3 Replies Latest reply: Jun 18, 2013 2:36 AM by Network 23
Hemiolia Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

A rather general question regarding Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals and cables.

 

My understanding of the Thunderbolt technology is that it is just another newer type of USB connection.  I've been looking for cables online that would allow me to connect my iPhone to my MacBook pro via Thunderbolt.  Why aren't there 30-pin to Thunderbolt or Lightning to Thunderbolt cables around anywhere?  I'd like to free up my USB ports - and although I realize I could just get a hub, I'd rather not have another "thing" I have to carry around with my computer.

 

Similarly, I have a few external hard drives that connect with a mini-USB port (on the hard drive side).  Why wouldn't I be able to find a mini-USB to Thunderbolt cable?

 

I know I am misunderstanding this technology.  Most of my web searches yielded information about some HTC phone and thus couldn't find the answer I was looking for.

 

Any information/advice would be greatly appreciated.


MacBook Pro with Retina display, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3), 64-bit
  • 1. Re: Thunderbolt - what are its limitations?
    Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,695 points)

    Hemiolia wrote:

     

    My understanding of the Thunderbolt technology is that it is just another newer type of USB connection.

    Well, no. Thunderbolt and USB 3 are complementary technologies, architected differently for different roles. USB is for low-speed low-priority communication, while Thunderbolt is for high-speed high-priority communication. USB depends on available CPU power, Thunderbolt does not. Because they have different roles, Intel puts both on the latest motherboards.

     

    It has always been this way. On the first Macs, SCSI was the fast standard and ADB was the slow one. On recent Macs, FireWire was the fast self-hosted standard and USB was the slow one that depended on and burdened the CPU.

     

    Because their roles were clear, nobody ever asked for a SCSI mouse or FireWire keyboard. Jobs like that were for USB.

     

    USB 3 is finally fast enough to do the consumer jobs that used to require something like SCSI or FireWire, like connect fast hard drives. Most consumers won't ever have a real need for Thunderbolt. But now there are even bigger jobs to be done by professionals, like producing 4K video, and even USB 3 can't handle that. So Intel came out with Thunderbolt.

     

    Lightning is Apple's own slow bus (used instead of USB) for mobile, low-power devices so once again nobody is going to ask for a Thunderbolt-to-Lightning iPhone cable because it doesn't make any more sense than asking for a Thunderbolt mouse.

     

    I suppose it could be possible to build a cable that translated between USB and Thunderbolt, but the very low level of chatter on the web about it means that you are probably much better served by buying a USB hub than waiting for a cable that will let you use low-end USB-type devices on the Thunderbolt ports.

  • 2. Re: Thunderbolt - what are its limitations?
    Hemiolia Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Network 23 wrote:

     

    . . . nobody is going to ask for a Thunderbolt-to-Lightning iPhone cable because it doesn't make any more sense than asking for a Thunderbolt mouse. . .

     

    I would

     

    I have two Thunderbolt ports that are going unused.

  • 3. Re: Thunderbolt - what are its limitations?
    Network 23 Level 6 Level 6 (11,695 points)

    I would agree that it makes sense in your case.

     

    Hope it was clear that I was just speaking casually.