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

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  • Reply 101 of 161
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,807member
    Opened Fast Company magazine last night and immediately saw an ad for the HTC Thunderbolt.



    Cue the lawyers in 3...2...1.....
  • Reply 102 of 161
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    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.
  • Reply 103 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.
  • Reply 104 of 161
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,807member
    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?
  • Reply 105 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.
  • Reply 106 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!
  • Reply 107 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.
  • Reply 108 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.
  • Reply 109 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.



  • Reply 110 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.
  • Reply 111 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.
  • Reply 112 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.
  • Reply 113 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.
  • Reply 114 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.
  • Reply 115 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
  • Reply 116 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.
  • Reply 117 of 161
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    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.
  • Reply 118 of 161
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    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.
  • Reply 119 of 161
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,981member
    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.
  • Reply 120 of 161
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bwik View Post


    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.



    Anybody want to take bets on how quickly Monoprice gets out a full line of TB adaptors, including one for USB3?



    I know adaptors aren't ideal, but if massive throughput is your main concern get two of them and you'll have twice the throughput for multiple devices than you'd get by Apple including USB3 ports on Macs.
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