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Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

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Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Kevin Nolan » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:46 pm

Hi -

I know some hate posts like this but I've just got to ask for thought/ opinions and even expert insight if it exists - is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

I ask because I was very sceptical about it when it was released and expressed that scepticism here. There was a sizable backlash, with many heralding it as the saviour of the audio interfacing world.


I took that on board and last year bought a top of the range MBP for music (my 1st serious music computer) - and one year later, there's essentially nothing released for thunderbolt, where it exists is is hugely expensive, yet absolutely nobody here or anywhere else seems to care.


So what's the story - is Thunderbolt desirable or not? Is anyone bothering with it, from the user to the developer side? Has USB 3.0 knocked it on the head?


From what I can determine, it seems already to be relegated to the sidelines as an intriguing, rich-man's protocol that will appear on occasion where only it can do. Certainly there seems to be no mainstream adoption of it.

And I do not subscribe to the notion that we must be patient - Thunderbolt has been out well over a year at this stage – that’s more than enough time for it to be adopted and implemented in various releases.


Would welcome some thoughts here - and I would welcome some official or leadership / journalistic comments by SOS in their magazine about it - surely SOS you have some thought son what is turning out to be the damp-squid of the decade??

Thanks,
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby chris... » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:00 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:the saviour of the audio interfacing world.

Wasn't that how Chris Moyles used to get billed ? (or bill himself, anyway...)

Not sure why you'd want thunderbolt for audio interface - when USB2 can handle far higher data rates than is required.

Disk arrays and high res displays, yes.

( which are now appearing / appeared )
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby ken long » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:01 pm

UAD Apollo is such a device.

Prism Sound Orpheus does not have a TB port but can be successfully used by a Mac via it's TB port and benefit from an extra buss. And the modularity of the ADA8XR means there's no reason a TB card won't be implemented in future.

Even Apogee are on it.

There's no need for the mainstream (read: consumer) end to adopt it at all.

Where are you getting your info?
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Bossman » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:32 pm

When USB and Firewire first appeared they didn't catch on over night, it probably took a couple of years before they were commonplace.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:12 am

I suspect there's a significant threshold to cross before a new protocol such as this gains wider traction and I'd imagine there's also a significant risk involved too in adopting a new protocol at an early stage before it is established, not knowing how widely the protocol will be supported by peripheral device manufacturers.

But we should be grateful that someone, in this case Apple, are prepared to take that risk and hopefully manufacturers will follow suit. I guess it's a chicken and egg situation of sorts. Certainly the Thunderbolt specs are great and when we finally see adapters coming out, will make protocols such as FireWire more future proof.

It's interesting that UAD, a new player in the audio interface market are offering Thunderbolt, I'm guessing we'll see established manufacturers following suit soon.

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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby desmond » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:40 am

New hardware interface standards take a long time to design, develop, ratify, roll out and get manufacturer and third-party adoption.

USB and FW also took years to catch on. Don't forget, we were talking about the potential of Light Peak for a good year or two before it hit any shipping products, and it was Apple that first aggressively implemented it - just like they did for USB and FW too - and those did alright. These days Apple has massive influence in the tech industry.

Currently, third-party TB products are starting to appear, but they are all expensive, as the third-parties are having to do all the R&D to design, develop and implement bullet-proof hardware, and are passing the cost on. For example, there's a Belkin hub, that from one TB port provides multiple USB, FW, display, ethernet and TB ports - price is $299.

TB provides great potential to add extra busses to things like laptops - from TB, I can plug in external displays, express card adapters (hello UAD2 Solo/Laptop), more independent FW busses, USB ports and so on. Plus on a laptop system I will eventually just be able to put the laptop down on the desk, plug in the power and one TB cable, and all my devices - monitors, hard drives, peripherals etc will be connected.

We so used to the relentless pace of software development that perhaps this all seems really slow. However, TB is a really good protocol (apart from the name) and it also has a nice forward expansion roadmap of being able to do more and be faster, and cover all of what FW and USB and Displayport are capable of doing (and more).

I hav no doubt it will be the basis of the next generation of the fundamental interconnectedness of all things computer (along with WiFi).

Would I like to see more cheap TB devices now? Sure... unfortunately it just takes time.

Oh, and cables are £40. That's gotta change...
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby ef37a » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:54 am

Bossman wrote:When USB and Firewire first appeared they didn't catch on over night, it probably took a couple of years before they were commonplace.

Firewire never was and still is not commonplace on lower and mid- priced computers* and and laptops. Even Apples' FW implemention went up and down like a ho's drawers.

Usb 3.0 on the other hand seems to have been quite well integrated into MOBOs and there are quite a few PCI and PCIe adapter card, usb 3.0 hubs (how many brands of FW hub can you count even now?)and hard drives. What we lack is a usb 3.0 audio interface.

TB to FW adaptors? Oooer! Most FW AI's have enough trouble talking to FW chips directly, add another interface layer and we could be in for another "chipset ring around the roses".

*And yes, I DO know this is the mac reservation!

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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby wmcintyre » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:38 am

I run my ProTools Hd system via a mac mini/ Thunderbolt display/ magma chassis, it works really well and is acttually cheaper than buying a mac pro just to put the pci e cards in.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Paul Farrer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:05 am

I have a portable bus-powered SSD drive connected to my mac book air using the thunderbolt port. It is the fastest data transfer rate I have ever seen on any computer ever. The fact you can daisy chain an HD Monitor and various other hard drives off it with the same cable, means that if Thunderbolt doesn't become industry standard (and of course it will, eventually) then we will have lost one of the most useful and powerful protocols since the original MIDI 1.0
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Bossman » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:57 am

ef37a wrote:
Bossman wrote:When USB and Firewire first appeared they didn't catch on over night, it probably took a couple of years before they were commonplace.

Firewire never was and still is not commonplace on lower and mid- priced computers* and and laptops.
perhaps not on PCs, but Firewire has been standard on Macs for years.

Firewire is maybe not as commonplace as USB 2 but I'd say more commonplace than USB3.. Personally, all my computers over the last 8 years have had integrated Firewire ports (mostly Macs, but even my old PC laptop had a 4-pin firewire port).

ef37a wrote:Usb 3.0 on the other hand seems to have been quite well integrated into MOBOs

none of the macs I've seen have ever had USB3.

ef37a wrote:usb 3.0 hubs (how many brands of FW hub can you count even now?)

You can daisy chain Firewire which is why there is no need for a Firewire hub.

ef37a wrote:and hard drives.

Plenty of Firewire Hard drives about. Personally, I've seen more FW HDs that USB3 HDs

ef37a wrote:What we lack is a usb 3.0 audio interface.

There are loads of Firewire Audio Interfaces.

ef37a wrote:Most FW AI's have enough trouble talking to FW chips directly

Personally, I've never had any problems with Firewire chipsets. And I've used plenty of different Firewire AIs and HDs over the years.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby johnny h » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:52 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:Hi -

I know some hate posts like this but I've just got to ask for thought/ opinions and even expert insight if it exists - is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

I ask because I was very sceptical about it when it was released and expressed that scepticism here. There was a sizable backlash, with many heralding it as the saviour of the audio interfacing world.
Wow, that is a pretty incredible exaggeration there! The truth lies somewhere in between it being a 'dud' and the 'saviour of the audio interfacing world'

Firewire and PCIe both work well for audio interfaces so there is no desperate need for thunderbolt devices at this time. However,

Would welcome some thoughts here - and I would welcome some official or leadership / journalistic comments by SOS in their magazine about it - surely SOS you have some thought son what is turning out to be the damp-squid of the decade??
Calm down!
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby tim_obrien » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:13 pm

It takes 18months to over 2 years for a protocol to settle into the market.

Did for usb and firewire too. Too many people are just 'I have to have it YESTERDAY or its a failure to me...'
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Kevin Nolan » Tue May 01, 2012 7:51 pm

tim_obrien wrote:It takes 18months to over 2 years for a protocol to settle into the market.

Did for usb and firewire too. Too many people are just 'I have to have it YESTERDAY or its a failure to me...'



I hope you're right!

Overall I'm not convinced Thunderbolt will take off. The fact that it is only on Macs is one reason. The much faster and ubiquitous acceptance of USB3 is another. The fact that thunderbolt is an optional add on to UA Apollo is also quite "telling".

With speculation mounting that Apple will ditch the Mac Pro and even the 17" MBP (and hence the use of PCI express ) - I hope that Thunderbolt will become more widely adopted by 3rd party HD/SSD manufacturers, audio interface manufacturers and so on. But it's not looking good - even this thread reveals there is little demand for it; and I'm not convinced it takes a few years - USB is rolling out far faster as have a myriad of other ports and protocols.

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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby desmond » Tue May 01, 2012 8:16 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:But overall I'm not convinced Thunderbolt will take off. The fact that it is only on Macs is one reason.


So was, iirc, SCSI, USB and FW on Macs first. They did alright in their time...

Kevin Nolan wrote:The much faster and ubiquitous acceptance of USB3 is another.


It's not ubiquitous. Not a single Apple product has it.



(And actually, are there many USB 3.0 devices? Drives I think, but I can't remember seeing many audio interfaces or other such things yet...)

Kevin Nolan wrote:The fact that thunderbolt is an optional add on to UA Apollo is also quite "telling".


Yes, it's telling that the standard is young, and manufacturers are taking their time to do it right, and that it seems not exactly trivial (or cheap) to implement, so far.

Kevin Nolan wrote:But it's not looking good - even this thread reveals there is little demand for it;


Really? My reading of this thread indicates of lot of enthusiastic responses to the protocol.

Kevin Nolan wrote:and I'm not convinced it takes a few years - USB is rolling out far faster as have a myriad of other ports and protocols.


I assume you mean USB 3.0, as the original USB protocol took a similar amount of time to be implemented, and was first, just like TB, implemented aggressively by Apple before other computer manufacturers adopted it, iiirc.

USB 3.0 is is not a new protocol, it's an extension of an already existing protocol where are lot of the trech was worked out years ago. This is very different to a completely new, high speed protocol, requiring new connectors and interfacing, the options of electric or opto connectivity, and the ability to pass along multiple types of data along it (including USB, FW, Displayport, Ethernet and more.)
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby BWSE » Wed May 02, 2012 1:09 am

I believe I did spot a Thunderbolt port on a new Dell laptop of a colleague a few months back...

Time will tell but I have recently been looking into Thunderbolt as a way to expand the amount of ports on my MBP 15 and there is quite a lot of products out there already, or about to be released. It has taken a while but things are looking good...
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby lukeandrewhill » Wed May 02, 2012 9:19 am

*PEDANT ALERT* "damp squib"

Sorry.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby onesecondglance » Wed May 02, 2012 11:19 am

lukeandrewhill wrote:*PEDANT ALERT* "damp squib"

Sorry.

buy this man a pint.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Kevin Nolan » Wed May 02, 2012 11:30 am



And that's it?

- 15 months after it appears on the first macs. Sorry, I'm just not convinced. This is supposed to be revolutinary, and in my opinion it is already on a downward spiral into obscurity - for me the decision for UA to make it optional on their Apollo, and for Lacie to be so slow and expensive about using it with external hard disks of any worthwhile capacity points to the protocol just not being taken up and not economically viable. I'll expect to see USB 3 instead of Thunderbolt on MBP's in the next year or so.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed May 02, 2012 12:31 pm

No, that isn't it, just what I found in a couple of minutes.

http://www.promise.com/storage/raid_series.aspx?m=192&region=en-global&rsn1=40&rsn3=47

http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/

Like with other interfaces, I expect most of the early adopters to be professional equipment, like video cameras, rather than consumer products for the moment.

With high speed HD cameras, it takes a long time to extract material from them, TB will likely turn up on equipment such as that soon.

http://fcp.co/dslr/canon/249-canon-is-the-first-camera-company-to-announce-thunderbolt-support-this-huge-news

I tried to find USB3 AIs, but none seem to exist.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby johnny h » Wed May 02, 2012 12:37 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:


And that's it?

- 15 months after it appears on the first macs. Sorry, I'm just not convinced. This is supposed to be revolutinary, and in my opinion it is already on a downward spiral into obscurity
This thread is already on a downward spiral into obscurity. With the greatest respect, who cares what you think about thunderbolt? Apple are committed to it and it has many technological advantages over USB 3.

I'll expect to see USB 3 instead of Thunderbolt on MBP's in the next year or so.
Expect what you like, but Apple will NOT be dropping Thunderbolt next year.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 02, 2012 12:46 pm

I dont think we need the downward spiral.

Clearly there are a number of products already supporting Thunderbolt and I'm sure that list will grow rapidly. At the moment we're still in the chicken and egg phase where few computers are equipped so there's no low for peripherals, and with few peripherals there's little demand for thunderbolt-equipped computers.

But we've seen this scenario countless times before with all the other interface formats: a slow initial build, followed by very rapid universal take-up, followed by obsolesence...

Whether TB will beome a ubiquitous standard or not only time will tell.

I suggest we close this thread here before tempers start to get more frayed...

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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Bossman » Wed May 02, 2012 12:47 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:for me the decision for UA to make it optional on their Apollo


probably because it is expensive to implement at the moment and would push the price of the interface up a fair bit (its already expensive enough as it is).. So they made it an option. seems sensible to me.

Kevin Nolan wrote:...and for Lacie to be so slow and expensive about using it with external hard disks of any worthwhile capacity points to the protocol just not being taken up and not economically viable.


probably because its expensive to implement at the moment. and also there is not that much demand for it yet

Kevin Nolan wrote:I'll expect to see USB 3 instead of Thunderbolt on MBP's in the next year or so.


doubt it.. If Apple were going to adopt USB3 they would have done so by now me thinks.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Kevin Nolan » Wed May 02, 2012 7:58 pm

Hi Hugh -

I'm genuinely not stressed by this - text is such a poor mode of communication and if there's a suggestion of tension in my posts it 's honestly not intended or within me on this - I'm playing devil’s advocate (with honest intentions of discussion - not to troll).

I have genuinely considered Thunderbolt a completely pointless addition to my otherwise fabulous new MBP - hence the genuine post (and puzzlement as to just where is the development for this interface) - but am also delighted to be shot down for my point of view - I'm hoping I’m wrong in this instance because I'm waiting for Thunderbolt SSDs and interfaces (and no need to point out the merits / lack of merits in this I have my reasons and I know alternatives exist).

I hope all the pro-Thunderbolt posts turn out to be correct and that I'm wrong - but I felt it time to prod the forum for opinion as it is, in my opinion, all to quiet on the Thunderbold development front.

The number of rebuttals, and the sizable reading number on this thread, offers some hope for Thunderbolt and I'll stop posting on this one now as the thread by now offers a clear enough sense as to where the lie of the land is on Thunderbolt (though I personally wish 3rd parties would bloody well hurry up)!


Cheers to all for an interesting discussion.

Kevin.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Wease » Wed May 02, 2012 8:32 pm

everybody's mentioned that Apple have taken up the protocol

no-ones mentioned that it's an Intel protocol (and technology)

surely the Intel angle is going to increase the uptake - once every other pc manufacturer updates their machine spec (waiting or windows 8 to surface as a reliable platform maybe?)

we'll see hubs first (ok - so we've already got a hub, with a screen thrown in, from Apple) which will enable multiple firewire /usb etc pheriphals to be attached to a device - like the mac mini...i

a pure audio device with solely thunderbolt connection has already been (nearly) built, by one of the most respected audio plugin manufacturers in the world (UAD) - just waiting for the thunderbolt connection - which should be around in the next few months - coupled with apogee devices very much on the horizon etc etc

remembering that pro audio is a very small segment of the market - much smaller than say pro film

all on a mac mini which retails for less than £600

thunderbolt is very much alive - and will do very well.....I'm sure of it

(wonder what the replies would be like to this thread in a year's time...)

It's not a damp squib...it may prove the death of large tower computing tho - imagine hanging all your drives, dsp processors and hard drives onto a computer the size of a beermat (ok 3 beermats) and it being 10x quicker in drive access/dsp audio processing than any computing system out at the mo - you've just imagined the mac mini.....

very very astute by both mac and intel.....
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed May 02, 2012 10:21 pm

Kevin Nolan wrote:I have genuinely considered Thunderbolt a completely pointless addition to my otherwise fabulous new MBP


Well you may change your mind on that as soon as you want to connect an external monitor! You'll find that Thunderbolt port extremely useful!

It really seems that the evidence provided here suggests we are in a normal development phase for a new protocol such as this and there's really no point in crystal ball gazing at this stage.

Best we can do is come back in two years and have a 'told you so' session, one way or the other...

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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Hamund » Wed May 02, 2012 10:32 pm

Let's face it, Kevin Nolan gave this legs - I mean rally, ''Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?''. What a thread title!
Well done Kev. Is that viral or what?
We all know now - the pros like it.
They should have called it Lightfoot.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby TBTS » Wed May 02, 2012 11:53 pm

Thunderbolt isn't a protocol, it's an interface, like Firewire.

Interfaces are capable of transferring information via a set of rules (the protocol)

The Thunderbolt interface is compatibe with many protocols, which includes lots of older types used over firewire and USB, making it very flexible as an interface.

thunderbolt will also be able to daisy-chain multiple USB 3 devices using usb compatible protocols over different channels.
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Folderol » Sat May 05, 2012 7:36 pm

I've been sort of watching this with interest. It has a lot going for it, but has exactly the same Achilles heel that Firewire does - direct memory access completely bypassing the OS. Depending on the environment and what (of the 7 possible) bits of kit can be hanging on the end, this could easily become a nasty attack vector
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Re: Is Thunderbolt a dud / dead protocol?

Postby Will_m » Mon May 07, 2012 12:17 am

I imagine thunderbolt will take off once its adopted by the pc market, I think sony, lenovo and acer are going to be implementing it in their new ranges really soon. I'm sure intel will push it one the new ultrabooks too as its a big selling point for the form factor.
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