circularity that makes the adoption grow pretty quick. Or, if Intel can't convince PC makes to include it, there wont be many devices that use TB and consumers will not give a crap and it will remain a niche product. Personally I think Intel should have the influence to make this snowball, but they have screwed up in the past so who knows.
post #107 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

Which part of 'developed by Intel' didn't you understand?

You mean there is inovation outside of Apple, BS, cant be true, this must be Apple tech!
post #108 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Normally I would say "just another dead end from Apple." But, Apple may be large enough now that they can launch interface standards. Having shopped for FW800 (and failed) however, I would encourage Apple to stick with USB until they have a reason to drop it.

Still cool though.

Right now there's zero reason to drop USB 2.0 support. We all have stuff we plug into our machines, and unless we're willing to replace them all, USB is here to stay.

I'm personally waiting until Intel *finally* supports USB 3.0 and puts it into their chipsets. That would be the perfect Macbook for me - Thunderbolt for all of my I/O and Display devices, and USB 3.0 for my legacy gear and drives.

Besides, I'm not looking forward to a future with only one port on it. I don't want this string of thumb drives dangling off each other.
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post #109 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

They brought it back after the outcry.

That was only a problem on the MacBook. It wasn't removed from any other model.
post #110 of 161
Here's something interesting I just read.

Quote:
The technology only supports 10Gbps for now, but it already has scaling built in, according to Intel. Where a current Thunderbolt link is two lanes, it can work with as many as two lanes in each direction, scaling up to 20Gbps symmetrically or 40Gbps if all traffic flows in one direction.
post #111 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by yuusharo View Post

I disagree. No, USB 3.0 probably still isn't appropriate for real time video editing on the fact that it is still packet-based with no p2p capabilities. However, it is certainly useful for offloading large amounts of data between drives and different machines. Loading a 100gb project onto and off of a Macbook Pro through USB 2.0 is a nightmare. Heck, just offloading photos from a camera can be painful if all you have is RAW or H.264 video and the older port.

I'm not saying Thunderbolt isn't useful - I'm very excited by this announcement - I'm just saying that the reason USB 3.0 hasn't garnered much traction in almost two years is due to the fact that Intel has refused to support it. No third parties have been able to license any of Intel's chipset designs since Nehalem back in 2007, which means Intel essentially killed off any incentive to compete at the chipset level until their own technology was ready.

The reason is not because USB 3.0 isn't a decent standard by itself. Blu Ray won over HD-DVD because of marketing factors, not just based on the technology.

Your statement was about studio use. As far as that goes, USB isn't used much. It has nothing to do with throughput. No one cares about it. It isn't good for audio or video because of timing and jitter errors, and is slower than SATA for drives.
post #112 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

I would have liked to see Intel get more industry players onboard before release. If Dell and HP and ACER and ASUS and other announce support in all or most of their 2011 products it will catch on like wildfire. If they stear clear, so will the add on companies and it will be wind up like firewire 800.

This is the classic chicken/egg problem. If everybody waits till everyone is on board, it'll never happen. It's also a build it and they will come situation.
post #113 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

HD DVD had no chance to ever win the battle because the BD group owned 50% plus of the content from day one, thanks in part to the lessons Sony learned from Beta and their subsequent studio and catalog acquisitions. HD-DVD's only hope was a split world where players and drives had dual support and the industry decided that was not going to work.

The analogy here is that consumers will shop for computers that have USB 3 or TB is there are devices they want to use that need those ports. The difference in Intel and the USB group don't control the device market. Device makers will include the ports that the PC makers put on their machines. The industry will move together and it will either snowball or it wont. If PC makers all start shipping TB with their Intel boxes, device makers will flock to it and consumers will demand it on PC's and there will be a circularity that makes the adoption grow pretty quick. Or, if Intel can't convince PC makes to include it, there wont be many devices that use TB and consumers will not give a crap and it will remain a niche product. Personally I think Intel should have the influence to make this snowball, but they have screwed up in the past so who knows.

Intel said today that Apple will have a year advantage in having this, and that the development kits to other manufacturers will be going out in the spring. They expect other manufacturers to be producing TB computers in early 2012, but that some may arrive somewhat sooner.

The fact that seven manufacturers of products and professional editing systems have already stated that they have products coming out now, or will be shortly is a very good sign.

So far, with USB 3, there's not much other than a few drive cases.

This will become big. It's easy to implement, it doesn't require software drivers, just hardware adapters to every known interface that now exists. As this will get faster over time, faster interfaces of other standards will work. When we get to 100 Gb/s, we'll have plenty of bandwidth.

And who knows, by the time we get to that in nine years, it may be raised further.
post #114 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by yuusharo View Post

Right now there's zero reason to drop USB 2.0 support. We all have stuff we plug into our machines, and unless we're willing to replace them all, USB is here to stay.

I'm personally waiting until Intel *finally* supports USB 3.0 and puts it into their chipsets. That would be the perfect Macbook for me - Thunderbolt for all of my I/O and Display devices, and USB 3.0 for my legacy gear and drives.

Besides, I'm not looking forward to a future with only one port on it. I don't want this string of thumb drives dangling off each other.

Depending on OEM feedback, like what Apple gave them, USB3 may never find a place in Intel's chips. If it does, it may be within the TB port only. I get a very strong feeling that Intel, like Apple, may not want to support so many port types.
post #115 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

HD DVD had no chance to ever win the battle because the BD group owned 50% plus of the content from day one, thanks in part to the lessons Sony learned from Beta and their subsequent studio and catalog acquisitions. HD-DVD's only hope was a split world where players and drives had dual support and the industry decided that was not going to work.

The analogy here is that consumers will shop for computers that have USB 3 or TB is there are devices they want to use that need those ports. The difference in Intel and the USB group don't control the device market. Device makers will include the ports that the PC makers put on their machines. The industry will move together and it will either snowball or it wont. If PC makers all start shipping TB with their Intel boxes, device makers will flock to it and consumers will demand it on PC's and there will be a circularity that makes the adoption grow pretty quick. Or, if Intel can't convince PC makes to include it, there wont be many devices that use TB and consumers will not give a crap and it will remain a niche product. Personally I think Intel should have the influence to make this snowball, but they have screwed up in the past so who knows.

As long as they don't make the controller a proprietary port that prevents AMD and other manufacturers from using this technology, this connector has a shot. People aren't going to want to upgrade their entire motherboard, chipset and processor to add this functionality, when you can buy a USB 3.0 card for about $30.
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post #116 of 161
Am I the only one who finds it odd that Apple and Intel would launch this without a single peripheral on the market that uses it yet? The intel video had a bunch of "coming soon" products in their demos, but didn't mention when they'd be released. Are Lacie/WD/Seagate et al reluctant enough about the tech that they couldn't co-ordinate some sort of launch at the same time?


Apple's cinema displays use it instead of mini display port
post #117 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The latest Sandforce controller supports speeds of over 500MB/s per drive under certain loads. Two would saturate the SATA 6GB/s bus already. But having that and another device in the chain would make this worthwhile. If you use two SATA drives in their own cases, you coils still get to raid them, and will have faster speeds than one raid physically in the same case, using the one SATA port otherwise.

Well, I don't use FW drives any more. Much too slow. If you're going to do this right with TB, you would need a TB case to put that SATA 6GB/s drive into. Every time a better interface comes out, we've got to dump our older stuff, like it or not.

Well, I appreciate the feedback, but for my purpose, eSATA won't work because I have to connect my drives to my Mac Minis that I use as video servers, and while once the drive is populated, I don't really need more than FW400, I move drives around in my house, I back them up etc, etc. I just got done mirroring a 6 Terabyte OWC RAID 0 device that even at FW800 speeds took 48 hours to backup. Given the size of my data sets, I want the best speed possible, so the promise of Lightpeak/Thunderbolt is nifty, but these external drive controllers are a serious limfac, and that once again drives my question. For the guys with Mac Pros and eSATA controller cards, or now Thunderbolt cards I can see the future looks bright, but for external Multi-Terabyte devices with their bridgeboard issues I guess I'll have to wait and see. Again, thanks for the followup comment.
post #118 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

...
Device makers will include the ports that the PC makers put on their machines. The industry will move together and it will either snowball or it wont. If PC makers all start shipping TB with their Intel boxes, device makers will flock to it and consumers will demand it on PC's and there will be a circularity that makes the adoption grow pretty quick. Or, if Intel can't convince PC makes to include it, there wont be many devices that use TB and consumers will not give a crap and it will remain a niche product. Personally I think Intel should have the influence to make this snowball, but they have screwed up in the past so who knows.

Assuming Intel includes it in all of their chipsets and convinces PC makers to include the port, there's one other important factor. How much will it cost to implement it in the other devices? USB is dirt-cheap to include because it's a fairly simple chip compared to a FW controller. So I assume it will be present for the forseeable future. Half of the FW800 drives I have also have eSATA, which I don't have any Macs with that connection.

So, would HD makers add a 4th port to cover their bases? That adds an incremental cost to their units. Or do they drop either FW or eSATA, potentially upsetting customers who don't have TB and therefore must use the USB port? If it costs too much to include TB, they will just continue making FW800 drives and expect the customer to go buy a TB adaptor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Depending on OEM feedback, like what Apple gave them, USB3 may never find a place in Intel's chips. If it does, it may be within the TB port only. I get a very strong feeling that Intel, like Apple, may not want to support so many port types.

I agree. I don't think we'll ever see a built-in USB3 port on a Mac. The closest thing will be a USB3 adaptor for TB. But I do think we'll continue to see USB2 ports for quite some time to come. It's a cheap, mature technology. It could be quite some time, if ever, that a TB controller chip will be cheap enough to include in a thumb drive, and you aren't going to carry around an adaptor all of the time just in case you need to pull files off somebody's thumb drive.
post #119 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Depending on OEM feedback, like what Apple gave them, USB3 may never find a place in Intel's chips. If it does, it may be within the TB port only. I get a very strong feeling that Intel, like Apple, may not want to support so many port types.


I guess that is my beef. If Apple/Intel's new baby fails to get wide support (which is very possible) then we will be stuck with USB2 until its slow speed becomes a major major headache.

FW800 adoption is pathetically small. Thunderbolt offers... another attempt, followed by another years long wait, potentially resulting in nothing but USB 2.
post #120 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by martimus3060 View Post

Well, I appreciate the feedback, but for my purpose, eSATA won't work because I have to connect my drives to my Mac Minis that I use as video servers, and while once the drive is populated, I don't really need more than FW400, I move drives around in my house, I back them up etc, etc. I just got done mirroring a 6 Terabyte OWC RAID 0 device that even at FW800 speeds took 48 hours to backup. Given the size of my data sets, I want the best speed possible, so the promise of Lightpeak/Thunderbolt is nifty, but these external drive controllers are a serious limfac, and that once again drives my question. For the guys with Mac Pros and eSATA controller cards, or now Thunderbolt cards I can see the future looks bright, but for external Multi-Terabyte devices with their bridgeboard issues I guess I'll have to wait and see. Again, thanks for the followup comment.

Well, with all due respect, we are talking about Thunderbolt, not machines that don't use it. If you upgrade at some point to a new Mini with a TB port, then you will have to do what I suggested in order to get the higher speeds. It should that Apple will adopt this port for every new computer upgrade from now on. It makes no sense that they would not do so.

A TB drive case would allow you to remove the SATa drives from your FW cases and immediately gain more speed. The cost would be new RAID cases. No pain no gain, as they say. But it wouldn't be too bad. If you've got SATA 3 6Gb/s drives now, you would see a fourfold improvement in speed, easily, in a RAID TB case. Even for 3Gb/s drives, the increase would be double.
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