Intel will support USB 3.0 alongside 'complimentary' Thunderbolt

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Intel and Apple's newly introduced high-speed Thunderbolt port won't be a direct competitor of the USB 3.0 standard. Rather, the two will be "complementary" to one another, Intel believes.



Intel announced this week that it will ship silicon that will support both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt in 2012. According to CNet, Kirk Skaugen, vice president at Intel's Architecture Group, said he believes the two technologies are "complementary."



Support for both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will appear in Intel's next-generation chips, code-named "Ivy Bridge." Ivy Bridge is the successor to the "Sandy Bridge" processors that began shipping earlier this year.



Both Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt debuted on Apple hardware with the new lineup of MacBook Pros that went on sale in February. The new Thunderbolt port, co-developed by Intel and Apple, features two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to 10Gbps each.



Formerly code-named "Light Peak," Thunderbolt's data transfer speeds are 20 times faster than the current, widely available USB 2.0 specification. Thunderbolt is also twice as fast as the not-yet-widesread USB 3.0 spec.







Despite the slower performance of USB 3.0, Intel has reportedly encouraged developers to support both the Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 standards with any external peripherals. Intel's 2012 Ivy Bridge chipsets will include support for USB .30 directly on the chip, which means USB support will be available on all machines, including laptops.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    While it certainly makes sense for Intel to support both, I just can't see that USB 3.0 has any value. Since there are no existing USB 3.0 devices, anyone creating a new product has to decide between USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Why not pick the faster, daisy-chainable technology?



    USB 3 has the advantage of operating older (USB 2.0) devices, but so would a USB 2.0 port.



    From a computer manufacturer's perspective, until this announcement, they could have had USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Now they can have USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Sure, they'll do it because it's the same number of ports, so why not use the faster one, but there's really no advantage unless there are a lot of USB 3 devices out there.



    From a device manufacturer's perspective, Thunderbolt is superior. So if you're making a new device, USB 3.0 doesn't make much sense - so I don't expect to see a lot of USB 3 devices. The ONLY thing that could save USB 3 from a device manufacturer's perspective is if a USB 3 device would work when connected to an older computer with a USB 2.0 port, but I don't think that will work.
  • Reply 2 of 65
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,055member
    Intel dragged its feet so long that the way things are going, AMD will be first to support it in chipsets. Their main rival. Adopting their own tech before they do. Oi, Intel.
  • Reply 3 of 65
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    The ONLY thing that could save USB 3 from a device manufacturer's perspective is if a USB 3 device would work when connected to an older computer with a USB 2.0 port, but I don't think that will work.



    Ah, but it does work. There are a few USB 3.0 hard drives out there (maybe more than a few; certainly more than none) and they advertise their backwards compatibility for use on USB 2.0 machines. Since USB 1, 2 and 3 all use the same port (unlike Firewire 400 and 800), there is no reason for manufacturers (of computers and peripherals) to switch to 3.0 except for cost. I expect the cost difference (if there is one) to disappear quickly as everyone switches over. USB 2.0 will be history shortly.
  • Reply 4 of 65
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    I think it depends on which side of the peripheral divide we are looking at. From a systems manufacturers point of view, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to choose USB3 over Thunderbolt, since TB will effectively give them USB3 through adapters. They could certainly have both, but if they had to choose one, my bet would be on TB, assuming the cost is not substantially higher.



    But for the device manufacturers, it is a different story. Adding multiple ports on a single device is less common than single port devices. In that case, when choosing between TB and USB3, if they had to choose, I would guess they would opt for USB3. They could do two identical devices, one with TB and one with USB3, but that adds to costs, inventory management, etc. The choice for a single standard would seem to be the opposite reasoning than the systems manufacturers. If the device people had to choose one over the other, then USB3 would seem to make more sense. It will work with TB systems through adapters, whereas a device with a native TB port might not work with a USB3 system port (or would it?).
  • Reply 5 of 65
    exscapeexscape Posts: 27member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    While it certainly makes sense for Intel to support both, I just can't see that USB 3.0 has any value. Since there are no existing USB 3.0 devices, [...]



    What? There are TONS of USB 3.0 devices on the market. Especially external hard disks.
  • Reply 6 of 65
    joebjoeb Posts: 29member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    While it certainly makes sense for Intel to support both, I just can't see that USB 3.0 has any value. Since there are no existing USB 3.0 devices, anyone creating a new product has to decide between USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Why not pick the faster, daisy-chainable technology?



    USB 3 has the advantage of operating older (USB 2.0) devices, but so would a USB 2.0 port.



    From a computer manufacturer's perspective, until this announcement, they could have had USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Now they can have USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Sure, they'll do it because it's the same number of ports, so why not use the faster one, but there's really no advantage unless there are a lot of USB 3 devices out there.



    From a device manufacturer's perspective, Thunderbolt is superior. So if you're making a new device, USB 3.0 doesn't make much sense - so I don't expect to see a lot of USB 3 devices. The ONLY thing that could save USB 3 from a device manufacturer's perspective is if a USB 3 device would work when connected to an older computer with a USB 2.0 port, but I don't think that will work.



    but there are usb 3.0 add in cards but no Thunderbolt add in cards. Also how will pci-e video card tie in to the TB bus? Will there be data only TB ports? without the DP part?
  • Reply 7 of 65
    Why do I get the feeling Thunderbolt is going to be another Firewire? Everybody's going to go USB3.
  • Reply 8 of 65
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by malax View Post


    Ah, but it does work. There are a few USB 3.0 hard drives out there (maybe more than a few; certainly more than none) and they advertise their backwards compatibility for use on USB 2.0 machines. Since USB 1, 2 and 3 all use the same port (unlike Firewire 400 and 800), there is no reason for manufacturers (of computers and peripherals) to switch to 3.0 except for cost. I expect the cost difference (if there is one) to disappear quickly as everyone switches over. USB 2.0 will be history shortly.



    Where have you been able to find a USB 3 port that accepts USB 1/2 without an adapter? In this regard USB 3 has no advantage over Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt has the advantage in that with the proper adapters, it provides access to everything from USB 1 through Ethernet through FireWire to MiniDisplayPort.
  • Reply 9 of 65
    rufworkrufwork Posts: 129member
    All this chip bloat makes me suspicious that AMD vs. Intel isn't quite creating the competitive, fairly balanced market you'd want it to see.
  • Reply 10 of 65
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    Where have you been able to find a USB 3 port that accepts USB 1/2 without an adapter? In this regard USB 3 has no advantage over Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt has the advantage in that with the proper adapters, it provides access to everything from USB 1 through Ethernet through FireWire to MiniDisplayPort.



    An adapter?

    USB 3.0 is the same size port as USB 1 and 2. USB 3.0, just like 2.0 was, is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (and 1.0), so the same port can work for both.
  • Reply 11 of 65
    zorinlynxzorinlynx Posts: 169member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Since there are no existing USB 3.0 devices,



    I guess that disk drive I held in my hands the other day was my imagination. I must have been drunk or stoned or something, and merely imagined that it said "SuperSpeed USB" on it, had the bigger micro-USB port and the USB 3.0 plug on the end of it.



    USB 3.0 devices DO exist. Hopefully now that Intel is supporting it natively in their chipsets, we'll soon see Macs with USB 3.0 support. I remember how long it took Macs to get USB 2.0 support (they wanted to force everyone to use Firewire, then finally woke up), same thing is happening with 3.0. *grumble*
  • Reply 12 of 65
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,826member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    While it certainly makes sense for Intel to support both, I just can't see that USB 3.0 has any value. Since there are no existing USB 3.0 devices, anyone creating a new product has to decide between USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Why not pick the faster, daisy-chainable technology?



    There are plenty of USB 3 devices out there.



    However that really has no weight in this discussion. The ports are vastly different and i doubt we will see much overlap.

    Quote:

    USB 3 has the advantage of operating older (USB 2.0) devices, but so would a USB 2.0 port.



    From a computer manufacturer's perspective, until this announcement, they could have had USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Now they can have USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt on their system. Sure, they'll do it because it's the same number of ports, so why not use the faster one, but there's really no advantage unless there are a lot of USB 3 devices out there.



    Believe it or not some of the world runs on 9600 baud still.

    Quote:

    From a device manufacturer's perspective, Thunderbolt is superior. So if you're making a new device, USB 3.0 doesn't make much sense - so I don't expect to see a lot of USB 3 devices. The ONLY thing that could save USB 3 from a device manufacturer's perspective is if a USB 3 device would work when connected to an older computer with a USB 2.0 port, but I don't think that will work.



    It doesn't matter. The two port standards are so vastly different you will see very little usage overlap
  • Reply 13 of 65
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    Correct. Physically there's no difference in a USB 1, 2 or 3 port other than the color. Blue is supposed to denote USB3. In my opinion that's a huge advantage for for both manufacturers and consumers while in the midst of a changeover. USB3 connections will work on older systems, albeit at lower transfer speeds. No need for manufacturers to create another port.



    Personally I'm no fan of Apple's policy of inventing new cable arrays. I think sometimes it's only intended to make sure you have deal with Apple (and their Apple Tax on cables) to connect your new peripherals.
  • Reply 14 of 65
    rhyderhyde Posts: 294member
    Doomed! I say.
  • Reply 15 of 65
    twelvetwelve Posts: 49member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    While it certainly makes sense for Intel to support both, I just can't see that USB 3.0 has any value.



    1. For any device with a high signaling speed, like Thunderbolt, there is significant cost and power draw attached. Thunderbolt support will easily add $5 to a device. If it's a $100 device, it's worth it. If it's a $10 memory stick, what's the point?

    2. There's absolutely no reason to do a Thunderbolt keyboard or mouse.

    3. Since a Thunderbolt takes up 4 PCI-E lanes on the chipset, you won't see many systems, and especially not laptops, that have more than one Thunderbolt port. Having 6 or more USB ports on a system is commonplace.

    4. Since USB 3.0 is fully backward compatible with USB 1.x and 2.x devices, consumers won't need to replace all their USB devices.

    5. Since the CPU overhead for Thunderbolt is much lower than any USB variant, high throughput devices (e.g. video, high-end storage, audio) will tend to use Thunderbolt.

    6. Daisy-chaining requires more cables and a bit more user sophistication than "just plug it in." Remember that you'll generally want your monitor at the END of the Thunderbolt cable. If you need to plug in a memory stick (which would now need two connectors instead of one), would you really want to disconnect your monitor and, possibly, your storage devices, just to plug it in?



    In summary, I don't believe anyone is thinking of this properly. Thunderbolt is more of a single-cable laptop dock connector, and an external PCI-E connector for desktop/server systems. USB3 is better for low-speed, cheap devices that will be inserted and removed regularly.
  • Reply 16 of 65
    cmf2cmf2 Posts: 1,427member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Correct. Physically there's no difference in a USB 1, 2 or 3 port other than the color. Blue is supposed to denote USB3. In my opinion that's a huge advantage for for both manufacturers and consumers while in the midst of a changeover. USB3 connections will work on older systems, albeit at lower transfer speeds. No need for manufacturers to create another port.



    Personally I'm no fan of Apple's policy of inventing new cable arrays. I think sometimes it's only intended to make sure you have deal with Apple (and their Apple Tax on cables) to connect your new peripherals.



    Too bad this is a standard created by Intel, will be included in their IvyBridge chipsets, and uses a royalty free port.



    Never let facts get in the way of a good Apple bashing.



    Thunderbolt is a combination of two existing standards (PCIe and DP) and isn't even a direct competitor with USB 3.0.



    TB was never intended to replace USB keyboards, mice and thumb drives. It's there to provide a high speed, multi protocol link over a single wire. It's there to allow for docking stations (DP, HDMI, USB 3.0, eSata, Ethernet, audio, etc) connected through a single cable, external video cards, high speed access to RAID arrays, or anything else that would benefit from external access to the PCIe bus. The only area that USB and TB really compete in is external hard drives, and manufacturers can (gasp) include both ports if they so choose.



    @Twelve: Nice first post.
  • Reply 17 of 65
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,732member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post


    Too bad this is a standard created by Intel, will be included in their IvyBridge chipsets, and uses a royalty free port.



    Never let facts get in the way of a good Apple bashing.



    Thunderbolt is a combination of two existing standards (PCIe and DP) and isn't even a direct competitor with USB 3.0.



    Thanks for pointing out the inference that Thunderbolt was an Apple development in my post. That wasn't my intent, as I was actually only mentioning that Apple has a penchant for proprietary connectors, which oftentimes appears to be for marketing purposes only.



    Thanks for making things clearer.
  • Reply 18 of 65
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Nevermind - name collision!
  • Reply 19 of 65
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post


    Why do I get the feeling Thunderbolt is going to be another Firewire? Everybody's going to go USB3.



    I don?t see it. FireWire hindered itself from excessive licensing compared to USB as well as being fully supported by Intel, the original inventors. Now we have a situation where the Thunderbolt port interface has no licensing costs and is fully supported by Intel, who have been delaying the inclusion of USB3.0, perhaps to give TB a better chance.



    Then there is the Apple factor. The number of people supporting Macs compared to when the first FireWire iPod arrived is vastly different. If Apple gets TB support in their iDevices then I think PC vendors will rush to support TB in order to compete better with Macs.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Personally I'm no fan of Apple's policy of inventing new cable arrays. I think sometimes it's only intended to make sure you have deal with Apple (and their Apple Tax on cables) to connect your new peripherals.



    Can you expound on that? I don?t see why Apple would go through all this R&D just so you buy a cable from them. There are very real benefits to their decisions, not to mention making mini-DisplayPort port interface free of charge. It seems clear to me they made DisplayPort smaller to accommodate their svelte machines.



    Plenty of 3rd-party options?
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Twelve View Post


    1. For any device with a high signaling speed, like Thunderbolt, there is significant cost and power draw attached. Thunderbolt support will easily add $5 to a device. If it's a $100 device, it's worth it. If it's a $10 memory stick, what's the point?

    2. There's absolutely no reason to do a Thunderbolt keyboard or mouse.

    3. Since a Thunderbolt takes up 4 PCI-E lanes on the chipset, you won't see many systems, and especially not laptops, that have more than one Thunderbolt port. Having 6 or more USB ports on a system is commonplace.

    4. Since USB 3.0 is fully backward compatible with USB 1.x and 2.x devices, consumers won't need to replace all their USB devices.

    5. Since the CPU overhead for Thunderbolt is much lower than any USB variant, high throughput devices (e.g. video, high-end storage, audio) will tend to use Thunderbolt.

    6. Daisy-chaining requires more cables and a bit more user sophistication than "just plug it in." Remember that you'll generally want your monitor at the END of the Thunderbolt cable. If you need to plug in a memory stick (which would now need two connectors instead of one), would you really want to disconnect your monitor and, possibly, your storage devices, just to plug it in?



    In summary, I don't believe anyone is thinking of this properly. Thunderbolt is more of a single-cable laptop dock connector, and an external PCI-E connector for desktop/server systems. USB3 is better for low-speed, cheap devices that will be inserted and removed regularly.



    Great first post. Welcome to the forum.



    I wonder if there can be an internal hub to allow 2 or more TB ports to be on a Mac without using more than 4 PCIe lanes. If so, having a TB port on either side of your Mac notebook (once they free up port-side space from removing the optical drive) could make it easier to plug in peripherals. I don?t think each has to be terminated like ye ol? BNC.



    If each don?t have to be terminated I can see a future Apple display that just has the TB port and power. Its internal TB hub will push to USB (which includes FaceTime camera), FW, and audio, with the DisplayPort signaling at the end. Or is my assumption of TB?s daisy chaining incorrect?
  • Reply 20 of 65
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    I was actually only mentioning that Apple has a penchant for proprietary connectors, which oftentimes appears to be for marketing purposes only.



    Hyperbole much?



    The only Apple proprietary connector was the ADC, and it was a good idea to try to reduce cable clutter but fruitless as people don't care about an extra monitor cable as much as being widely compatible.



    FireWire addressed a real need for a high performance, low latency bus. USB 1 and even USB 2 were designed by Intel to rely on the host CPU - because Intel sells CPUs! FireWire supports DMA and had several other advantages over USB - even today it still serves a real purpose. USB 3 is an interesting hybrid, but I see Thunderbolt as a much more viable long term solution. Thunderbolt is more related to FireWire than USB - thats for sure!



    As for other connectors, Mini Display Port is far from Apple proprietary - indeed they even freely turned it over to the standards body for royalty free use. It's being picked up by more and more manufacturers because it solves a practical problem - it's a space efficient connector in a world of shrinking devices!



    Other technologies that people like to brand as Apple proprietary really aren't - Sun used Apple Desktop Bus (ADP) along with Apple before USB became ubiquitous. I have to laugh because I remember when people thought DIMMs, SCSI and 3.5" floppies were Apple proprietary back in the day. It took the PC industry years to adopt DIMMs - heck, I still have a full size (Full AT size, that is) 386 motherboard that took 4 MB of RAM in DIMMs and the other 4 MB in individual chips (8 chips per 1MB bank), four years after the Mac Plus had been introduced.
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