Long, optical Thunderbolt 3 cables are coming soon

Posted:
in macOS
Sonnet is teaming up with Archiware to demonstrate the first in a line of optical Thunderbolt 3 cables, allowing for high-speed data transfers across the protocol at long range.

Optical Thunderbolt 2 cable, presently available
Optical Thunderbolt 2 cable, presently available


Sonnet will be demonstrating the new cable connected to a Mac mini with Archiware software running in Sonnet's stand. The Mac mini will be controlled from Archiware's stand over 50 meters of as-yet unreleased Corning optical Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The computer will be running Archiware's P5 media asset management software suite, with P5 Backup, and P5 Archive. Archiware staff will control the system, mounted in a xMac mini Server Thunderbolt 3 enclosure from their stand with a keyboard, mouse, and display connected to a Sonnet Echo 11 Thunderbolt 3 dock.

Prior to the release of the Corning cable, Thunderbolt 3 cable lengths have been limited to about two meters. Sonnet says that varying lengths of the Corning cables will be available, with lengths up to that 50 meters that will be demonstrated at the IBC conference.

Pricing on the optical Thunderbolt 3 cables is not yet available. At present, a 18-foot optical Thunderbolt 2 cable retails for $215, and a 200-foot run retails for $999.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,429member
    Wondering if these cables could also be USB 4 compatible. Tech reports seem to indicate USB 4 is basically Thunderbolt 3 with USB 2, 3, and 3.1 backward compatibility. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    lkrupp said:
    Wondering if these cables could also be USB 4 compatible. Tech reports seem to indicate USB 4 is basically Thunderbolt 3 with USB 2, 3, and 3.1 backward compatibility. 
    When I spoke to the Corning representative at NAB, I was told these would not support USB. USB 4 had not been ratified, so this may change in the future.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    Just curious.. why does it matter what kind of cable materials are used to transmit data as long as a protocol is used? Fiber optics has the advantage of transmitting data over longer ranges but is there a reason why we cannot use it for USB protocol? Can't the microchip be embedded in each receptable to do the real time translation?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    netrox said:
    Just curious.. why does it matter what kind of cable materials are used to transmit data as long as a protocol is used? Fiber optics has the advantage of transmitting data over longer ranges but is there a reason why we cannot use it for USB protocol? Can't the microchip be embedded in each receptable to do the real time translation?
    It doesn’t matter that it’s optical it only matters what their transceivers support, and yes it could be used for USB if they want it to.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    Optical fibres for data transmission are very cheap. Their pricing for 200 feet is a joke. If the user could supply their own fibre - that’d be very interesting.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,744member
    Optical fibres for data transmission are very cheap. Their pricing for 200 feet is a joke. If the user could supply their own fibre - that’d be very interesting.
    Not necessarily.  I deal with fiber optic cables often.  "Cheap" fiber cable usually has the core made of plastic and the quality of the fiber varies greatly, particularly when dealing with fiber made in China.  High-quality cable has the core made from glass which provides a very high quality signal with minimal to no loss over crazy distances.  For these thunderbolt cables to work at those distances must mean they're using a very high quality glass fiber core, in addition to some serious optical transceivers to maintain that kind of bandwidth and reliability.

    It's pricey stuff.  Even for Thundrbolt2, I would seriously consider these cables if it means I could move my noisy TB2 RAID somewhere else in my house, maybe even the basement.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    anomeanome Posts: 1,302member
    I take it this is different from an actual Light Peak connection, in that it's not using a native optical signal, just transmitting the Thunderbolt signal over an optic connection.

    Shame Light Peak didn't really get any traction on its own - Thunderbolt was supposed to just be a placeholder while they got the cost of the hardware down. Then again, I was always a bit hazy about how power transmission was supposed to work without the copper. (I mean, it's possible, but it would make the hardware even more expensive and complicated.)

    Come to think of it, do the Corning cables support Power Delivery? Or is that specifically a part of the USB spec they don't support?
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    anome said:
    I take it this is different from an actual Light Peak connection, in that it's not using a native optical signal, just transmitting the Thunderbolt signal over an optic connection.

    Shame Light Peak didn't really get any traction on its own - Thunderbolt was supposed to just be a placeholder while they got the cost of the hardware down. Then again, I was always a bit hazy about how power transmission was supposed to work without the copper. (I mean, it's possible, but it would make the hardware even more expensive and complicated.)

    Come to think of it, do the Corning cables support Power Delivery? Or is that specifically a part of the USB spec they don't support?
    They might do it with a copper sheath around the optical core. I have no idea how effective that would be, though.
    watto_cobra
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