Print 34 comment(s) - last by Moishe.. on Jul 18 at 4:36 PM

Thunderbolt is too expensive for anything other than "premium" machines

Acer is shying away from the use of Thunderbolt and will instead focus on USB for future machines. 

According to Acer, Thunderbolt is for more high-end PCs and has become much too expensive. USB, on the other hand, has had a performance boost and offers more bang for their buck. 

"We're really focusing on USB 3.0 -- it's an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt," said Ruth Rosene, Acer spokeswoman. "It's less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals."

Oddly, Acer became the first Windows PC company to use Thunderbolt back in 2012.

Thunderbolt is an ultra-fast communication technology developed by Intel that offers fast 10Gbps data-transfer rates. It was first commercially introduced in Apple's 2011 MacBook Pro, and is ideal for tasks like video editing. 

Intel doesn't seem to be too worried about losing Acer, as many other manufacturers will be releasing "premium systems," which are more ideal for the use of Thunderbolt tech. 

"PC adoption is increasing," said Jason Ziller, director of Intel's Client Connectivity Division. "There are more than a dozen new 4th-generation Intel Core processor-based platforms already launched with Thunderbolt, including from Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and others, with more coming throughout 2013. Thunderbolt is targeted toward premium systems. It is not targeted to be on mid-range or value systems in the next couple of years."

One of these PCs is the Dell One 27, which is an all-in-one (AIO) with a 27-inch screen for a starting price of $2,099 USD. 

Ziller added that the company wants Thunderbolt to be ubiquitous among most PCs in about three to five years. 

However, this could be tough due to the price of Thunderbolt. External hard drives with the technology are much more expensive than USB models, not to mention that Thunderbolt cables cost around $50 USD. 

Back in June, Intel unveiled Thunderbolt 2, which is expected to be available by the end of this year. The second generation uses a new controller chip to merge the uni-directional channels into two 20 Gbps bi-directional channels.  

Source: CNET

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Tech, tech, tech
By bug77 on 7/16/2013 8:27:01 AM , Rating: 3
Show me something amazing that Thunderbolt does and that can serve more than a niche market. Then we can talk about Thunderbolt taking off.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Articuno on 7/16/2013 9:32:49 AM , Rating: 5
There is no amazing feature. It's a repeat of USB 2.0 vs Firewire, except this time it's doubtful that Apple/Intel will open source the spec.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Tony Swash on 7/16/2013 9:49:11 AM , Rating: 2
There is no amazing feature.

I think that depends. For most people USB3 looks good enough but for media pros handling HD media in complex work flows and constantly attaching and detaching devices it looks very useful. This clips show what it could do for a pro user.

These demos are for Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 now doubles the through put.

I can see why Acer dropped it though because how many media pros use Acer?

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By kattanna on 7/16/2013 9:57:14 AM , Rating: 2
LOL.. final cut

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By retrospooty on 7/16/2013 10:45:04 AM , Rating: 2
I am not at all sure how "media pro's" is anything but a niche market... That and "media pros" have been getting on fine without it. It's not like a requirement, just a slight improvement over previous offerings, and NOT the only current solution by any means.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By zorxd on 7/16/2013 10:26:28 AM , Rating: 2
Most "media pros" are doing just fine without TB.
Raid hard drives arrays are internal. So are SSDs. Displays stays attached using DVI/HDMI/DP. USB3 isn't a bottle neck for external hard drives.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By kingmotley on 7/16/2013 11:06:07 AM , Rating: 1
Most "media pros" are doing just fine without TB. Small raid arrays are internal. So are SSDs. Displays stays attached using DVI/HDMI/DP. USB3 isn't a bottle neck for external hard drives.

Fixed that for you. There aren't many good cases out there that can house my 14 drive array, and still have room for my 2 bluray players.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By XZerg on 7/16/2013 11:46:02 AM , Rating: 3
what the hell do you do with such a huge array and how much storage is that?

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By chick0n on 7/16/2013 12:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
something that starts with the letter p and ends with the letter n, it's a 4 letter word.

take a guess :)

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Ananke on 7/16/2013 1:23:49 PM , Rating: 3
14 drive array should be inside a dedicated server, on a SAS controllers. Then, you connect through network or fiber, no need of TD...

$50 cable will doom this technology.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By retrospooty on 7/16/2013 1:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
What on Earth do you need 14 drives for? Or are you just a collector? ;)

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By alpha754293 on 7/18/2013 8:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
My array at home is 10 drives, 30 TB raw, 27 TB RAID5 on a 12-port SATA 3 Gbps RAID HBA.

Each time I run a FEA case, it generates at 10 GB scratch file (and probably passes much more data than that). Each time I run an internal engine combustion CFD, each of the result files is 275 MB * 720 crank angle degrees = 198 GB. If I run a full vehicle crash sim, it's also multi-GB result files. It all adds up very quickly.

4x Infiniband QDR NICs are $995 a pop. The cheapest 18-port 4x Infiniband QDR switch is about $6k. And the cable is about $100 each.

So uh....yeah....Thunderbolt would be a REALLY cheap optical connection/replacement. Granted, even with TB2, it'd only be HALF the speed of 4x QDR IB, but I wouldn't have to spend thousands and thousands to get the system up and running. And right now, with conventional GbE RJ-45, I'm network limited. With TB or TB2, I will be PCIe limited (and the RAID card might finally get to flex its muscles a little bit).

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Moishe on 7/18/2013 4:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
I just checked. Your penis is definitely larger...

But really... I'm amazed at the storage requirements, but you're not a typical use case. So I suppose we can restate the fact that this is great for niche markets, not for the average (or even above-average) PC.

Thunderbolt is overkill for the vast majority of computer users. It's like my Mom having a 100Mb internet connection. The extra cost is never justified. USB2 is just fine for more people. USB3 will do fine. Faster is better, but Mom doesn't care if a file transfer takes 5-10 minutes, and it makes no sense to spend hundreds of dollars for an occasional transfer.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By zorxd on 7/16/2013 2:16:56 PM , Rating: 3
Last time I checked the largest TB external enclosure could fit only 4 drives, so that's even worse.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By bug77 on 7/16/2013 11:52:55 AM , Rating: 4
Yes, if you ignore the part where I specifically said "more than a niche market", you almost have an argument.

And I don't have a quarrel with the technology itself. Just with editors publishing every little detail about stuff almost no one cares about.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By retrospooty on 7/16/2013 12:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly... And the obvious alternative in this scenario is eSATA. It gives fast hot plug-ability without even needing a secondary controller. Its all on the SATA bus.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By GTVic on 7/16/2013 3:46:01 PM , Rating: 1
You guys don't understand the technology. USB, SATA, video, Firewire run on top of Thunderbolt. It is not a replacement for any of those.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By retrospooty on 7/17/2013 8:47:53 AM , Rating: 3
We get the tech, we are questioning the need for it as it relates to external storage, with the thought that it is niche at best.

The comment above was that media pros need it for external storage... My specific point was even most media pro's would be fine with existing solutions like eSata or USB3, since both are faster than any HDD.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By retrospooty on 7/16/2013 10:42:56 AM , Rating: 2
"There is no amazing feature. It's a repeat of USB 2.0 vs Firewire, except this time it's doubtful that Apple/Intel will open source the spec."

I agree, no amazing feature, but just pointing out it isnt for Apple to release the spec. It is 100% Intels technology. Apple is simply a licensee as any OEM can be.

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Wolfpup on 7/16/2013 10:53:56 AM , Rating: 5
Good comparison IMO. Early on Firewire looked cool, but practically speaking USB 2.0 was good enough (hell, it's STILL good enough for most things). Then when Firewire 2 came out and had incompatible connectors/cables, I knew it was dead.

I LOVE that USB 3.0 manages to (again) use the same physical connections and the like. Like 2.0, it's just super easy to use, super easy to slowly upgrade bits and pieces of your setup (I had USB 3.0 hard drives a year or two before my first USB 3.0 PC). Mixes fine with 1.0 and 2.0 devices. You can't argue with something that easy to use, that gets the job done for the vast majority of uses.

My new 4TB drives sometimes hit as high as 160MB/s copying from one to the other over USB 3.0! (And that's with mechanical, probably not 7200RPM drives!)

RE: Tech, tech, tech
By Johnmcl7 on 7/16/2013 1:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
Sony's use of Thunderbolt in their last Z series was the one that I thought could be very useful, they released an external graphics card which connected over thunderbolt. Unfortunately the solution was proprietary and the graphics card was both fixed and not particularly powerful but it was just a first generation solution and clearly had potential. With the raft of Ultrabooks out there mostly without their own graphics card nor docking interfaces (and those that do, it's a proprietary system) having a standardised external graphics card system is very appealing. There do seem to be basic USB3 docks but nothing nearly as advanced as a proper external discrete graphics card system that would offer higher performance than an onboard graphics card.

It does very much look like a repeat of USB vs Firewire, although I'm no fan of Apple I did find Firewire very usual for video capture work which USB was pretty much useless at.


RE: Tech, tech, tech
By aliasfox on 7/17/2013 9:12:57 AM , Rating: 2
Really, anything beyond connecting keyboards, mice, printers, cameras, and phones is a niche connector. USB2 was able to do that well enough for almost everybody 10 years ago (and USB was able to do most of that 15 yrs ago).

And the way of technology is to always look for something faster and smaller. Right now, Thunderbolt is both of those things.

As for what Thunderbolt can do... single connector external expansion. Not just storage, but it's fast enough to handle most PCIe expansion needs, in addition to video needs:

- Anything that would be happy on a 2x or 4x PCIe 2.0 bus. TV editors could capture HD video onto their laptops using PCIe cards and software they're already familiar with, and edit an episode on the plane.

- One could have a solution like an Apple Thunderbolt Display - one connector from laptop to display would get you two external screens, USB, ethernet, card readers, etc. Also, as an external screen would only need to have data going one way, an external GPU would have more headroom to work with (thus using most of the 20Gb/sec in one direction rather than having to send it out to a GPU and have the GPU send data back).

- PCIe cards for future connectors. Anybody who doesn't have eSata can use an external PCIe chassis to plug an eSata card in.

- 10 GBit ethernet dongles

- External PCIe storage - potential for 800 MB/sec flash drives?

The only thing it's missing out on is cost, and the ubiquity that goes along with something cheap/free. If USB3 weren't free from Intel (starting with Ivy Bridge), it would also be relegated to 'premium' status - heck, you still see laptops out there that only have one USB3 port and a handful of USB2 ports.

If Intel can somehow manage to include Thunderbolt on all chipsets and sell $10 cables (that Best Buy will still charge $20-30 for...), then Thunderbolt usage would jump significantly.

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