A spokesperson for Seagate confirmed on Wednesday that the company is discontinuing mainstream support for Thunderbolt and will only provide the technology on products listed under its LaCie premium brand.
According to the Seagate rep, the lifecycle of the products depending on Universal Storage Module (USM) technology is "coming to a conclusion." This SATA-based tech allowed Seagate’s external hard drives to connect to a variety of devices by way of removable adapters or built-in USM ports on desktops, laptops and more.
News of Seagate’s move to discontinue support for Thunderbolt on its external drives doesn’t spell doom for the technology. In fact, the LaCie division will still continue to offer Thunderbolt-based solutions while Seagate addresses Windows and Mac customers with USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and wireless storage solutions.
Seagate acquired Mac storage provider LaCie back in 2012 for $186 million. As seen on Tuesday, the latest LaCie Thunderbolt-based offering includes the d2, the 2big, the 5big, and the 8big Rack. These devices work on both Windows and Mac machines equipped with Thunderbolt ports and range in price from $299 to $4,599.
As we've seen over the last several years, Thunderbolt is marketed as a USB killer, although the adoption of the technology in the Windows-based arena has been rather slow. Thunderbolt was originally introduced as Light Peak back in 2009 and depended on optical cables. However, to reduce the cost, Intel and Apple decided to use copper wiring instead when the technology launched in 2011. Apple's Macs were the first to utilize the technology, and the Windows-based market has yet to see the same saturation.
For the uninitiated, Thunderbolt provides speeds of up to 10 Gbps while USB 3.0 can clock up to 5 Gbps. The newer standards of each are even zippier, with Thunderbolt 2 seeing 20 Gbps speeds, while USB 3.1 can theoretically pushing data at up to 10 Gbps. The big selling point with Thunderbolt is not only in its speed, but the ability to daisy chain up to six Thunderbolt devices.