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Acer Dumping Thunderbolt, Sticking with USB 3.0

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a b G Storage
July 17, 2013 6:13:57 AM

Premium features = Premium price = NOT an Acer thing

How is USB3 "less expensive" - its standard in most chipsets these days?
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July 17, 2013 6:38:02 AM

Thunderbolt is definitely a premium thing at the moment. The question is, does the average consumer NEED it? In a time when computing devices are proliferating because of their low price and sacrificed function relative to desktops, a premium connectivity with that kind of bandwidth is superfluous. Who has 4K video now? A minority. For those transferring super large files it will be a godsend, but most people... USB 3.0 will be more than good enough for a while.
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July 17, 2013 6:38:51 AM

Its so logical. There are very few devices that utilize Thunderbolt's bandwidth.
Only dumb Apple users will buy that feature.
Whereas other manufacturers know that its customers are not dumb.
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a b G Storage
July 17, 2013 6:49:28 AM

Acer sees the writing on the wall. This is the same reason Firewire never caught on it started on premium systems and the peripherals all cost more. When it comes down to it the vast majority (99%+) of people care about price and don't really know or care about speed.
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July 17, 2013 7:11:52 AM

They had me at "backwards compatibility" seeing as the world+dog has USB2.0 flash drives, printers, etc - thunderbolt may be fast but it consigns my existing hardware to the bin and that won't fly with a lot of people - here's a radical idea, seeing as it is possible to have a port that is dual USB/eSATA then why don't they make Thunderbolt 2.0 connectors dual USB3.0/TB2.0 - crazy I know, but the world really doesn't need yet another plug
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July 17, 2013 7:13:40 AM

Chimera201 - Last time checked, many studios, graphic design houses, etc use Apple products for the production. Seeing the TB 2.0 will increase speeds to 20gbs will help them even more with transfer rates.

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July 17, 2013 7:26:19 AM

The only way Thunderbolt will grow is if Intel builds it into the chipset and mobo's just come with it.
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July 17, 2013 7:43:32 AM

Proprietary port is killing TB. Reminds me of esata. Really like the spec's though. My money is on USB 3.0 and beyond.
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a c 126 G Storage
July 17, 2013 7:44:17 AM

apache_lives said:
Premium features = Premium price = NOT an Acer thing

How is USB3 "less expensive" - its standard in most chipsets these days?


You just answered your own question. USB3.0 is on most modern chipsets, requiring nothing more than connectors and a bit of power circuitry on the MB. Thunderbolt requires an extra chip, supplied only by Intel.
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July 17, 2013 7:56:55 AM

This was easily foreseeable from the moment Thunderbolt was discussed. When it was first announced SSDs were still a relatively novel device, and were the only things that could take real advantage of the speed in Thunderbolt since the average mechanical drive couldn't even read/write fast enough to keep up. Even for most heavy data users the difference in speeds between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt right now is minute seconds - not enough to offset the added pain of looking for compatible devices, and the extra cost of it all. It's hard to introduce a new standard, and this one was never rolled out properly to begin with, so after giving it a couple years, it's not surprising some are jumping ship now and cutting their loses.
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July 17, 2013 8:36:09 AM

Smart move, thunderbolt and it's successor are far overpriced for what they offer (as far as what is needed) at this time.
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July 17, 2013 8:45:47 AM

I wish they would put Thunderbolt, or at least Mini Displayport on more of their premium machines. I love the Aspire S7, but I want to be able to connect to more than one external monitor, or at least one that is over 1920x1080. The fact that HDMI and USB are the only connection options are serious barriers to me getting the S7. If it had Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort, I would be 100% sure it was my next laptop. As it is now, I'm waiting for the Retina MBP refresh, and if that takes too long, it will be a hard choice between the S7 or the XPS 12
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July 17, 2013 8:53:22 AM

Thunderbolt is truly an interesting technology. However, it doesn't have the benefit of backward-compatibility on existing devices. Though this article says one of the issues with backing USB 3.0 is that most devices are still 2.0 (or older). But this doesn't matter a whole lot; devices that don't benefit from the speed (or power) improvements of 3.0 don't need to be made with 3.0--2.0 suffices. On the other hand, thunderbolt requires an entirely new and different hardware and firmware architecture to be built into devices. Most of those devices already function with USB 2.0. It's a tough argument to make as to which technology to go with.

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July 17, 2013 9:47:34 AM

Question for the room? I currently am running most of my plug-n-play drives via USB off of my iMac, but do all my audio editing/music tech stuff w/a Saffire Pro14 Interface through a Firewire connection; it's been running awesomely. I'm looking to purchase a couple of 1-2TB external drives, one of which I'd like to use as the main drive for all my audio data with the other as a backup. For the main drive, with my 2.0 USB port, would it make sense - and be faster - to purchase a 2TB unit w/3.0 capabilities? Or should I stick with Firewire? Happy to give more specs via e-mail so someone who could help. Thanks so much :-) !


P. Murray
http://twitter.com/pmurraymusic
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July 17, 2013 10:08:14 AM

Sometimes i do not understand the logic with the PC makers , in this case, Acer
How much more expensive to add Thunderbolt into Mobo? $50 dollar extra?
Please give number , because if someone pays 900 dollar notebook, will it complaint to have 50 dollar Thunderbolt?
That thunderbolt cost less than a keyboard and mouse.
This kind of reasoning why Apple will always successful and Acer, as always, behind everyone else
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July 17, 2013 10:47:10 AM

Mashuri, it matters a lot even if $50 is the figure as 95% of PCs and laptops sold are bought by people who do not and never will need TB, from the remaining people almost none need the interface as they do not have any TB peripherals and buying those also costs more money again. The rest have more money than sense.
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July 17, 2013 12:53:34 PM

bom bom bom, another apple peripheral standard bites the dust.
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July 17, 2013 2:39:56 PM

the problem here is intel licensing that sucks. also chips are overpriced for what they offer. it's a pain to license a thunderbolt product. manufacturers even plan to make things with thunderbolt and end up removing it due to intel licensing problems. acer w700 tablet was going to have thunderbolt but intel didn't allow it.
so screw it intel.

anyway this will become irrelevant when usb3.5 arrives in the end of this year with better capabilities then thunderbolt.
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July 17, 2013 7:33:40 PM

Mashuri Lambana said:
Sometimes i do not understand the logic with the PC makers , in this case, Acer
How much more expensive to add Thunderbolt into Mobo? $50 dollar extra?
Please give number , because if someone pays 900 dollar notebook, will it complaint to have 50 dollar Thunderbolt?
That thunderbolt cost less than a keyboard and mouse.
This kind of reasoning why Apple will always successful and Acer, as always, behind everyone else


The cable alone costs around $50, and probably around that much extra on a external drive w/ TB compared to one w/ USB 3.0. But that is on the end-user side. For Acer it's the cost of licensing the standard, then in the manufacturing process for incorporating it alongside other existing standards, including USB, all without cluttering the I/O area. From a simple standpoint of simplicity it's better to minimize the costs. Acer is a budget PC retailer.

By nature they strive for quality at a low price, not quality at any cost. Apple can get away with supporting something like Thunderbolt or FireWire for a long time because their market is baked in; not a lot of Apple users are going to suddenly jump ship to Windows over a single feature or cost, otherwise they wouldn't have gone with Apple in the first place. But Acer has to compete with the likes of Asus, HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc in the Windows market. It's more of a cost and a pain to stick with something like this that is struggling right now. They stand a better chance shaving a little cost and competing on cost instead of touting something the vast majority of their consumers will never use, or likely won't need for some years. Trying to also deal with a floundering PC industry, saving the likely much more than $50 makes the most sense.
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July 17, 2013 8:34:31 PM

pmurraymusic said:
Question for the room? I currently am running most of my plug-n-play drives via USB off of my iMac, but do all my audio editing/music tech stuff w/a Saffire Pro14 Interface through a Firewire connection; it's been running awesomely. I'm looking to purchase a couple of 1-2TB external drives, one of which I'd like to use as the main drive for all my audio data with the other as a backup. For the main drive, with my 2.0 USB port, would it make sense - and be faster - to purchase a 2TB unit w/3.0 capabilities? Or should I stick with Firewire? Happy to give more specs via e-mail so someone who could help. Thanks so much :-) !


P. Murray
http://twitter.com/pmurraymusic

First question is do you have USB 3.0 ports? You need USB 3.0 ports to get USB 3.0 speed. Otherwise if you have only USB 2.0, you'll only get 2.0 speeds even with a 3.0 device.

It entirely depends on the performance of the drive(s) you're looking at. Lots of faster HDD's can hit average speeds of around 100-120MB/s; that exceeds USB 2.0 (and firewire 400) speeds, so you're better off going with 3.0. But on the other hand, if you're using "green" (i.e., low power, lower-performance) disks, they might top out around 50-60MB/s (or lower), which is fine for USB 2.0 (give or take some headroom on the bus). USB 3.0 is faster than firewire, but the limiting speed is probably going to be the disk.

It also depends on whether you've got firewire 400 or 800. Firewire 800 is around about as fast as most mainstream HDDs (give or take), with firewire 400 about as fast as usb 2.0. So if you have a firewire 800 connection, and a firewire 800 external hard drive, you're pretty much good to go in terms of speed.

For the purpose of ubiquity, if you have USB 3.0 ports on your system, I don't see why you'd want to maintain firewire moving forward. USB is on pretty much every device, whereas firewire isn't as common.
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July 18, 2013 4:21:13 AM

__-_-_-__ said:


anyway this will become irrelevant when usb3.5 arrives in the end of this year with better capabilities then thunderbolt.


Better than Thunderbolt? If by "better" you mean on par with what Thunderbolt currently offers as far as data speed and behind Thunderbolt 2 (also due out this year, just like USB "3.5"), and lacking the display options of Thunderbolt and lacking Thunerbolt's (very useful) daisy chain abilities, then yes, USB 3.5 will be better. But, I think most people would disagree with that definition of better. USB 3.5 will offer speeds on par with Thunderbolt 1 and be cheaper, but cheaper does not mean better. Also, USB 3.5 requires all new hardware, just like Thunderbolt 2, so don't think your existing USB 3 toting laptop will be getting a driver update and a speed boost.
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a c 126 G Storage
July 18, 2013 4:23:35 AM

Daisy chaining is 'useful'? I consider it a stupid method. Let me plug in this memory stick, I'll just unplug your screen. Oops, too many devices in a chain.

Star-based networks FTW.
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July 18, 2013 4:50:36 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
Daisy chaining is 'useful'? I consider it a stupid method. Let me plug in this memory stick, I'll just unplug your screen. Oops, too many devices in a chain.

Star-based networks FTW.


I see it as providing more flexibility for placement options and eliminating the need for multiple long, messy cables. To set up three monitors you need on 4-5' cable then two 2-3' cables. Much less clutter and mess than 5' cables and a pair of 8-10' cables. Or even placement of a hard drive array and a pair of monitors. The less long cables I have running back to my tower the better. USB hubs can accomplish similar results for some peripherals, but not monitors and not as cleanly.
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a c 126 G Storage
July 18, 2013 5:01:28 AM

You can do it with DisplayPort too though, and point-to-point connections are easier to trace than chains. If I want to pull something out of a USB-based system, I just disconnect one end and trace the cable. To remove something from a chain, I have to disconnect one thing, then hope one of the two cables connected to it is long enough to reach the next device.

Besides, how many things have you found with two TB connectors? Almost everything is only one, which sort of breaks it.
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July 18, 2013 6:08:44 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
You can do it with DisplayPort too though, and point-to-point connections are easier to trace than chains. If I want to pull something out of a USB-based system, I just disconnect one end and trace the cable. To remove something from a chain, I have to disconnect one thing, then hope one of the two cables connected to it is long enough to reach the next device.

Besides, how many things have you found with two TB connectors? Almost everything is only one, which sort of breaks it.


True you can do it with displayport (which the S7, the laptop I referenced in my OP also lacks btw), but most monitors that have a displayport out are nearly as expensive as monitors with thunderbolt out, and thunderbolt give you the potential to add in a storage array or external graphics or any number of things. Are all these things available to purchase today? No, but they are on the way and when I'm spending $1,599+ on a laptop and another $800-$1,000 on a display, I'm buying them to use for more than a year or two, so I'd rather have the most future proofed options available. I'm not saying every laptop sold should have Thunderbolt, but on a high end machine like the S7 it is something I want.
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a c 126 G Storage
July 18, 2013 6:19:20 AM

The problem is that any time someone comes along with something that doesn't have two connectors (this could be anything; flash drive, external HDD, or a phone), you have a problem, and can't use your screen.

USB 3.0 can live without thunderbolt (you can use stuff like DP/HDMI/DVI for a display). Thunderbolt can't be the only connector.

Also, USB3.0 has backward compatibility with every system from the last decade, but if you buy a thunderbolt external HDD you're betting on never needing to use it on anything that's not a bleeding edge machine.
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July 18, 2013 6:37:56 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
The problem is that any time someone comes along with something that doesn't have two connectors (this could be anything; flash drive, external HDD, or a phone), you have a problem, and can't use your screen.

USB 3.0 can live without thunderbolt (you can use stuff like DP/HDMI/DVI for a display). Thunderbolt can't be the only connector.

Also, USB3.0 has backward compatibility with every system from the last decade, but if you buy a thunderbolt external HDD you're betting on never needing to use it on anything that's not a bleeding edge machine.


I'm not against USB 3.0. I want both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. I view them as being good for different things. USB is great for inexpensive devices, flash drives, hard drives you want to use across many devices, etc. Thunderbolt is great for displays, hard drives where you will frequently be reading and writing very large files, and (and in my opinion this is the big one) external expandibility. We are getting laptops that are super thin and light, with powerful processors, and great displays, but very limited storage and graphics (among others). There simply isn't the room or cooling in a 1/2" thick sub 3 lbs. notebook for a discrete graphics chip or 4 tb of storage Thunderbolt is the best option to address this. In the not so distant future, you wouldn't need an ultraportable laptop and a big gaming (or whatever GPU intensive activity you do) desktop. Just have the graphics card and extra storage externally, plug in two wires (power and thunderbolt) to your ultrabook when you sit down at your desk and suddenly you've gone from a 13" ultraportable with great battery life to a 27" WQHD gaming machine with desktop level graphics and 4+ TB of storage. You simply cannot do that with USB, or, to my knowledge, any other connector. I've only seen external graphics presented over Thunderbolt, and HDMI won't put out over 1920x1080 on most laptops.
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a c 126 G Storage
July 18, 2013 6:47:18 AM

ePCIe sort of died a few years back, but it was a way better idea than the mess that is TB. Besides, the CPU in your average ultrabook is not that fast - despite being called an i5/i7, it has more in common with a drastically underclocked i3.

You do know you can do DP without TB, right? DisplayPort was around way before Thunderbolt, and removing TB does not require removing DP.

I wait for the day when 10GBASE-T is common. If I have a large amount of storage, I likely want to access it from more than one device.
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July 18, 2013 6:58:43 AM

Someone Somewhere said:
ePCIe sort of died a few years back, but it was a way better idea than the mess that is TB. Besides, the CPU in your average ultrabook is not that fast - despite being called an i5/i7, it has more in common with a drastically underclocked i3.

You do know you can do DP without TB, right? DisplayPort was around way before Thunderbolt, and removing TB does not require removing DP.

I wait for the day when 10GBASE-T is common. If I have a large amount of storage, I likely want to access it from more than one device.


I do understand that you can do DisplayPort without Thunderbolt. Acer (who this article is about) puts neither on their high end ultrabook. If ePCIe had caught on, that would have been great and there would be less need for Thunderbolt. As desktops continue to decline and laptops become even slimmer, we need a port that allows for external expansion, and I don't see a better option than Thunderbolt for that. Once our internet connections are fast enough to not need a direct connection to our storage arrays, I agree that that will be great, but we are a way off from that. Also, most of the Thunderbolt hard drives also have USB 3.0, so you use Thunderbolt where you have it, USB 3.0 where you don't.
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July 18, 2013 11:16:56 AM

the problem here is intel licensing that sucks. also chips are overpriced for what they offer. it's a pain to license a thunderbolt product

Licensing licensing licensing kills, I hope new Intel CEO has better vision than the previous more aggressive towards mobile development.

Recently Intel becomes complacent in his own glory, now it is time to wake up
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a b G Storage
July 18, 2013 1:54:03 PM

Good call.
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