MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 Speculation

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 2015
With Thunderbolt 3 and its USB type c and HDMI compatibility, I'm wondering what a future 15 inch MacBook Pro's port configuration will look like.

This is what it is currently:

2 USB 3
2 Thunderbolt 2
1 HDMI
1 headphone jack
1 SD card slot
1 MagSafe power outlet

What do you think? This is my humble prediction (which will most likely be wrong).

3 Thunderbolt 3
1 Thunderbolt 2
2 USB 3
1 headphone jack
1 SD card slot

Edit: this will probably only happen next year
Edit: yes, I predict MagSafe will be DOA
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    I don't have much of a crystal ball here but I will bite anyways.
    javacowboy wrote: »
    With Thunderbolt 3 and its USB type c and HDMI compatibility, I'm wondering what a future 15 inch MacBook Pro's port configuration will look like.

    This is what it is currently:

    2 USB 3
    2 Thunderbolt 2
    1 HDMI
    1 headphone jack
    1 SD card slot
    1 MagSafe power outlet

    What do you think? This is my humble prediction (which will most likely be wrong).

    3 Thunderbolt 3
    In the Mac Book Pro this is doubtful. Mainly because the last set of controllers from Intel only supported two ports.
    1 Thunderbolt 2
    They will likely drop this completely. In fact I would expect 4 TB 3 ports before I'd expect to see both TB 2 and 3.
    2 USB 3
    Yep, I don't expect the old type ports to go away all that fast, especially on desktops. I just don't see the market abandoning the cheap port for things like mice, trackpads, keyboards and so forth that would be slow to move to the USB C connector.

    Interestingly USB C supplies the original USB port signals so adapters will be dirt cheap. Even so important not a big fan of adopters.
    1 headphone jack
    1 SD card slot
    I don't really like the idea of the Mac Book with no SD port so I want to see this port hang around for awhile.
    Edit: this will probably only happen next year
    I can see something shipping in late October. The interesting thing here is the energy around USB-C. I'm already seeing third party manufactures advertising chips to support the interface. That is pretty impressive really.
    Edit: yes, I predict MagSafe will be DOA

    Nope. I honestly don't see MagSafe going anywhere. On the other hand USB-C could lead to universal chargers, that is a laptop charger that would work on any brand or model laptop. The idea has appeal but I don't see USB-C hardware as being physically robust. So maybe that "nope" is really a maybe.

    The other reality here is that with USB-C the charger can also become a hub!! This has great potential for making the use of a laptop less of a hassle and would help minimize the use of wireless interfaces.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    Thunderbolt 3 has so much capability that I think it will eliminate a few ports. I could actually see them just going with 2x TB3 ports with 3.5mm on the other side, maybe retain the SD slot. Skylake has a lot of wireless capability.

    Wireless power = no mag-safe and USB-C charging would be optional
    Wireless data = no real need for an SD slot, drives can connect wirelessly
    Wireless display = 4K wireless means people just wouldn't bother plugging a display in


    [VIDEO]


    For the best performance with SSDs, the ports are still needed but people should move towards wireless peripherals and with a lot of ports, people will stick with the wired ones.

    TB3 can be daisy-chained so a single port would allow dual-4K displays and the display can connect peripherals or the other port can. It also supports native 10Gbps ethernet so it should just be able to plug in rather than having a $600 adaptor like the old TB:

    http://secure1.sonnettech.com/product_info.php?products_id=520

    USB C will connect directly to HDMI so a port solely for HDMI would be a waste when it can give people an extra USB port if they don't need HDMI.

    It would be nice to have 2x TB3 on each side but if it means having a controller for each pair, they might limit it to the 15" rMBP or they can have 3-4 ports on one side and they won't all operate at full speed. This just allows for scenarios like having two SSDs connected and displays that don't have daisy-chaining ports on them.

    Because peripheral manufacturers will support USB C, USB C hubs would alleviate problems with just two ports:

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/60009/width/500/height/1000[/IMG]

    A hub like that would allow you to attach two non-chaining displays and a drive and have a port free.

    I wonder if they'll bring out the hula-hoop again to show off the wireless tech:


    [VIDEO]


    Look how crazy everyone went over wifi back then. The audience wouldn't do that now because wireless is all expected. Wireless power barely gets a mention online but imagine if a computer could act as a power transmitter, it would mean you'd never need to replace batteries in wireless keyboards and mice. You'd be able to sit a camera next to a laptop, iPad or iPhone in the field and transfer at up to 7Gbps (875MB/s). It might not transfer that quickly in the real-world but it'll exceed standard hard drive speeds.

    I don't like the mat setup much for wireless power. I think it would be better if it was more like a hockey puck with vertical antennas round the outside and it would connect to multiple peripherals sitting within 1-2 metres with a small height variation allowed. But then the difficulty is in being compatible with other wireless charging outlets. It'll change the way everyone charges devices though. In an airport for example, they can put charging pads in the arm rests of chairs and phones might be able to charge in your pocket or worst case sit in on the arm rest. Planes can put charging mats in the fold down trays so while you hold a phone over it, it can retain all the charge.

    Here's what the ports are just now:

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/60010/width/800/height/1000[/IMG]

    They could go with 2x TB3 on the left side plus 3.5mm and 2x USB C on the right, possibly with an SD slot.

    It seems likely to me that HDMI will be removed along with legacy USB A and TB2 ports and I think mag-safe will be replaced with wireless power.

    I expect Apple to put wireless capability in external Thunderbolt displays. It wouldn't matter if the wireless tech only streamed 4K because the display won't show 4K native anyway, it shows a scaled image. It'll be a compressed signal but most users wouldn't notice.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    Marvin wrote: »
    Thunderbolt 3 has so much capability that I think it will eliminate a few ports. I could actually see them just going with 2x TB3 ports with 3.5mm on the other side, maybe retain the SD slot. Skylake has a lot of wireless capability.

    Wireless power = no mag-safe and USB-C charging would be optional
    I just don't see wireless power ever being mainstream for a performance laptop. Trying to do 75 watts of power transfer wirelessly seem to fly in the face of what I know about electronics.
    Wireless data = no real need for an SD slot, drives can connect wirelessly
    I'm not sure how you make the connection here as I don't see wireless data as even related to SD technology.
    Wireless display = 4K wireless means people just wouldn't bother plugging a display in
    This might be OK at home or a small office but in a corporate environment I would see bandwidth and interference being an issue. Wireless displays just remind at because we can doesn't mean we should.


    For the best performance with SSDs, the ports are still needed but people should move towards wireless peripherals and with a lot of ports, people will stick with the wired ones.
    Your use of the word should here is interesting as there are good reasons for not moving to wireless tech. People should choose the best technique for the task at hand, For some people that might mean fiber optic connections.
    TB3 can be daisy-chained so a single port would allow dual-4K displays and the display can connect peripherals or the other port can. It also supports native 10Gbps ethernet so it should just be able to plug in rather than having a $600 adaptor like the old TB:
    Honestly it really looks like Intel and Apple did their homework here with respect to USB-C and TB3. Unfortunately for me it could easily be another 4 years before I get another laptop. Sucks really to know you had to buy on the tail end of the current technology curve. This is why I had high hopes for SkyLake this summer.

    USB C will connect directly to HDMI so a port solely for HDMI would be a waste when it can give people an extra USB port if they don't need HDMI.

    It would be nice to have 2x TB3 on each side but if it means having a controller for each pair, they might limit it to the 15" rMBP or they can have 3-4 ports on one side and they won't all operate at full speed. This just allows for scenarios like having two SSDs connected and displays that don't have daisy-chaining ports on them.
    They (Apple) really need to keep the 15" MBP focused on power users. As such they need to ship the machine with enough ports to keep such people happy. 4 TB3/USB-C ports could do a lot to keep such people happy. Complete TB 3 support would be needed on all ports though.

    The interesting thing from my perspective would be to morph the 15" machine into a 16" machine that holds size as much as is can be done with an edge to edge screen and a slight increase in size. Keep the screen ratio slightly tall too, 16:10 isn't that bad. Either way there has to be a focus on at least one machine in Apples laptop line that is unabashedly focused on delivering performance.

    Because peripheral manufacturers will support USB C, USB C hubs would alleviate problems with just two ports:
    Well it depends upon how well the hubs work, the old fashioned USB hubs could at times be a total waste of money. That being said there is plenty of evidence that there is strong acceptance of USB-C in the industry. USB-C Chips and such are already being marketed by independent manufactures so we should see new hardware soon.

    A hub like that would allow you to attach two non-chaining displays and a drive and have a port free.

    I wonder if they'll bring out the hula-hoop again to show off the wireless tech:



    Look how crazy everyone went over wifi back then. The audience wouldn't do that now because wireless is all expected. Wireless power barely gets a mention online but imagine if a computer could act as a power transmitter, it would mean you'd never need to replace batteries in wireless keyboards and mice. You'd be able to sit a camera next to a laptop, iPad or iPhone in the field and transfer at up to 7Gbps (875MB/s). It might not transfer that quickly in the real-world but it'll exceed standard hard drive speeds.
    But why would you? Doing wireless data transfers just opens you up to hacking and interference issues. There are obvious situations where wireless makes sense but just as many where it is problematic.
    I don't like the mat setup much for wireless power. I think it would be better if it was more like a hockey puck with vertical antennas round the outside and it would connect to multiple peripherals sitting within 1-2 metres with a small height variation allowed. But then the difficulty is in being compatible with other wireless charging outlets. It'll change the way everyone charges devices though. In an airport for example, they can put charging pads in the arm rests of chairs and phones might be able to charge in your pocket or worst case sit in on the arm rest. Planes can put charging mats in the fold down trays so while you hold a phone over it, it can retain all the charge.

    Here's what the ports are just now:


    They could go with 2x TB3 on the left side plus 3.5mm and 2x USB C on the right, possibly with an SD slot.

    It seems likely to me that HDMI will be removed along with legacy USB A and TB2 ports and I think mag-safe will be replaced with wireless power.
    Any new Mac Laptop will need or "should" have a USB-A port for the foreseeable future. There is just to much legacy hardware out there for it not to be supported for some it e to come. Yes I understand adapters but honestly a pain in the ass.

    I expect Apple to put wireless capability in external Thunderbolt displays. It wouldn't matter if the wireless tech only streamed 4K because the display won't show 4K native anyway, it shows a scaled image. It'll be a compressed signal but most users wouldn't notice.
  • Reply 4 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Trying to do 75 watts of power transfer wirelessly seem to fly in the face of what I know about electronics.

    The Rezence wireless charging only supports up to 50W at low distances of around 5cm but it's possible to do far more. Toyota is testing out wireless charging for cars with 3.3kW up to 20cm with 90% efficiency:

    http://witricity.com/products/wit-3300/

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/toyota-tests-wireless-charging-for-electric-cars-2014-02-18

    Here's a 60W bulb:


    [VIDEO]

    wizard69 wrote: »
    I'm not sure how you make the connection here as I don't see wireless data as even related to SD technology.


    [VIDEO]

    wizard69 wrote: »
    Your use of the word should here is interesting as there are good reasons for not moving to wireless tech.

    It's the same with everything that was once wired - ethernet, mice, keyboards, speakers. Wireless makes everything more convenient - if mobile devices had to be wired, there would be no such thing as mobile - and it'll bring about global power standards so people don't have to worry about charging plug compatibility any more.
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Unfortunately for me it could easily be another 4 years before I get another laptop.

    The one you just bought is worth close to the same as what you paid for it. When the new one comes out, you'd have a small loss in the resale.
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Any new Mac Laptop will need or "should" have a USB-A port for the foreseeable future. There is just to much legacy hardware out there for it not to be supported for some it e to come. Yes I understand adapters but honestly a pain in the ass.

    For peripherals that connect with a cable, they just get a different cable, no adaptor needed. There can be micro-adaptors that get left attached to products with fixed USB A plugs. This is the new USB, it's not an alternative.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    dhagan4755dhagan4755 Posts: 2,150member

    It's obvious Apple will replace the two Thunderbolt 2 ports with Thunderbolt 3.  The two USB-A 3.0 ports are taken out.  

     

    As far as the rest of the MacBook Pro goes, MagSafe is safe. The headphone jack moves up next to the Thunderbolt 3 ports. On the right side, Apple will move the HDMI port into the space previously occupied by USB-A. The SD card slot also stays. I expect Apple to slightly taper the MacBook Pro toward the front à la MacBook Air — or at least give the allusion of thinner.  In addition, Apple will slightly reduce the screen's size size by making the bezel smaller around the display. I'm guessing this bezel reduction will be subtle.  I don't think they'll offer color options, opting to offer only in space gray.

  • Reply 6 of 27
    dhagan4755 wrote: »
    It's obvious Apple will replace the two Thunderbolt 2 ports with Thunderbolt 3.  The two USB-A 3.0 ports are taken out.  

    As far as the rest of the MacBook Pro goes, MagSafe is safe. The headphone jack moves up next to the Thunderbolt 3 ports. On the right side, Apple will move the HDMI port into the space previously occupied by USB-A. The SD card slot also stays. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">I expect Apple to slightly taper the MacBook Pro toward the front à la MacBook Air — or at least give the allusion of thinner.  In addition, Apple will slightly reduce the screen's size size by making the bezel smaller around the display. I'm guessing this bezel reduction will be subtle.  I don't think they'll offer color options, opting to offer only in space gray.</span>

    Why would they remove all the USB 3 ports when peripherals like keyboards, mice, USB sticks, most external drives and miscellaneous devices still use USB 2/3. Why would they keep HDMI when Thunderbolt 3 can do HDMI with an adapter and HDMI connections to third party monitors aren't nearly as common as the USB peripherals?
  • Reply 7 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    javacowboy wrote: »
    Why would they remove all the USB 3 ports when peripherals like keyboards, mice, USB sticks, most external drives and miscellaneous devices still use USB 2/3. Why would they keep HDMI when Thunderbolt 3 can do HDMI with an adapter and HDMI connections to third party monitors aren't nearly as common as the USB peripherals?

    I can see Apple dropping USB-A even if I don't want them to do so. Apple has never cared much for legacy compatibility so users like me that would benefit from an old port or two get screwed.
  • Reply 8 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by JavaCowboy View Post

    This is my humble prediction (which will most likely be wrong).

     

    Yep. Know why? Apple doesn’t care about ports. They hate ports. Always have. Even after Steve died they didn’t add more ports.

     

    2 Thunderbolt 3

    1 headphone jack

    1 SD card slot

     

    This is what I see it having.

     

    The only computer for which they’ve said, “Know what? Yes. Ports. PORTS FOR YOU!” is the Mac Pro, and that’s only by ABSOLUTE NECESSITY since they got rid of the internal expansion.

     

    This is what the Mac Pro has right now:

     

    4 USB 3

    6 Thunderbolt 2

    2 Ethernet

    1 HDMI

    1 Headphone

    1 Speaker

     

    This is what I see the next one having: 

     

    6 Thunderbolt 3

    2 Ethernet

    1 HDMI... maybe

    1 Headphone

    1 Speaker

     

    Set of 6 TB2-TB3 dongles available for $59. Have them be tiny, like this.

  • Reply 9 of 27
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    This is what I see the next one having: 

     

    6 Thunderbolt 3

    2 Ethernet

    1 HDMI... maybe

    1 Headphone

    1 Speaker

     

    Set of 6 TB2-TB3 dongles available for $59. Have them be tiny, like this.


    If they migrate to USB-C with the other machines, why wouldn't they simply add those to the mac pro as well? Dongles are generally there to support legacy. On notebooks they're also tolerated as a "docking" mechanism. Your scenario is just an awkward. Oh wait, thunderbolt 3 took on the usb-c connector didn't it?

  • Reply 10 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post

    Oh wait, thunderbolt 3 took on the usb-c connector didn't it?



    Yep. They’d work as dual action plugs.

     

    Oh, and a set of 6 TB3-USB A female dongles available for the same price.

  • Reply 11 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    This is what I see the next Mac Pro having: 

    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">6 Thunderbolt 3</span>

    2 Ethernet
    1 HDMI... maybe
    1 Headphone
    1 Speaker

    Set of 6 TB2-TB3 dongles available for $59. Have them be tiny, like this.

    Oh, and a set of 6 TB3-USB A female dongles available for the same price.

    I don't think they'll have TB dongles for TB2, they'd just have TB3 to TB2 cables. The cable ends have controller chips in them. A small adaptor would probably be cheaper but they might not be able to do the conversion in a small passive adaptor. With the cable, the controller can convert the signal and send down the right signal to the TB2 chip on the other end.

    For USB A, the current Macbook adaptors would work ok with TB3.

    I also don't think they'll have ethernet ports because right now they use 1Gbps ethernet. TB3 is 10Gbps ethernet so they'd just need a TB3 to 10Gbps ethernet cable.

    I could see them doing audio ports and 6-8 TB3 ports, maybe a mix of basic USB C ports. They could have 6 TB3 and 4 USB C. They'd have different markings next to them but USB C devices would work in both.

    With PCIe4 the bandwidth doubles so this means 3x 5K displays, potentially 6x 4K displays. They can double video memory to 16GB. They can double SSD to 2TB with 2-3x the speed. They can boost the core count 50% and performance up to 80% faster. Memory density doubles so at least 256GB RAM support but 512GB should be possible. GPU performance can double. It should make for a worthwhile update.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

    I don't think they'll have TB dongles for TB2, they'd just have TB3 to TB2 cables.

     

    But the cables would have to be male–female. Has Apple ever done that? 

  • Reply 13 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    I don't think they'll have TB dongles for TB2, they'd just have TB3 to TB2 cables.

    But the cables would have to be male–female. Has Apple ever done that? 

    They'd be male-male. It would just have the TB2 plug on one end and USB C on the other. The two controller chips between them would convert the data.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    Hey Marvin

    The one thing that really rubs me the wrong way about wireless charging is how do you use it in the field. That is away for the nice level environment of a desktop. If you need to be within a few centimeters of a "pad" it will be very cumbersome.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Hey Marvin

    The one thing that really rubs me the wrong way about wireless charging is how do you use it in the field. That is away for the nice level environment of a desktop. If you need to be within a few centimeters of a "pad" it will be very cumbersome.

    It can be a small magnetic pad like say a pad that just sticks to the underside of the laptop. If someone trips over the cable, it just detaches like mag-safe. Think of it like a new, better mag-safe.

    If Apple can get it to work at a distance of 1m, I think they have a patent for wireless charging at longer distances, it can be more like a small plastic cylinder or block and you'd sit devices within that distance. You can sit the transmitter part on the desk or chair next to you and charge multiple devices at a time and power wireless drives. I think universal charging is going to be very useful because you'd just attach the pad to the laptop and sit the phone next to it and it can charge too without plugging it in.

    In public places, these chargers will let you leave the chargers tucked away. It'll be great for travellers in airports and hotels. If a hotel room has a desk with it built-in, you'd be able to sit a bag with a laptop, phone and tablet inside and they'd all charge just by sitting the bag down. You'd hear a unanimous bleep from all of them just by dropping the bag down to know they're charging.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,792member

    It may come with a Xeon chip!

  • Reply 17 of 27
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    frank777 wrote: »
    It may come with a Xeon chip!

    Intel is saving info on that chip for their next conference! Given that it would be nice those Apple bring back a large screen machine with a sox core Xeon in it. One of the worst things about the 17" machine was the high cost for little more than a large screen. Give a 16-18" screen portable, a laptop Xeon with real benefits and it might be worth the cost.

    You still have the problem of suitable volume for a niche machine but giving the machine real functional advantages over the 15" machine would do wonders for the lineup. If they went to a 12, 14 & 16" line up for the MBP's and used new screen technolgies the 16" screen wouldn't be much bigger than today's 15".
  • Reply 18 of 27
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,792member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    Intel is saving info on that chip for their next conference! Given that it would be nice those Apple bring back a large screen machine with a sox core Xeon in it. One of the worst things about the 17" machine was the high cost for little more than a large screen. Give a 16-18" screen portable, a laptop Xeon with real benefits and it might be worth the cost.



    You still have the problem of suitable volume for a niche machine but giving the machine real functional advantages over the 15" machine would do wonders for the lineup. If they went to a 12, 14 & 16" line up for the MBP's and used new screen technolgies the 16" screen wouldn't be much bigger than today's 15".

     

    Great points. When is that conference?

  • Reply 19 of 27
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,792member

    Intel is now saying that the demand for the mobile Xeon is, in part, coming from "designers and content creators". The chips include TB3 and USB 3.1.

     

    That's as close as you can practically come to saying "we're building this chip because Apple asked us to."

  • Reply 20 of 27
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

     

    Intel is now saying that the demand for the mobile Xeon is, in part, coming from "designers and content creators". The chips include TB3 and USB 3.1.

     

    That's as close as you can practically come to saying "we're building this chip because Apple asked us to."


     

    Which will be only used for the Mac Pro, Apple will never put a Xeon into their iMac or MacBook Pro line, unless they come out with a completely new all-in-one specifically tailored for workstations use, which I highly doubt they will. Apple still hasn't updated it's Mac Pro and you guys think they'll add a Xeon to one of their other lines, slim to no chance. If you thought Apple overcharges for normal memory, just wait until it's ECC and soldered onto the motherboard so you can't purchase it your yourself. I saved almost 2,000 bucks by buying my own memory and CPU for my Mac Pro and I even got a 14 Core Xeon and Kingston memory,

Sign In or Register to comment.