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-   -   Belkin Thunderbolt to USB/FW/audio/Ethernet/Thunderbolt (http://forums.macnn.com/57/consumer-hardware-and-components/456228/belkin-thunderbolt-usb-fw-audio-ethernet/)

 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 11:33 AM
Belkin Thunderbolt to USB/FW/audio/Ethernet/Thunderbolt
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock

- Quickly connects into a desktop workstation and instantly accesses multiple devices with a single cable
- Adds reliable, gigabit Ethernet connectivity to your laptop
- Includes three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, one HDMI port, one 3.5mm Audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port and two Thunderbolt ports (one upstream and one downstream) for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt compatible device.
- Utilizes Thunderbolt Technology for data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps bi-directionally


$299 - Ouch!

Hopefully we'll see it for $149 in 2013. Mind you, if I were in the market for one, I'd probably still want to wait for USB 3 support, both from Apple machines and the from the dock, unless the price was lower.
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 11:53 AM
Furthermore, I will not buy any new Mac for myself until it gets USB 3. That it's 2012 and Apple still has no USB 3 machines is totally lame. It seems like Apple is trying to push Thunderbolt by excluding USB 3, the same way they tried to push Firewire by excluding USB 2 from their machines, for years.

There's no way I'm gonna buy a Thunderbolt drive at those premium prices when USB 3 drives cost much, much less, runs at the same speed, and works on so many non-Apple machines.
 
turtle777 Jan 9, 2012 12:46 PM
Why is USB3 such a big deal ?

-t
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 12:56 PM
Cuz it's a lot faster than USB 2, it's widely available, the ports are backwards compatible, and it's way, way cheaper than Thunderbolt for comparable performance (on single external drives). USB 2 is quite a limiting factor these days for hard drive and SSD performance.

Thunderbolt is a superior interface overall, but USB 3 is much more practical in the real-world in 2012.

Mind you, a lot of this would be moot if Apple just supported eSATA on its iMacs and Mac minis.
 
turtle777 Jan 9, 2012 01:06 PM
Well, re: speed - the only thing benefiting from this is HDs.
How much faster is USB3 than FW800 ?

-t
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 01:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by turtle777 (Post 4141347)
Well, re: speed - the only thing benefiting from this is HDs.
How much faster is USB3 than FW800 ?
USB 3 is faster or about the same, but that's not the main issue.

The main issue is that FW800 is pretty much dead in the consumer and even prosumer market, and as such the availability of FW800 hardware is much less and the cost is much more.

I own a few FW800 peripherals, and a FW800 hub, and would rather just go USB 3 and/or eSATA. eSATA has the added benefit of being a native format, so you don't get FW or USB compatibility issues.
 
amazing Jan 9, 2012 01:25 PM
It's beginning to seem that Thunderbolt is dead in the water, too. Especially because of the prices.

But, hey, you can get a refurbished Thunderbolt display for $849, which means that compared to Belkin's price you get the display for only $550 more!
 
boy8cookie Jan 9, 2012 02:20 PM
Thunderbolt is so much better than USB3, Apple will probably stop including USB ports on it's machines when the next iPad & iPhone are out (those will connect via thunderbolt).
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 04:25 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by boy8cookie (Post 4141378)
Thunderbolt is so much better than USB3, Apple will probably stop including USB ports on it's machines when the next iPad & iPhone are out (those will connect via thunderbolt).
That doesn't make any sense at all, since < 0.1% of computers in the world have Thunderbolt. Only a few recent Macs and no PCs have Thunderbolt. Plus, it would add greatly to the cost of the iPhones and iPads, for no good reason.

Furthermore, "better" is a relative term. Many said Firewire was better than USB, and in many ways it was, but look at the state of Firewire today. To me, USB 3 is a good practical solution that's cheap and ubiquitous. Thunderbolt has some significant advantages, but it's very expensive and has very poor uptake so far.
 
amazing Jan 9, 2012 04:47 PM
Plus Thunderbolt accessories are not exactly falling out of the sky.

In some ways, Belkin's announcement of a 6 month delayed availability comes close to vaporware. And the price-point is prohibitive--they've got to be planning on not selling many, so what's the point of rushing forward with production?
 
P Jan 9, 2012 05:21 PM
What I fail to see is the use case where USB 3.0 really makes a difference. Yes, I could probably get a marginally higher peak bandwidth in a file copy situation, but how often do I do that? Meanwhile, Thunderbolt lets you do things like this, and in the future do so at speeds that will make SATA cry, much less USB 3.0. Bandwidth is much less important than latency.

Quote, Originally Posted by Eug
That it's 2012 and Apple still has no USB 3 machines is totally lame. It seems like Apple is trying to push Thunderbolt by excluding USB 3, the same way they tried to push Firewire by excluding USB 2 from their machines, for years.
Intel doesn't have it in their chipsets, and Apple is so focused on keeping the chip count low that they skipped an entire Intel CPU generation in the MBA and 13" MBP to avoid adding an extra chip. Delaying USB 3.0 by a year is small potatoes by comparison. The MP hasn't even been updated since, I think, so what should they do? Redesign the iMac mobo for one generation to squeeze a USB 3.0 port in early?

(and for the sake of correctness: Intel put USB 2.0 in ICH4 in spring 2002, which was the start of its major adoption. Apple included it in iMacs from Fall 2003, so they were barely a year and a half behind).
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 05:38 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4141454)
What I fail to see is the use case where USB 3.0 really makes a difference. Yes, I could probably get a marginally higher peak bandwidth in a file copy situation, but how often do I do that? Meanwhile, Thunderbolt lets you do things like this, and in the future do so at speeds that will make SATA cry, much less USB 3.0. Bandwidth is much less important than latency.
I don't see what's so special about a high-dollar Thunderbolt external SSD. Most of the time, personally I'd rather spend much less get get a USB 3 SSD. Latency on USB 3 is quite decent in this context.

Early look at USB 3.0 X25-M SSD performance versus USB 2.0, eSATA and more :: TweakTown USA Edition

http://cdn5.tweaktown.com/content/3/0/3004_04.png

People for some reason attribute the deficiencies of USB 2 to USB 3, while actual testing indicates performance on USB 3 is very good, including with regards to latency for SSDs.

Kingston HyperX Max USB 3.0 SSD Review


http://www.everythingusb.com/images/...sfer-graph.png

BTW, the controller for this SSD is the same one as in the MacBook Pros (plus the USB 3 adapter board).
 
Eug Jan 9, 2012 10:17 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4141454)
Intel doesn't have it in their chipsets, and Apple is so focused on keeping the chip count low that they skipped an entire Intel CPU generation in the MBA and 13" MBP to avoid adding an extra chip. Delaying USB 3.0 by a year is small potatoes by comparison. The MP hasn't even been updated since, I think, so what should they do? Redesign the iMac mobo for one generation to squeeze a USB 3.0 port in early?

(and for the sake of correctness: Intel put USB 2.0 in ICH4 in spring 2002, which was the start of its major adoption. Apple included it in iMacs from Fall 2003, so they were barely a year and a half behind).
OK, one can only hope that Macs get Intel's Ivy Bridge USB 3.0 late this year then, instead of a year and a half later... in 2014.

There wouldn't be much reason to exclude it, since it's integrated into the chipset (unlike Thunderbolt).
 
P Jan 10, 2012 05:53 AM
The point is this: You can always add bandwidth to a system (by making more parallel connections), but you can never improve latency by adding something. The best USB 3.0 can do is add less latency than USB 2.0, while Thunderbolt can be lower latency than SATA. I don't want Thunderbolt to replace USB, I want it to replace SATA and take a crack at the entire conecpt of PCIe slots.. Sure USB 3.0 is an improvement over 2.0 (the bigger power supply is a great move if nothing else) - I just don't see it as important. It doesn't let me do something I can't do today.
 
Eug Jan 10, 2012 10:46 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4141560)
The point is this: You can always add bandwidth to a system (by making more parallel connections), but you can never improve latency by adding something. The best USB 3.0 can do is add less latency than USB 2.0, while Thunderbolt can be lower latency than SATA. I don't want Thunderbolt to replace USB, I want it to replace SATA and take a crack at the entire conecpt of PCIe slots.. Sure USB 3.0 is an improvement over 2.0 (the bigger power supply is a great move if nothing else) - I just don't see it as important. It doesn't let me do something I can't do today.
I'd say USB 3 is one of the biggest upgrades in computer tech in years, on par with the upgrade of WiFi from 802.11b to 802.11g. Yeah, they're both WiFi, but the performance increase is huge.

Thunderbolt sounds great, but the jury is still out on its adoption, esp. since we know Intel has decided not to include it in its chipsets, and since it's so damn expensive. Hell, even a single Thunderbolt cable is 50 bucks. Meanwhile, USB 3.0 cables are less than $10, as there is no active circuitry in them.

Don't get me wrong... I don't want Thunderbolt to fail. However, I'd like to see it succeed on its own merits, rather than have Apple hold back on USB 3.0 to push Thunderbolt. My ideal machine would have BOTH Thunderbolt and USB 3. The fact that you can't spec a $2500 iMac with USB 3 in 2012 is just ludicrous.
 
Waragainstsleep Jan 10, 2012 12:25 PM
USB 3.0 is nowhere near as big a deal as USB 2.0 was.

The simple fact is that it is merely a little bit more convenient than USB 2.0 because it will save the average user a few seconds here or there shifting data around the place. File sizes haven't increased enough that the USB 3.0 speeds are a long overdue necessity like USB 2.0 was. The time it takes to fill your iPod over USB 2.0 is still acceptable, since you don't tend to completely empty it and refill it very often, its usually a one-shot deal.

Moving a 2GB file over USB 1.1 was all but pointless. Moving a 200GB file over USB 2.0 takes a few hours but how often does anyone do this at home? People move their music around, they move their movies around, thats about it. Professionals have superior options and superior funds to pay for them, just as they always have.
 
Eug Jan 10, 2012 12:32 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep (Post 4141604)
USB 3.0 is nowhere near as big a deal as USB 2.0 was.

The simple fact is that it is merely a little bit more convenient than USB 2.0 because it will save the average user a few seconds here or there shifting data around the place. File sizes haven't increased enough that the USB 3.0 speeds are a long overdue necessity like USB 2.0 was. The time it takes to fill your iPod over USB 2.0 is still acceptable, since you don't tend to completely empty it and refill it very often, its usually a one-shot deal.

Moving a 2GB file over USB 1.1 was all but pointless. Moving a 200GB file over USB 2.0 takes a few hours but how often does anyone do this at home? People move their music around, they move their movies around, thats about it. Professionals have superior options and superior funds to pay for them, just as they always have.
I move large video files all the time. It's quite slow on USB 2, and no, I'm not a professional video editor or anything. Furthermore, booting off USB 2 is slow too. USB 3.0 removes these bottlenecks which means the drives are now the bottleneck, not the interface. USB 2 is huge bottleneck with modern hardware.

Yes, going from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0 was a very big deal, and a bigger deal than going from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. However, USB 3.0 is still a big deal. It gets much faster than FW 800 speeds, for lower cost and higher availability.

So, personally I don't think it's a very good idea in 2012 to buy a high dollar Mac without USB 3, unless you plan on only keeping it a year or something.

If Thunderbolt had some real uptake and better pricing, I might sing a different tune, but it doesn't. $50 for just a friggin' cable is total joke, and it's not as if you can even plug that cable into much out there.
 
derektom Mar 28, 2012 12:43 PM
I fully agree with Eug...

USB 3.0 is at least as fast as FireWire 800 (WAY faster than USB 2.0) but external drives with USB 3.0 cost US$60 less than equivalent drives with FireWire 800 (e.g. Seagate GoFlex).

If you deal with large 1GB+ files or even for backups or updating your backup, USB 3.0 saves you many hours of copy time each week compared with USB 2.0. 720p movie files are close to 5GB and 1080p movie files are 10-12GB so when dealing with such large files the time savings is massive.
 
Spheric Harlot Mar 28, 2012 12:56 PM
Never mind
 
franharris89 Apr 4, 2012 01:09 PM
Usb 3.0, really worth waiting for? How much time do I really spend waiting for file transfer from flash drives, maybe 5 minutes a week.

I do like the Thunderbolt product, but $300 seems a little much for it. Are there any similar devices that are cheeper?
 
Eug Apr 7, 2012 12:53 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by franharris89 (Post 4160280)
Usb 3.0, really worth waiting for? How much time do I really spend waiting for file transfer from flash drives, maybe 5 minutes a week.

I do like the Thunderbolt product, but $300 seems a little much for it. Are there any similar devices that are cheeper?
Yes, USB 3 really is worth waiting for, esp. considering Macs with it should be out this year. (The Intel chipsets new Macs will sport in 2012 will come with integrated USB 3 support included for free.)

BTW, Lacie is now shipping a Thunderbolt to eSATA adapter. Too bad it's $200. No thanks.

http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/05/l...erbolt-series/
 
franharris89 Apr 30, 2012 07:23 PM
Ouch - $200 for the adapter, or $300 for Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt for sure.
 
amazing May 1, 2012 01:11 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Eug (Post 4160860)

BTW, Lacie is now shipping a Thunderbolt to eSATA adapter. Too bad it's $200. No thanks.
What have we come to when the cables/adapters to connect to a drive are more expensive than the majority of drives?

As you say: no thanks!
 
amazing May 1, 2012 01:31 PM
Here's a post that has a wonderfully sarcastic title:

Thunderbolt cables prove expensive to make cheaply | Apple - CNET News
 
amazing May 3, 2012 06:03 PM
So here's a performance review of the Sonnet Echo, a thunderbolt expresscard adapter:

Benchmarking the Sonnet Echo ExpressCard Thunderbolt Adapter | Quick Look Review | The Mac Observer

and it's fast, though I still want to see the stats for the reviewer's firewire compactflash reader (which was dead and will be added later.)

The price is also staggering:

"Users wishing to go this route must acquire three items: the Echo ($170), a CompactFlash ExpressCard Adapter ($100), and a Thunderbolt Cable ($50). That’s a total of $320 before tax and shipping; definitely a steep price for 10 minutes of time. "
 
Eug Jul 4, 2012 11:25 AM
So, I just stuck a $35 USB 3.0 adapter into my slim Win 7 PC at home. If I choose to, I can do the same for my Win XP computer at work since XP SP3 is supported with this D-Link USB3.0 PCIe adapter. All of my external drives, etc. from now on will be USB 3.0. There basically is no incentive for me whatsoever to get anything Thunderbolt at this point.

Quote, Originally Posted by amazing (Post 4166456)
So here's a performance review of the Sonnet Echo, a thunderbolt expresscard adapter:

Benchmarking the Sonnet Echo ExpressCard Thunderbolt Adapter | Quick Look Review | The Mac Observer

and it's fast, though I still want to see the stats for the reviewer's firewire compactflash reader (which was dead and will be added later.)
Here is my blog post about my FW 800 CompactFlash reader.

USB 2.0: 104.3 s or 35.8 MB/s (34.1 MiB/s), 286 Mbps
FW400: 93.5 s or 39.9 MB/s (38.1 MiB/s), 320 Mbps
FW800: 43.4 s or 86.0 MB/s (82.1 MiB/s), 688 Mbps


Note that I got 86 MB/s, whereas they got well under 80 MB/s. However, their flash might be limiting things. Then again, my post, flash card, and FW800 reader are three years old. Meanwhile, people are getting 129 MB/s from USB 3 CompactFlash readers with more recent flash memory.
 
P Jul 4, 2012 11:57 AM
USB 2.0 had many problems as a storage interface. USB 3.0 fixes one of them - dedicated channels for each transfer direction means that the latency drops - but it seems that it also adds two options to fix the most glaring problems remaining. Tom's has a good rundown (warning: annoying in-window pop-up) of the issue. Long story short is that the lack of native queuing kills random access performance, but when UASP works (it is currently not supported by any shipping operating system, and support from devices and controllers is spotty), USB is basically up to Firewire as a storage protocol. Which is nice, I guess, although about a decade too late.

It is still not meaningful to compare it to Thunderbolt.
 
Eug Jul 4, 2012 12:44 PM
In the real world, Thunderbolt is turning out to be almost irrelevant at worst, and very niche at best, whereas USB 3.0 is becoming ubiquitous. USB 3.0 may have its issues, but being outrageously expensive isn't one of them. And it's not like TB implementations are perfect either. It's starting to look like TB will really only replace FireWire in practical usage. Heck, even Apple is shipping HDMI endowed MacBook Pros now.
 
Spheric Harlot Jul 4, 2012 12:51 PM
It's replacing FireWire and PCMCIA/ExpressCard.

Which is fine.
 
P Jul 4, 2012 05:18 PM
The most important thing is that it ADDS something that wasn't there before. You can do things with Thunderbolt that previously required a PCI card, which has all sorts of limitations on its own (size, power reqs, harder to install). It really sounds like USB 3.0 UASP is going to make USB an OK storage solution, after all these years. Great! Doesn't diminish the value of Thunderbolt one iota. Thunderbolt would never have replaced USB 2.0 even if USB 3.0 had not arrived - it would always be too expensive.

I wonder if Intel is working on SSDs with TB connections. They do make PCIe models, should be easy enough. Include a couple of internal TB ports and we can finally start putting SATA to rest as well.
 
Eug Jul 4, 2012 05:42 PM
SATA is not going away any time soon. Quite frankly I don't think there is much of a market for dedicated TB drives, and there won't be for a long time to come either. SATA is dirt cheap, and it's a lot easier to just make SATA drives and let 3rd parties make SATA -> TB enclosures for them. Furthermore, the SATA cables cost pennies.

If Intel does make pure TB drives, they will be as uncommon and uber-expensive as their PCIe drives, which to most of the real world are largely irrelevant. Another very niche product.
 
P Jul 6, 2012 01:17 AM
I don't think SATA is going away either, I just wish it would. Right now the SSD controller has to work very hard to trick the SATA controller chip that there really is a spinning disk behind all that. One could remove one controller and drastically simplify another if one could get rid of SATA. This should make the entire solution cheaper and faster, but the simple fact that it's fast of course makes it a pro solution (PCIe) and thereby expensive.

TB cables are expensive right now because they rely on a non-standard process for the chips, but there is some light on the horizon for that.

 
Eug Jul 6, 2012 06:17 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by P (Post 4176137)
I don't think SATA is going away either, I just wish it would. Right now the SSD controller has to work very hard to trick the SATA controller chip that there really is a spinning disk behind all that. One could remove one controller and drastically simplify another if one could get rid of SATA. This should make the entire solution cheaper and faster, but the simple fact that it's fast of course makes it a pro solution (PCIe) and thereby expensive.
Ironically, "native" USB 3.0 drives exist. Well, "native" only in the sense that the only interface on it is a USB 3.0 interface. It's not a SATA interface with a separate USB 3.0 daughter board.

http://forum-images.macnn.com/import/image_160034.jpg
 
P Jul 6, 2012 08:36 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Eug (Post 4176195)

Ironically, "native" USB 3.0 drives exist. Well, "native" only in the sense that the only interface on it is a USB 3.0 interface. It's not a SATA interface with a separate USB 3.0 daughter board.

If said drives uses UASP, that's basically an SAS drive with a different port.
 
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