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A publication claims that USB 3.0 could at last hit Macs.

The addition would allow Apple customers to ditch their $50 premium cables -- and, more importantly, gain access to many more peripherals.  (Source: iFixIt)
Move could alleviate Apple owners' woes of limited peripheral selection

These days USB 3.0, an extra-speedy connectivity technology is supported by an increasing number of peripherals like external hard drives or thumb drives.  And it's become quite mainstream in the PC market, even showing up in mid-range models like the Micro-Star International Comp., Ltd.'s (TPE:2377) $700 MSI FX603 notebook.

But customers of Apple Inc. (AAPL) -- the third largest computer-maker in the U.S. -- are willing to settle for paying as much $3,000 or more for some high end "fully loaded" notebooks or $5,000 on some desktops without a scrap of USB 3.0 support.

Ex-CEO Steve Jobs claimed customers didn't care about USB 3.0 and it wasn't time for them to be allowed to get it, anyways.  Apple instead offers customers Thunderbolt, an early copper-based implementation of Intel Corp.'s (INTC) upcoming fiber-optic "LightPeak" technology.

LightPeak offers 20 Gbit/s bidirectional data transmission versus up to 5 Gbit/s with USB 3.0.  While that sounds like a favorable trade, one relatively minor downside to this arrangement is that Apple customers have to pony up a whopping $50 USD per cable, thanks to the slew of microchips inside the complicated design.  Further, while an extra $50 on a $5000 computer may not seem that bad, the lack of selection in terms of ThunderBolt peripherals offers a far more pressing issue for Apple computer users.

Now with a new CEO at the head of Apple the rumor has popped up yet again that the company will finally catch up to PCs in hardware by offering its customers USB 3.0.  

VR-Zone writes, "A lot of people have been disappointed over Apple's lack of interest in the USB 3.0 standard, but thanks to a little bird, VR-Zone has heard that the company is still looking at USB 3.0 as a potential feature to add on future products. As to when and how this might happen is not something we know, but from our understanding it'll happen before Intel integrates USB 3.0 support into its chipsets."

The important word in that comment is "before".  Intel is supposed to drop in support for the USB 3.0 standard in its Ivy Bridge CPU series, which will launch in 2012.  If VR-Zone's source is correct Apple could be preparing to deliver USB 3.0 slightly ahead of schedule in late 2011.

If Apple does that it'd probably have to go with a third party chip to add compatibility to its stock Intel chipset.  That wouldn't be the first time Apple has done this -- its a well known secret that back in 2010 it hacked at the stock chipsets to allow graphics switching (similar to Optimus) between the integrated GPU in the Intel CPU core and the dedicated onboard NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) GeForce GPU.

Hopefully the rumors are true, after all, from our perspective there's little excuse to be peddling a $5,000 computer that lacks USB 3.0 support found in $700 Windows PCs.


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RE: ???
By Argon18 on 9/2/2011 6:38:49 PM , Rating: -1
Edzachary. Mac's have been speeding past peecee's for years, with Firewire 800 delivering nearly 3x the real world throughput as USB 2.0.

Now with Thunderbolt, they're still ahead of the curve, since it's much faster than USB 3.0. Don't take my word for it, go check out some USB 3.0 benchmarks - they're embarrassingly bad.

If you think USB 3.0 is going to see anywhere near 649 MB/s which is its theoretical maximum, you are grossly mistaken. Just like USB 2.0 before it, you'll be lucky to achieve even a fraction of that. Real world speed is in the 40% to 50% range.


RE: ???
By kraeper on 9/2/2011 6:46:24 PM , Rating: 3
Huh. I guess I'll have to go explain to my PC that it doesn't really have Firewire 800.

Boy is it gonna be bummed. :(


RE: ???
By B3an on 9/2/2011 7:30:53 PM , Rating: 3
I had Firewire 800 on a PC about 4 or 5 years ago.

And this article makes me laugh. All the iSheep that have been saying how bad USB3 and Apple dont need it... yet look what we have here... Apple want it.


RE: ???
By AssBall on 9/2/2011 6:54:26 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe one day Apple will actually offer people what is affordable, reliable, inexpensive, and supports more devices. Oh wait, they just did with USB 3.


RE: ???
By fxnick on 9/4/2011 11:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
are you saying PCs are more reliable than macs?

In the time ive had my G5 powermac(which is still my main computer), ive gone through easily about 3 or 4 PCs


RE: ???
By Flunk on 9/2/2011 10:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt are complementary rather than alternative technologies. USB 3.0 controllers are cheap as chips and will go into anything, even tiny devices. Thunderbolt offers greater throughput but at the cost of significantly increased price.

The question is, does this printer/usb drive/mouse/keyboard need all that bandwidth? In most cases the answer is no so they're going to go with the low cost solution because there isn't a market for hardware that costs 2x the normal price and performs exactly the same.

P.S. Thunderbolt is also available on some "PC" computers, it's not an Apple standard, but an Intel one so if it takes off (which, based on previous experiences is unlikely) you will see it on everything too.


RE: ???
By FITCamaro on 9/2/2011 11:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
The other issue is that you only get one, count them, one Thunderbolt port. What if I want to plug in my device with Thunderbolt compatibility in addition to an external monitor? Now I have to either choose, swap back and forth, or buy some kind of hub (if you can even get one).

With USB there's more than one. Of course even in this Macs suck. My $2800 Macbook Pro work laptop has only TWO USB ports. TWO! My 3 year old $600 laptop has more than that. It also has HDMI. Another thing the Apple lacks. Oh yeah. Blu-ray too.


RE: ???
By messele on 9/3/2011 6:06:29 AM , Rating: 1
Or you could stop being ignorant and realise that you plug the screen into your computer, the hard drive into the screen and everything will work fine. Saves having lots of ugly cables hanging out of your computer, can you see that?

But don't let that stop you making stories up about having to suffer an inferior $2,800 dollar 2-port USB mac at work when we all know the $2,499 17" is not only cheaper than you quoted but has more USB ports.

But of course you could buy Windows laptops including HDMI and Blu-Ray for $600 three years ago.

Lies.


RE: ???
By Ramtech on 9/3/2011 4:30:55 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that most current monitors dont have USB hub and if they have those ports are just USB 2.0

And if i do plug my harddisk into monitor i will have ugly cable hanging from my screen can i have that?


RE: ???
By lukarak on 9/4/2011 8:44:30 AM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? He's talking about thunderbolt. It has only one connector because it doesn't need a hub, and all devices have an 'in and out'. So you can just daisy chain them. It doesn't work like that with USB


RE: ???
By FITCamaro on 9/5/2011 11:53:40 AM , Rating: 2
Do I need to pull out the receipt?

And yes with the options the laptop has, it was $2800. I also don't have the 17". But the 15". But perhaps prices have changed as well.


RE: ???
By retrospooty on 9/2/2011 11:01:17 PM , Rating: 2
"If you think USB 3.0 is going to see anywhere near 649 MB/s which is its theoretical maximum, you are grossly mistaken"

And you can buy a Thunderbolt device that uses that speed? No, the fastes external requirement is an external hard drive which is no-where near that fast, not even SSD's need that speed. Tbolt is overpriced, un-needed, and not backwards compatible, and now a year late, Apple finally "Gets" it.


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