back to article Acer silences Thunderbolt

Intel's Thunderbolt I/O protocol looks just a little less likely to threaten USB's status as the world's preferred way of connecting stuff to computers, after Acer decided it can't be bothered using it in PCs any more. The Taiwanese company, which is clinging on as the world's fourth most-prolific PC-pusher, last week slipped …

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  1. Byz

    PC sales are falling quarter on quarter (as you have reported before) so this is probably going to be irrelevant.

    Also as most PC manufacturers try to build and sell cheap (as there no longer seems to be a market for high end PCs) so thunderbolt is an added expense.

    I use both thunderbolt andUSB3 a pure thunderbolt drive is much faster (sometimes you get a USB3 masquerading as a thunderbolt and you really notice).

    However later this year thunderbolt 2 comes out and that will be twice as fast as thunderbolt, so amongst those who edit video this will be the device of choice.

    So in the end those who need it will get it and everyone on a budget will be stuck in the slow lane :o

    1. Homer 1
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: "Everyone on a budget"

      It's not about budgets. People will happily spend 500 quid on a smartphone, and yet ignore a far more powerful PC at less than half that price.

      People have just completely lost interest in PCs, it's as simple as that, so any technology that's designed purely for PCs is as dead as the PC itself.

      1. Jan 0
        FAIL

        Re: "Everyone on a budget"

        > It's not about budgets. People will happily spend 500 quid on a smartphone, and yet ignore a far more powerful PC at less than half that price.

        Errm, but 500 quid buys you something that's nice to look at. That PC is hideous and too big to hide easily.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: "Everyone on a budget"

          I don't care if it's "ugly" if it gets the job done. A pretty thing might not even be able to do the job badly.

          Those geeky little details that are supposed to be obsolete now determine whether or not you can actually do something and how pleasant you will be while doing it.

      2. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: "Everyone on a budget"

        500 quid on a phone? You must be insane? I've never spent nearly that much. Although I admit that all of my recent phone purchases (Apple or Android) have all been subsidized.

        I would be hard pressed to spend 500 quid on a laptop.

        1. Homer 1
          Alien

          Re: "500 quid on a phone?"

          But that contract you just signed commits you to paying 500 quid anyway, albeit spread over 2 years, so one way or another you still pay 500 quid.

          I'd rather pay mine up front, and have the freedom to switch SIM cards as and when suits me, without having to "hack" my own property first. That also gives me the benefit of actually getting a signal in areas not covered by "x" network - I just swap SIMs depending on where I am at any given time. But by far the best benefit is not being enslaved by a contract that forces me to pay for a "service" I don't use every day, using PAYG SIMs that let me pay for what I use, and only what I use, if and when I use it. Yes, PAYG prices are higher, but in balance it still works out far cheaper for someone like me who rarely makes voice calls.

    2. Suricou Raven

      Mature market.

      The PC market matured. There's no more massive expansion, because everyone who needs or wants a PC now has one. There's no more upgrading, because the technology reached the point of 'good enough' around the Core 2 Duo - ancient chip now, but still quite capable not just of office work but playing games too. There will always be some sales for replacements and general economic/population growth, but the big boom is over.

      Phones and tablets are advancing fast enough to keep the upgrade demand high - the average life of a phone before replacement is still only a couple of years.

      1. Richard 81

        Re: Mature market.

        "There's no more upgrading, because the technology reached the point of 'good enough' around the Core 2 Duo - ancient chip now, but still quite capable not just of office work but playing games too."

        While the console market remained static, true. As they move up the next generation though, PCs will likely be more taxed. Top gaming PCs will remain unfazed, but mid/low end systems won't be able to cut it.

        1. Jess

          but mid/low end systems won't be able to cut it.

          How can angry birds and jewel drop etc tax any remotely modern machine?

          1. Ted Treen
            Boffin

            Re: but mid/low end systems won't be able to cut it.

            @Jess (08:06)

            Bird crap in heatsinks causes CPU self-cooking...

          2. Daniel B.

            Re: but mid/low end systems won't be able to cut it.

            How can angry birds and jewel drop etc tax any remotely modern machine?

            They're talking about real games, not the stuff you play while riding the subway.

            TBH, I do like some of the casual games like Plants vs. Zombies, but the rumors of casual gaming displacing hardcore gaming are way too exaggerated. There's no way the Call of Battlefield Halo crowd are going to switch to Candy Crush for all their gaming needs.

      2. lightknight

        Re: Mature market.

        Yes, the PC market matured, in much the same way as the Video Game market matured during the '80s. Everyone can remember that bloodbath that video game manufacturers took then...only to find themselves sitting pretty in the '90s / '00s.

        Let's do a little analysis of the PC market before we declare it dead, shall we? The PC, in all of its form factors, is used for Accounting, Engineering, Graphic Art, Word Processing, Databases, Computer Aided Design, Video Game Design, Programming, Math, Entertainment, and so on. No other device on the market is as versatile as the PC...it can do everything, and it can do it well, provided you do not cheap out on the hardware or software. In essence, it's highly adaptable, perhaps a magnitude or so away from human beings themselves in terms of adaptability (for now)...and that tells us one thing -> before the PC is going to 'die,' all of its less capable, stripped down variants will go first. It's not the omnivores that go first, it's the species that have stringent needs / demands that can only be met under certain conditions. As such....I do not see Smart TVs dying out, nor do I see the web-enabled consoles found in cars these days near extinction either, nor do I see smart phones suddenly being replaced with a pair of tin cans and some string. Verdict? The PC is versatile, adaptable, and unlikely to die any time soon.

        So what's really driving all these proclamations of death of the PC? An excellent question, and I do not have the answer. Why are PC sales down? Does everyone who needs one have one? Impossible, most of the undeveloped world has yet to be fully tapped. As for the developed world, the upgrade cycles as well as new people being born ensures that new PCs will be continuously acquired, provided we do not suddenly revert to an agrarian society. What are the likely suspects? Well, let's see here...Windows 8, which manufacturers were banking on, has not exactly wow'ed people into buying new hardware; additionally, the global malaise of a malfunctioning economy is making people focus more and more on cutting costs / corners...as such, the upgrade cycle may be lengthening.

        1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

          Re: Mature market.

          "So what's really driving all these proclamations of death of the PC? Why are PC sales down?"

          In short: Windows 8. This is a product you either love or hate. Despite what the people who love Windows 8 say, the majority hate it. It is fine on a tablet or convertible laptop, but not on a regular laptop or desktop. I promise you this: If Windows 7 was still sold in the stores you would see a huge uptick in PC sales. I helped someone order a new HP laptop. The salesman said over the phone that there was a 2 week delay on that Windows 7 model due to high demand. 3 weeks later, her laptop arrived. Windows 8 is the reason PC sales are down. And Microsoft is too stubborn to admit that different tools have different purposes and too greedy to let other companies make money a different way than themselves.

        2. Homer 1
          Headmaster

          Re: "So what's really driving all these proclamations of death of the PC?"

          Well, let's see, why might people be glad to see the death of the PC?

          The fact that people are sick to death of Windows, decades of OEMs stubbornly refusing to offer alternatives to Windows, and Microsoft's little racketeering "channel" that maintained this status quo, combined with the tremendous relief that finally someone (Google) found a way of sneakily circumventing that racket by the only means possible, by shifting the public to Windows-incompatible hardware, rather than pointlessly trying to convince Microsoft's "partners" to offer something besides Windows on PCs.

          And I'm afraid your analysis misses two rather crucial points: regardless of how many use-cases there are for PCs, the fact remains people are increasingly not buying them, whether you think they ought to or not. And companies don't survive on previously sold products, they need to keep selling them - today and in the future, so the fact that there are millions of PCs "out there" is moot. I still have a Sinclair Spectrum in my attic, but that inconsequential fact doesn't put any money in Clive Sinclair's pocket, nor does it support a thriving ecosystem for that platform.

          So yes, there are still a lot of people using PCs, in the same way as there were still a lot of people using Amigas in the mid 1990s, long after the platform was essentially dead, and long after people had stopped buying them or anything connected with them.

          Of course, eventually even Speccy and Amiga die-hards had to accept reality.

        3. danbi

          Re: Mature market.

          What "kills" the PC? Very simple: the excessive expectations to sell more and more PCs. Microsoft (and Intel) promised OEMs that they will sell more and more PCs. Naturally, when this does not happen, those who took the financial risk (the OEMs) go back, some bankrupt.

          The PC is not going anywhere, most PC makers are. Who cares?

  2. LarsG

    Makes no difference

    The average man in the street is quite happy with his 3 year old PC that does everything that is needed. Few people need such high speed transfer rates, are happy with USB 2 and there is nothing innovative enough or must have to upgrade.

    The consumer is much wiser to the fact that new and 'upgraded' PCs are just smoke and mirrors.

    I have a first generation retina screen iPad, I see no reason to upgrade until it stops working. I mean why upgrade for a new socket, slightly faster processor and fractionally less heavy new one when it does everything I want of it.

    1. NogginTheNog
      Thumb Down

      Re: Makes no difference

      "are happy with USB 2"

      Are you sure about that?? Have you tried moving around a few hundred gigs of data over USB2 any time recently??

      The faster interfaces are primarily needed to keep up with the ever expanding size of hard drives.

      1. LarsG

        Re: Makes no difference

        From a personal point of view, I have a MacBook Pro and Dell XPS, while I have USB 3 on the Mac and USB 2 on the Dell. I've never had an issue with waiting a couple of minutes longer and it gives me time to put the kettle on.

        The average user doesn't move hundreds of Gb of data, maybe a few photos, video, music here and there perhaps but that's about all. I wouldn't buy a new computer, spend £500 just to have a couple of USB 3 sockets and then have to upgrade my USB 2 memory sticks or back up hard drives or buy new caddies for my old hard drives.

        1. Ian Yates
          Stop

          Re: Makes no difference

          The average user is using such cheap, slow SD cards that the spec of their PC and data bus are the least important things of concern.

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: Makes no difference

        "Are you sure about that?? Have you tried moving around a few hundred gigs of data over USB2 any time recently??"

        How often does the average person do that? Maybe a couple of times a year to back up the family videos*. The only people who routinly shift such large amounts are pirates and professionals in a few data-heavy fields.

        *Hah. The average person doesn't make shif backups anyway.

      3. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Makes no difference

        > Are you sure about that?? Have you tried moving around a few hundred gigs of data over USB2 any time recently??

        Yes. I do it all the time actually. Although I will be man enough to admit that I'm probably in the minority.

        The thing here is that people usually aren't sitting and waiting for such a transfer to complete. This is something they will leave to finish or something that they will ingore while they are doing something else with their computer. Perhaps you have heard of this thing called MULTI-TASKING.

        It's far more important that your task can finish without babysitting and not negatively impact the performance of everything else running on the machine. It's far more important that a 200G file transfer doesn't crater performance for the other apps you're using.

        Mazerati speed fixations aren't really that relevant.

  3. wowfood

    I think part of the problem aswell for non-mac users is the avaliability of devices which use the technology. There aren't that many.

    There are a fiar few for mac, and I can see mac sticking with it because well, they're apple, they like being different. but why should I buy an expensive thunderbolt device when all my mice / usb sticks / microphones / speakers / portable disk drives / lots of other bits already make use of USB.

    I think if they'd first focused on a niche where thunderbolt is clearly a winner (portable disk drives perhaps) and then worked on pushing outwards they might have had more success.

    But hunderbolt just hasn't had that much of a push outside apple. Apple launched thunderbolt with very few thiings making use of it, but they touted claims of how superior it was. PC on the otherhand has just kind've jumped on board. "Oh yeah, we have thunderbolt also, so y'know if you wanna use a few of the mac bits here go for it." and then left it.

    I guess what I'm saying is Thunderbolt was more a markettting failure than technological.

    1. Byz

      Backups

      Where you really see the difference is when you backup your hard drive or do video processing if that is no a concern then USB2 is fine :)

      1. Mark 65

        Re: Backups

        Having just backed up data to a USB3 portable drive using rsync from a 2010 iMac (USB2 only) I can vouch for how much of a pain in the arse the older standard is when backing up. I'm looking forward to the day when my machines have USB3 / thunderbolt especially after reading the Macbook Air review where 50+GB transited in a little over 2 minutes.

        The question I have is "does USB3 experience the slowdowns of USB2 in the real world when performing this sort of task (backing up rather than rsync per se)?"

        USB2 just slows to a crawl as time goes on.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Backups

          If you're using Thunderbolt to connect a $6,000 Red video card to your Macbook, then a $30 cable isn't that much. But yeah, far from mainstream.

          Sony's take on it was a very thin n' light VAIO Z laptop with an external Radeon dock... again, far too pricey to be mainstream.

          1. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: Backups

            >far too pricey to be mainstream.

            And herein lies the problem.

            Vendors are far too intent on segmenting the market and extracting maximum revenue from cashed-up mac users. The *devices* are too expensive, forget the cables. a dual-disk sata external box should be case+price of sata 2-port card.+ a bit for thunderbolt - but with the electronics in the cable, the box should be cheap. Marking up the box by $240 isn't on.

            I don't understand why laptop manufacturers don't do a full external PCIe dock, so I can hook up my quad i7 to a proper graphics card and monitor. I don't know if you can tie multiple thunderbolt ports together - a straight external PCIe would be fine. 20+ external pcie lanes seems like a a massive winner to me. Most people don't need more than integrated graphics on the move, but a high-end i7 might be more useful if I can use the system for gaming too. i7 and rubbish graphics is such a disappointment.

      2. Green Nigel
        Meh

        Re: Backups

        eSata has served me well for backups & large file transfers. Unless there is an urgent need I will not be aquiring a no faster & much more expensive Thunderbolt connection.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I guess what I'm saying is Thunderbolt was more a markettting failure than technological.

      I suspect it's more along the lines that Intel wanted to charge money for the chipset on both ends of the wire, whereas USB3 is generally free to implement. That's a guess though ...

      Unless you are consistently pushing high bandwidth why take the financial hit? Almost no users I know do video editing or who HDD backups from their home PC.

      1. Byz
        FAIL

        If they don't back their disks they are going to spend a long time rebuilding it when the disk goes bang, I know this from personal experience (many years ago). On windows XP this on average happens after 2 years when NTFS corrupts itself :(

        1. Darren Barratt
          Happy

          I always assumed that that was a feature in XP, as it would have slowed to the point of uselessness by then anyway.

    3. Flatpackhamster

      Marketing failure, or price?

      I think the latter. Crazy costs for cables (£25+), crazy costs for the devices. Yes, it's a clever socket. But it's too expensive.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook are a disincentive to buying one, for me. There have always been to few USB ports--2 is a joke, especially when they are a mm apart. Why must they waste precious cabinet space on a near-proprietary boondoggle I will likely never use? It is almost insulting.

  4. Arctic fox

    "I guess what I'm saying is Thunderbolt was more a markettting failure than technological"

    Agreed. It is of course not the first time - Betamax versus VHS comes to mind.

    1. Mark Broadhurst
      Flame

      Re: "I guess what I'm saying is Thunderbolt was more a markettting failure than technological"

      I think of thunderbolt as the new firewire.

      Techincally superior but will be beaten by USB because of propitiatory bullshit.

      Just like its grandfather.

  5. Chris Beach

    Pity

    Pity as Acer make some decent laptops and thunderbolt as a single docking station connection is something USB3 can't do anywhere near as well.

    As for storage not sure, how does it compare to eSata?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pity

      I agree that Thunderbolt would be useful--for adding more USB ports to a MacBook! Apple and Intel must both hope for better than that.

  6. ChrisCabbage

    I'll probably have a short / medium term use for Thunderbolt

    I have a considerable investment in PCIe audio cards. Enough to make a PCIe extender over Thunderbolt worthwhile if I go the laptop or iMac route..

    The vast majority of people probably won't have a need, but there's definitely a niche for some of us.

  7. Jess

    Acer

    I still have very bad memories of problems caused by Acer (bad enough that after 8 years I'll not recommend them or go near them), so the fact that they aren't supporting it is irrelevant to me.

    (I suppose the relevance of it to others may be relevant to me, but don't others have similar off-putting experiences with Acer)

    1. Jess

      Re: Acer

      Interesting 1 thumbs up 5 thumbs down about my feelings for Acer. Is that 5 happy customers for every one unhappy customer? (Or should I include myself?) Be interesting to see how this pans out.

      1. Martin 71 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Acer

        I think manufacturers often forget the 'knock on effect' of one bad experience. If that one person happens to be head of IT procurement, or even the overtaxed geek 30 or 40 people come to for PC advice, then one bad experience *COUGH MAXTOR* will cause loss of sales out of all proportion to what not trying to charge ME money to RMA a faulty drive would've cost ...

    2. Daniel B.

      Re: Acer

      My last Acer laptop is a huge (dis)incentive for not buying another Acer lappy ever. And that was two years ago.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back in the day

    its a bit like USB and Firewire, firewire might have been faster etc but it never really caught on beyond a niche market in graphical intensive sectors. We had a load of DELL Precision Workstations 530's in use with our Modellers they had built in firewire ports, can't think of anyone who used them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: back in the day

      " firewire might have been faster etc but it never really caught on beyond a niche market"

      Steve Jobs wanted an exorbitant royalty per port for giving PC makers the privilege to incorporate FireWire in their products. That was the actual impetus leading to the development of USB. Had it not been for that, then FireWire and FireWire devices would have been far more common.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: back in the day

        Per CNET, Apple wanted $1/port circa 1999. Licensing is now handled by everyone's other favourite, the MPEG LA, seemingly for more like $0.25/device but I can't find any confirmation of when it was handed over and therefore when prices became more reasonable.

        AnandTech reports that there's no per-port fee for Thunderbolt so it looks like the cost is just whatever the actual chips cost from Intel.

        So a fairly obvious prediction: Thunderbolt will take off if and when Intel incorporates it with whatever other silicon so that they're offering it for free if you buy whatever the modern equivalent of a centrino is.

  9. moonpunk

    Intel have crippled themselves!

    The reason why so many OEM's are not supporting Intel's Thunderbolt is because there is a mandatory requirement to deliver Video through it!

    I firmly believe that if Intel relaxed this requirement, and under the terms of it's license allowed manufacturers to deliver everything but Video, then there would be a wider adoption of the technology.

    Because OEM's are not delivering Thunderbolt, then Thunderbolt devices are few and far between - it's a real catch-22.

    Until Intel relax this mandatory requirement then USB 3.0 will continue to win through. Thunderbolt is a great technology - but Intel have crippled it with stupid rules!

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Intel have crippled themselves!

      I wasn't aware of this. Does that mean that the new MacBasic with it's 12 TB ports will actually support 12 monitors out of the box? (note that I am not being sarcastic - it is a serious question)

      1. moonpunk
        Happy

        Re: Intel have crippled themselves!

        Good question - I understood that a single TB port on an iMac supported up to 2 TB displays. So following your logic the new (and very sexy) Mac Pro with 12 TB ports should support 24 TB displays??

        Now wouldn't that be something?!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scanner

    I'm wondering if it is possible to build a USB3 to Thunderbolt adaptor.

    I was looking for a scanner with a Thunderbolt interface to no avail. My Mac only supports USB2.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: Scanner

      If you mean that you want a TB to USB3 adaptor, then they exist. However you will pay for it and it's cable until you bleed (think about the same price as a top-end Epson flat-bed scanner).

      Also you will really struggle to find one with an onwards port so that you can still plug in an external monitor - and for me that is the killer. Having to unplug the monitor to use a docking station is just fscking stupid.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scanner

      You can get a Belkin (?) port replicator now. Unfortunately, it cost more than most consumer scanners, last I knew, and as much as many PCs. $300 US, I think? I'm too lazy to check.

    3. Len
      Meh

      Re: Scanner

      It is definitely possible. There are adapters such as TB to gigabit ethernet and TB to Firewire 800 so a TB to USB3 should technically be possible.

      The obstacle is likely not a technological but an economical one. Considering most (or all?) computers with Thunderbolt ports will also feature USB3 ports the market for these devices would be very small. Probably too small for manufacturers to consider.

      The only solution would be to get one of those Thunderbolt docking stations which just throw in USB 3 as one of the ports they replicate. Not worth it if you only want if for USB as you'd be paying for heaps of ports you don't use...

  11. Len
    Stop

    Makes sense

    It makes perfect sense. Thunderbolt's qualities lie in low-latency, high-bandwidth and low-overhead data transfer. This matters to professionals for whom a tenner for a TB controller is barely noticeable in the 900 hundred quid they spent on their video editing device. It is worth it for them, not worth it for basic consumers for whom USB is good enough.

    Considering Acer does not target video editing pros, people who need a 6TB Raid storage or people who need to connect three 4K displays to their machine it was always a weird connector to add to their machines.

  12. NogginTheNog

    Oh no!

    It's USB vs Firewire all over again :-(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USB:Thunderbolt -> HHGTTG:Encyclopædia Galactica

    Never underestimate the power of being slightly cheaper than the other guy, even if you do have your flaws.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: USB:Thunderbolt -> HHGTTG:Encyclopædia Galactica

      > Never underestimate the power of being slightly cheaper

      Except it's not slight. It's more like an order of magnitude.

  14. Copperknickers

    I suppose I'm an even less interesting customer for Mac with my old PPC Tiger machines and F/W connections. In my opinion there has never been a better system than Tiger, especially as it lets me use System 9 apps. I also have a Mac Mini on Mountain Lyon - much slower bossy bloatware system nowhere near as good as Tiger. But it does have a Thunderbolt port for what that's worth and that's the main reason I bought it, although I've not used it yet - we'll see...

  15. Leedos

    I like thunderbolt on the Mac.

    The major problem is with PC's and BIOS / Windows. You can't hot plug a Thunderbolt device into a PC. You have to reboot for it to work. Intel should have worked out a solution for this. I can hotplug my thunderbolt to gigabit Ethernet adapter into my MacBook Air running OSX and it works as you'd expect. Running Windows with BootCamp and you need to reboot to get it to work on the same hardware. Please fix.

  16. Andrew Hodgkinson

    Bad marketing - it's not understood

    Thunderbolt is PCIe over a cable. Your internal expansion cards are now external. Enclosures exist that let you plug in whatever cards you like, even if you have no expansion inside your actual computer. So your laptop dock just allowed you to have a full spec desktop while docked, complete with powerful (but external, now) graphics card, arbitrary drives, monitors, other expansion ports and so-on.

    USB 3 is a completely different technology, a distinct bus/interface, compatible only with itself, with huge piles of driver software layers implementing both the USB 3 and older parts of a standard that was a bit of a creaking mess even back when USB 2 was added. All these years later, there's a good reason vendors are moving to things like SPI to connect internal low bandwidth interfaces rather than dangling them off USB - it's just too slow and software-heavy, even for USB 1. Things got a lot worse when USB replaced PS/2 for those devices, and now, finally, SPI sorts that out.

    So what of Thunderbolt? Why is it so rare? The one obvious area where Thunderbolt fails technically is the hugely expensive active cables. Even if they were cheap, active cables are an obvious point for things to fail (and fail badly). But even putting that aside, Intel and Apple decided to push the technology via transfer speeds - a peeing contest. Rather than just say "It's way faster than USB 3" and *then* focus on all the unique and really interesting aspects, they just said "It's way faster than USB 3" and pretty much stopped there. Customers are left in the dark. From their perspective, it's just a funny looking port that has really expensive peripherals. The genuinely remarkable opportunities it offers for new form factors - a much better approach for a hybrid desktop->laptop->tablet kind of affair for example - have been overlooked.

    Net result: Very little uptake, no economies of scale, specialist peripheral vendors only, extortionate prices.

    The forthcoming updated Mac Pro shows what can be done, but I fear too little, too late and too specialised. I'd love to upgrade my now very old Mac Pro with the new machine, but even if I can afford the base unit, I almost certainly cannot afford the peripherals I'll need for the expansion cards and drives I'd need to carry over.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Bad marketing - it's not understood

      From the point of view of an end user, USB and Thunderbolt are exactly the same. Both allow you to connect storage devices. Both allow you to connect expansion "cards" like audio or networking. Both support docking stations.

      They're both a bus and each one of them requires an extra set of drivers for devices plugged into that bus. You are going to need a NIC driver regardless of whether or not you're plugging it into a slot on your motherboard or a cable plugged into the back of your PC.

      One seems to be mostly only available from Apple and the other is pretty much available with any new PC.

      Even if you wanted to seek out a PC thunderbolt solution, you would be hard pressed to find one. You would have to buy or build an entirely new machine in order to get it. This is in stark contrast to USB3 where you can just get a cheap card for your current system.

      "Available everywhere" versus "looks like an Apple exclusive".

      We aren't even at the point where Thunderbolt can compete directly based on price or features.

      1. danbi

        Re: Bad marketing - it's not understood

        You do not require new drivers for Thunderbolt. Remember, Thunderbolt is just a transparent PCI-Express bus extension out of the computer case. If you have a driver for the peripheral on PCI-Express, then you already have driver for that same peripheral when moved to an external box and connected via Thunderbolt. Not so with USB or any other bus.

        I believe the true reason why Acer are abandoning Thunderbolt is that Acer are 100% dependent of how software behaves on their computers on Microsoft's Windows --- and Windows doesn't support Thunderbolt well. At least, it does not support the most obvious requirement: hot plug.

        So what could Acer do? (short of ditching Windows for their computers)

        What Apple did was very clever. They convinced Intel to turn LightPeak (great technology, that was sitting in the labs and going no where) into Thunderbolt, by combining it with DisplayPort. Same physical port, compatible signaling etc. So any Mac that has Thunderbolt, has it "transparently". It is not a separate port, it is just there, in the DisplayPort port, if you have any use for it.

        One day, you try it and wow... it works and works well. USB usually has problems, performance, reliability, compatibility...

        I believe both Apple and Acer are not happy that there are not many Thunderbolt docking stations. For Apple, they have "solved" the issue with the Thunderbolt Display, but why would Acer not build their very own Thunderbolt docking station? Ah yes... Windows doesn't support Thunderbolt hot-plug.. Sad.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: Bad marketing - it's not understood

          > You do not require new drivers for Thunderbolt. Remember, Thunderbolt is just a transparent PCI-Express bus extension out of the computer case

          YOU NEED DRIVERS.

          It doesn't matter if they are NEW or not.

          Support for some random gigabit chipset doesn't just magically pop out of the either. You need a driver that supports it. The interesting thing about USB is that it does define standard device classes and allows you to use a generic driver for that class of device.

          This concept is something that is missing from PCIe.

          You're just making the assumption that things will magically work themselves out.

          > USB usually has problems, performance, reliability, compatibility...

          No it doesn't. You're just making up self-serving nonsense.

          It's amazing how bad USB suddenly becomes when there's a new flavor of the month for Fanboys to follow. Suddenly that great thing that Apple gave to everyone is not so cool anymore. Suddenly you have to tear it down make the new shiny shiny look better.

  17. Robert Forsyth

    Thunderbolt is too big

    Thunderbolt connector is too big and has too many pins to replace USB.

    Each connection pin adds:

    cost in the materials used,

    cost to the PCB it is mounted on,

    size and hence cost of the connector shell,

    cost and flexibility of the cable, and

    point of failure.

    Also, I think they have made a mistake, it should have 4 times half-duplex lanes rather than 2 times full-duplex lanes.

    It should be marketed as best connection to the processing core for docking station use, but then everyone hates plugging things in, hassle free wireless - inductive chargers (with NFC control), multichannel Wi-Fi.

    HDMI has similar problem, but is compared to 15 pin VGA

    HDMI Type D is user unfriendly since it looks like micro USB

    What if your (smart) TV ran an X-windows server, and you send drawing commands rather than a raster? How would you connect it?

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