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Intel's grip on Thunderbolt keeps accessories off the market

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
While Apple has integrated Intel's Thunderbolt connection standard in every model of Mac the company has introduced since 2011, the technology has yet to truly take off in the computer industry, and one report says it is languishing due to Intel's tight controls over the standard.

Thunderbolt


Update: Intel contacted AppleInsider to express the chipmaker's reservations with the information presented in DigiTimes' report. The company's response to the report is detailed in this feature piece.

Apple brought Thunderbolt to the Mac shortly after Intel officially introduced the technology, which the two companies developed in collaboration. Thunderbolt allowed for speeds 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and twice as fast as USB 3.0, as well as the ability to daisy-chain multiple devices without using a hub.

Apple secured an exclusive license on the technology shortly following its unveiling. Even when that license expired, though, other PC manufacturers didn't begin to adopt the standard en masse.

Additionally, the number of peripherals supporting the standard has been well below what some expected given its specifications. A research note from DigiTimes points the finger at Intel's unwillingness so far to license the technology behind Thunderbolt to other parties, a factor that keeps the cost of Thunderbolt high and wider adoption low.

Intel, according to the report, uses independent packaging for Thunderbolt chips, and the chipmaker maintains a tight grip on the technology. The specialized chips Intel places near Thunderbolt configurators are proprietary designs, meaning that Intel can maintain control over the pricing on Thunderbolt cables.

A four-channel Thunderbolt chip component has a wholesale price of $35, while a two-meter Thunderbolt cable has a recommended retail price of $39. These price points are keeping some smaller manufacturers from entering the Thunderbolt device segment, leaving it largely to established players.

Other chipmakers, including ASMedia, are trying to convince Intel to license the silicon intellectual property rights related to Thunderbolt. Licensing the technology, they argue, would allow other companies to make smaller-sized and cheaper peripherals. Intel has yet to respond publicly to such requests.
post #2 of 54
I think the expense keeps devices and consumers way as well. It may be fast, but its also expensive. If I remember correctly FireWire was the same way with both devices and price when it first came about and has sense gotten cheaper. I'd like to think there will be more devices in the future as its a great technology.
post #3 of 54

This is, indeed, what held FireWire back. It might be too late to fix it by now, too; Apple eventually let go of some of its grip on FireWire and made it more attractive to peripheral makers, but by that time USB 2.0 had come out and was "good enough." Now, USB 3.0 is out and is "good enough," and Thunderbolt doesn't even have the depth of support that FireWire had in its early days. Thunderbolt is, sadly, probably DOA at this point.

 

It's so frustrating to see people repeat the mistakes of the past.

post #4 of 54
Licensing the silicon IP rights would be a bad idea. What's needed here is simply lower licensing fees and chip prices.

Since intel is doing poorly lately, I would suspect that what's happening here is that they are pricing the chips so as to recoup what they feel is their "investment" in developing the technology. Basically keeping the price high to make their books look good and to pay for research that probably isn't even related at all.

R&D costs however are the biggest boondoggle that ever existed and can easily be quoted to be anything from nothing at all to 90% of the cost of the chip. Most modern thinking on this says that R&D costs should actually *never* be added into product cost but rather absorbed by the company as basic operating costs.
post #5 of 54
It's meant more for the Professional market, at least that's what the majority of the devices on the market are geared towards.

There are PCI expansion boxes that are kind of expensive but geared towards the professionals.

The external hard drives are pretty much RAID systems which are geared for professionals.

There are boxes like Universal Audio which is geared towards the Professional market.

Then there are these new Belkin docking boxes, which are more expensive than a typical USB hub, but much more functional.

Apple was smart in integrating this technology and so far it gives Apple a differentiator that makes a difference for the professional markets, Apple just needs to squeeze out a MacPro that's Thunderbolt equipped as fast as possible to keep their high end tower workstation market.
post #6 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

It's meant more for the Professional market, at least that's what the majority of the devices on the market are geared towards.

 

FireWire ended up with a following in the professional market, too, and a much more widespread one than Thunderbolt now has, but I think we all agree that it could have done far better.

post #7 of 54

Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire. The accessories are too expensive. USB3 is all I care about now.

post #8 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire. The accessories are too expensive. USB3 is all I care about now.

So you'd rather have an Apple display that uses USB3.0 to get all the display data plus all the other data instead of Thunderbolt? Protocol independence with a 40Gb/s aggregate in 2014's Falcon Ridge opens the door to a lot of things USB 3.0 can't do.
Edited by SolipsismX - 5/28/13 at 9:53am

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post #9 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire. The accessories are too expensive. USB3 is all I care about now.

Funny, this guy thinks he knows what's going on.

Thunderbolt on my MBA alongside my LED monitor is an awesome combo. Target-mode via Thunderbolt can't be matched, and better things to come.

Maybe you should try using it before trashing it. When USB3 is outdated, TB will still be there, using the same port and be more future-proof than USB. USB in itself is necessary, but TB will always be one-level above it. It's not CPU intensive like USB is. Of course, you already knew that right?
post #10 of 54
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post
Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire.

 

So: not in the slightest. Got it.

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post #11 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

...TB will still be there, using the same port and be more future-proof than USB.

Speaking of the same port, it uses the same mDP so it doesn't require an additional port to be included, unlike FireWire, which was obvious different from what you use to attach a display. It's a win-win.

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post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

So you'd rather have an Apple display that uses USB3.0 to get all the display data plus all the other data instead of Thunderbolt? Protocol independence with a 40Gb/s aggregate in 2014's Falcon Ridge opens the door to a lot of things USB 3.0 can't do.

...and we'll be able to use that speed and extra functionality so well with the Macs we bought in the three years prior to the new controller's release.
post #13 of 54
What's the point of a standard if devices are too expensive for people to afford them?
post #14 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


So you'd rather have an Apple display that uses USB3.0 to get all the display data plus all the other data instead of Thunderbolt? Protocol independence with a 40Gb/s aggregate in 2014's Falcon Ridge opens the door to a lot of things USB 3.0 can't do.

 

Are any of these particularly significant for the mass market though?

 

Genuine question, no prejudice, I don't know the answer.

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post #15 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post

...and we'll be able to use that speed and extra functionality so well with the Macs we bought in the three years prior to the new controller's release.

I specifically mentioned Falcon Ridge so why the hell would you complain about a Mac in 2011 not having functionality that won't be arriving until 2014?

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post #16 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post


...and we'll be able to use that speed and extra functionality so well with the Macs we bought in the three years prior to the new controller's release.


Great... this guy's back..

Do have any clue what the current TB setup does now??  There's barely anything out there (affordability-wise) than can saturate it already, let alone what will be available in three years.  Are you even remotely serious with your comment?

post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

R&D costs however are the biggest boondoggle that ever existed and can easily be quoted to be anything from nothing at all to 90% of the cost of the chip. Most modern thinking on this says that R&D costs should actually *never* be added into product cost but rather absorbed by the company as basic operating costs.

Where do I find examples of this alleged modern thinking? If those costs aren't reflected in the product price, exactly how are those expenses recovered? If those expenses aren't recovered, then what is the incentive to advance technology?

Mind you, I'm not happy with the progress of TB devices, I don't think costing is the problem as pretty much any other product is expensed this way.
post #18 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

 

Are any of these particularly significant for the mass market though?

 

Genuine question, no prejudice, I don't know the answer.


I agree that Intel needs to get its head out of its backside and start pushing TB.  I also think that Intel/Apple is setting up TB for the long haul.

Now, as far as specs go, they are great for those that focus merely on specs and nothing else... For the mass market though, I look at TB more as a general-purpose high-speed dataport.  I think we still need more time for the market to figure out how to best utilize it.  Apple is doing a great job with it.  The PC folks thought with their razor-thin operating margins though is something else.

Outside of my LED monitor, my only TB accessories to-date is a TB->Ethernet and a male-to-male TB cable for doing target mode.  It's a great way to transfer large files between to machines.  I like that my ethernet adapter can do full gigabit speeds compared to my old USB->Ethernet adapter.  I'm sold on the tech, it just needs to be adopted by more people.

post #19 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I specifically mentioned Falcon Ridge so why the hell would you complain about a Mac in 2011 not having functionality that won't be arriving until 2014?

Because the effect of what you say it to tell everyone to hold off purchasing computers until next year. So what incentive do hardware vendors have for investing in Thunderbolt today? If you get into a perpetual cycle of "wait till next year", you don't get buyers now, and hardware vendors don't invest in making Thunderbolt peripherals, so you don't get buyers, so vendors don't invest, etc.

The article is talking about the fact that Thunderbolt "has yet to truly take off in the computer industry". We're talking mass adoption of Thunderbolt, not niche markets. 40Gps peripherals are not mass market right now, and won't be in 12 months. Please suggest/offer something realistic/tactical for driving Thunderbolt adoption today. We already know it know it is technically superior. So was Betamax.
post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


Where do I find examples of this alleged modern thinking? If those costs aren't reflected in the product price, exactly how are those expenses recovered? If those expenses aren't recovered, then what is the incentive to advance technology?

Mind you, I'm not happy with the progress of TB devices, I don't think costing is the problem as pretty much any other product is expensed this way.

 

I don't have any sources for you but the idea is that since you can't really relate generalised R&D costs to a specific product, that the companies are basically just spit-balling a large amount of money that they hope to claw back.  For instance, they might have R&D costs for years for many projects that lead to no specific products, and then the one time they have a product to sell, they try and recoup all those losses by inflating the cost of the one product that's selling.  There are no controls, nobody watching, and no set rules on how to recoup such R&D "losses" therefore, capitalism being what it is, there is nothing to stop some company from claiming that there is a 40% R&D recoup on some product basically forever.  

post #21 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


Great... this guy's back..


Do have any clue what the current TB setup does now??  There's barely anything out there (affordability-wise) than can saturate it already, let alone what will be available in three years.  Are you even remotely serious with your comment?

Did you even read Soli's comment about next year's Falcon Ridge chipset? Like you said, there's barely anything out there and he wants us to wait for next year's chipset. I was talking about the Macs we buy today not being able to use the new speed and functionality of the new chipset.
post #22 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post

Did you even read Soli's comment about next year's Falcon Ridge chipset? Like you said, there's barely anything out there and he wants us to wait for next year's chipset. I was talking about the Macs we buy today not being able to use the new speed and functionality of the new chipset.

1) Did you ever read what I wrote? My comment about Falcon Ridge was regarding the speed at which TB is moving in relation to USB, it had nothing to do with TB not being viable now with 20Gb/s combined, protocol independence and being a great solution for those that have a Mac notebook that want a simple solution to an external monitor.

2) Again, why the **** would you think that a chipset not available until next year would be a solution for Macs today? This isn't something you just plug into a PC. It's built into the fucking board.

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post #23 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I don't have any sources for you but the idea is that since you can't really relate generalised R&D costs to a specific product, that the companies are basically just spit-balling a large amount of money that they hope to claw back.  For instance, they might have R&D costs for years for many projects that lead to no specific products, and then the one time they have a product to sell, they try and recoup all those losses by inflating the cost of the one product that's selling.  There are no controls, nobody watching, and no set rules on how to recoup such R&D "losses" therefore, capitalism being what it is, there is nothing to stop some company from claiming that there is a 40% R&D recoup on some product basically forever.

I don't know if there need to be controls for that. If manufacturers price themselves out of the market, that's on them. I think this technology roll-out was poorly managed, but I don't think the expensing is significant part of the problem, assuming it is a problem.
Edited by JeffDM - 5/28/13 at 11:02am
post #24 of 54
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

These price points are keeping some smaller manufacturers from entering the Thunderbolt device segment, leaving it largely to established players.

 

Smells like collusion with Monster Cable.

Just sayin'.

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post #25 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire. The accessories are too expensive. USB3 is all I care about now.

FireWire was de facto standard on DV and HDV camcorders. It was also standard on early iPods, back in the day when USB was choking on 12Mbps.

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post #26 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by runbuh View Post


Did you even read Soli's comment about next year's Falcon Ridge chipset? Like you said, there's barely anything out there and he wants us to wait for next year's chipset. I was talking about the Macs we buy today not being able to use the new speed and functionality of the new chipset.


<* would answer but my IQ would drop *>
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


1) Did you ever read what I wrote? My comment about Falcon Ridge was regarding the speed at which TB is moving in relation to USB, it had nothing to do with TB not being viable now with 20Gb/s combined, protocol independence and being a great solution for those that have a Mac notebook that want a simple solution to an external monitor.

2) Again, why the **** would you think that a chipset not available until next year would be a solution for Macs today? This isn't something you just plug into a PC. It's built into the fucking board.


Solips... just let it go.  Me no theenk he can kuhmpyoot.  :)

post #27 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

1) Did you ever read what I wrote? My comment about Falcon Ridge was regarding the speed at which TB is moving in relation to USB, it had nothing to do with TB not being viable now with 20Gb/s combined, protocol independence and being a great solution for those that have a Mac notebook that want a simple solution to an external monitor.

2) Again, why the **** would you think that a chipset not available until next year would be a solution for Macs today? This isn't something you just plug into a PC. It's built into the fucking board.

I thought this discussion was related to the article, but you are branching into the technical superiority of a chipset coming out next year. In what way is that relevant to the article? Will the new chipset help drive widespread production and adoption of Thunderbolt peripherals?
post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Solips... just let it go.  Me no theenk he can kuhmpyoot.  1smile.gif

Yeah, no idea what going on with him.

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post #29 of 54

Thunderbolt has a bright development roadmap with improvements that will take its already superior performance way ahead.

 

But that's for the future, doesn't really help with vendor adoption for the present, and doesn't offer much to the user who buys a current Mac.

 

Does that cover both viewpoints?  No need for arguments here, you're both on the same page, just one of you is a little further down.

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post #30 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

... and doesn't offer much to the user who buys a current Mac.

WTF?! If having a Mac notebook and an Apple display that doesn't offer you much then what the hell are your expectations? They're certainly not realistic if you don't think that's a better solution than what was available in years past.

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post #31 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Licensing the silicon IP rights would be a bad idea. What's needed here is simply lower licensing fees and chip prices.

Since intel is doing poorly lately, I would suspect that what's happening here is that they are pricing the chips so as to recoup what they feel is their "investment" in developing the technology. Basically keeping the price high to make their books look good and to pay for research that probably isn't even related at all.

R&D costs however are the biggest boondoggle that ever existed and can easily be quoted to be anything from nothing at all to 90% of the cost of the chip. Most modern thinking on this says that R&D costs should actually *never* be added into product cost but rather absorbed by the company as basic operating costs.

"absorbed by the company as basic operating costs." ---> and if that's never adde to prouct cost, it is paid for by... whom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


Funny, this guy thinks he knows what's going on.

Thunderbolt on my MBA alongside my LED monitor is an awesome combo. Target-mode via Thunderbolt can't be matched, and better things to come.

Maybe you should try using it before trashing it. When USB3 is outdated, TB will still be there, using the same port and be more future-proof than USB. USB in itself is necessary, but TB will always be one-level above it. It's not CPU intensive like USB is. Of course, you already knew that right?

Yeah, very true. Apple is known to never outdate anything and always provide technologies they provided at one point. They also always do what they said they would (hi, Open Facetime...). Oh, wait.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

I don't have any sources for you but the idea is that since you can't really relate generalised R&D costs to a specific product, that the companies are basically just spit-balling a large amount of money that they hope to claw back.  For instance, they might have R&D costs for years for many projects that lead to no specific products, and then the one time they have a product to sell, they try and recoup all those losses by inflating the cost of the one product that's selling.  There are no controls, nobody watching, and no set rules on how to recoup such R&D "losses" therefore, capitalism being what it is, there is nothing to stop some company from claiming that there is a 40% R&D recoup on some product basically forever.  

 

It's not how you price a product, you know? You price a product based on "how much can I at most demand". Or you're not doing a good job :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durandal1707 View Post

This is, indeed, what held FireWire back. It might be too late to fix it by now, too; Apple eventually let go of some of its grip on FireWire and made it more attractive to peripheral makers, but by that time USB 2.0 had come out and was "good enough." Now, USB 3.0 is out and is "good enough," and Thunderbolt doesn't even have the depth of support that FireWire had in its early days. Thunderbolt is, sadly, probably DOA at this point.

 

It's so frustrating to see people repeat the mistakes of the past.


Ah, we Internet Experts. Why don't we make a corporation together, surely we'll buy Apple and Google and Intel by the end of the week!

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post #32 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

WTF?! If having a Mac notebook and an Apple display that doesn't offer you much then what the hell are your expectations? They're certainly not realistic if you don't think that's a better solution than what was available in years past.
You misunderstand me. Future improvements to the Thunderbolt protocol do not offer much to people looking to buy a Mac in the here and now. A promise of 40Gbps throughput in a future chipset offers no advantage in and of itself to a Mac on the shelf today.

And with that I withdraw. I tried to play peacemaker, but it seems like peace is not on the agenda in this place right now.

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post #33 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Thunderbolt is a failure just like Firewire. The accessories are too expensive. USB3 is all I care about now.

 

 

You weren't using Macs in the late '90s or 2000's right up until a few years ago then.  Firewire is/was a great success for the length of it's run, which was not insignificant.   And still works great on Macs without USB3, which number many in use.

post #34 of 54
So basically, intel is doing to Thunderbolt what Apple is doing to Lightening.
post #35 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

You misunderstand me. Future improvements to the Thunderbolt protocol do not offer much to people looking to buy a Mac in the here and now. A promise of 40Gbps throughput in a future chipset offers no advantage in and of itself to a Mac on the shelf today.

And with that I withdraw. I tried to play peacemaker, but it seems like peace is not on the agenda in this place right now.

It does matter, in that what you buy today should still be usable years from now, given backward compatibility. If Intel wasn't developing the next version, then that would be a warning sign that the connector is going away. Faster devices should work with slower versions of the connector too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

So basically, intel is doing to Thunderbolt what Apple is doing to Lightening.

I'm sure there's a greater variety of Lightning connector devices than TB.
post #36 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

So basically, intel is doing to Thunderbolt what Apple is doing to Lightening.

You have to be Teckstud. 1oyvey.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I'm sure there's a greater variety of Lightning connector devices than TB.

That appears to be axiomatically wrong. There is the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Even if you break that up between model numbers you still have all the different PC models and vendors as well as all the peripheral options, and that's without considering monitors with Display Port inputs in them. It's not nearly as diverse as USB but it was never going to be as USB can be used by flash drives, keyboard and mice, which is something TB was never going to address.

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post #37 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

That appears to be axiomatically wrong. There is the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Even if you break that up between model numbers you still have all the different PC models and vendors as well as all the peripheral options, and that's without considering monitors with Display Port inputs in them. It's not nearly as diverse as USB but it was never going to be as USB can be used by flash drives, keyboard and mice, which is something TB was never going to address.

I meant accessories. Even so, I bet there are a lot more Lightening iOS devices are sold than Macs.
post #38 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Accessories?

I'm not sure what you mean. I tend to use the term peripherals to define electronics that are attached to a personal computer but accessory (or even attachment) isn't incorrect.

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post #39 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It does matter, in that what you buy today should still be usable years from now, given backward compatibility. If Intel wasn't developing the next version, then that would be a warning sign that the connector is going away. Faster devices should work with slower versions of the connector too.
That's true enough, but it's hardly an advantage that Thunderbolt has over USB3. Even if Thunderbolt's installed base and variety of peripherals explodes it's hard to imagine USB going away in the short to medium term.

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post #40 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

That's true enough, but it's hardly an advantage that Thunderbolt has over USB3. Even if Thunderbolt's installed base and variety of peripherals explodes it's hard to imagine USB going away in the short to medium term.

Why would you imagine it at all? Are you under the erroneous presumption that Intel is trying to replace USB, which it includes in their chipsets, with Thunderbolt?

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