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The future of thunderbolt / USB-C / USB 3.1

Discussion in 'Backline' started by LeSedna, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    Hello guys,

    If you haven't followed much the techs news recently, apple is slowly shifting towards using conventional USB connectors, and the rest of the industry is preparing to use USB-C connectors compatible with USB3.1 and future updates. Basically that's a similar thing to the Lightning connector as it is reversible and tinier and allows for more things to pass through, but as a standard universally adopted. As of now though, thunderbolt 2 and soon 3 are way superior. A big, big feature of thunderbolt is the ability to chain devices by design, which makes it SUPER handy for setting up a station with everything you own in a single cable, being a laptop user this is pure practicality. I go home, plug, and I'm now on a desktop station and everything turns ON automatically, and are all powered. I can't do that without a complex setup in USB. For any desktop user, it also means not having a shitload of cables going on, as you can just chain things up and keep your desk neat. Not to mention it's fast enough for the fastest SSD on the market.

    EDIT : forgot to mention an important point especially in audio : TB basically means direct to the PCIe bus, so a thunderbolt interface can offer PCIe grade latency, like I believe 1 or 2ms latency without any special CPU overload nor drop/click.

    I am wondering what it will mean for future Mac interfaces. Right now, I have a thunderbolt rig set up, and I was considering the apogee ensemble as the center of my setup, being a thunderbolt interface so it integrates perfectly.

    However I am wondering if this is yet another connector created and abandoned too soon by apple, and these kind of interfaces are too expensive to not be sure I will use it for a decade at least.

    There is if I am not mistaken, a distinction to make between the connector, USB-C, and the port, usb3.1, or thunderbolt. My guess is, Apple could shift to USB-c pined thunderbolt bridges. In this case a simple adapter will always exist and will virtually not change anything to the rig anyone could set up right now. But if the thunderbolt protocol will disappear for the usb3.1 or updates, that means an adapter from one protocol to another and I usually don't like the idea. In this case maybe I will simply loose all the chainability and power age feature. It hasn't always been stable in the past to patch up like that between protocols if they have radically different designs

    Anyone's knows anything useful to predict what protocol to expect for interfaces in the next few years ?
     
  2. JeffTD

    JeffTD Senhor Testiculo

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    Thunderbolt 3 will use the USB-C form factor; devices can have a single USB-C port, and as long as it has TB3 support it will be stupid powerful and really versatile all while using one standard port. As a result, in the future, USB-C to Thunderbolt style adapters will be available and work (they aren't/don't now).

    https://thunderbolttechnology.net/blog/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-does-it-all


    USB-C is just a connector that right now can only use the USB 3.1 specification, not unsimilar to how Thunderbolt is both a port that can handle a ton of other specifications and a specification in and of itself. Eventually, the USB-C connector will support the TB specification as well as the USB 3.1 specification.

    TB has always been backwards compatible so far, and I don't see that changing; I think that'll mean we can use all of our current USB/Thunderbolt devices and interfaces with no problems through a USB-C port once it supports the TB spec, and interface ports won't matter as much.

    Eventually, interfaces will move to accept USB-C as a port regardless of what specification they're utilizing (USB 3.1 is rated at 10gbps, TB2 is at 20, TB3 is at 40.

    Here's another good article on the TB3 -> USB-C thing: http://www.macrumors.com/2015/06/02/intel-thunderbolt-3-usb-c-displayport-1-2/
     
  3. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    I didn't know TB3 was de facto going to be a type C connector. If I understand Intel correctly, TB3 will basically be the perfect port, or moreso the duo typeC/TB3. Glad to see the idea is to cover both standards and even other protocols. That means the only need will be that the first connector from the chain is a type C so I expect cables type C -> TB2 to just do the trick.

    Interestingly enough I have read TB3 allows for passive cables up to a reduced bandwidth. That will make it possible to use cheap TB cables for non demanding situations.

    Now that just confirms its the worst moment to upgrade an apple computer as Skylake is due to arrive, not to mention the ridiculous eurodollar conversion prices at the moment !

    EDIT : after reading the full specifications of TB3, I realized something even better : future TB docks will probably feature a 100W (or say 50W) power section so that the one cable connected to the laptop will also be the one charging it. For someone super mobile like me, the idea of not having to plug my mobile charger at home to dock my laptop is actually a nice ergonomic improvement. The idea of say a dekstop PC powering the external devices like a couple HDD and interface without the need to plug them to their chargers would be pretty sweet as well.

    A late 2015/2016 Skylake MacBook Pro retina with type C TB3 ports would be fantastic.

    EDIT2 : didn't realize there were so many new TB interfaces since I last checked : https://m.thomann.de/fr/interfaces_thunderbolt.html
     

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