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Type-C: Your Coming All-in-One Storage Connection
Hopefully, we caught your attention with our last couple of posts about next-generation Thunderbolt 3. What we didn’t mention was that the new technology for your storage and display devices will not be plug-compatible with your first- and second-generation Thunderbolt gear.
Don’t panic. The trade-offs in this transition are few, and the benefits more than worth the switch.
Meet USB Type-C
Yes, Thunderbolt 3 will use the USB Type-C connector. If that statement seems baffling and contradictory, let’s backtrack for a moment.
With most external hard drive products, you have an enclosure wrapped around a hard drive or two. The enclosure might sport a USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2 connection (or both), but the internal hard drives could be slower, consumer-priced 5400 RPM drives or faster, enterprise-grade 7200 RPM models. The external package is different from the characteristics of what’s happening inside.
The same principle applies to data connectors and protocols. In 2012, Thunderbolt the input/output protocol ran across Mini DisplayPort connectors, which is why Thunderbolt 1 and 2 can daisy chain Thunderbolt storage devices in the same cable sequence as DisplayPort monitors. With 40 Gbit/sec Thunderbolt 3, though, Intel decided to switch to the USB-C connector, enabling one 24-pin connection able to service next-generation Thunderbolt, USB devices, and even DisplayPort.
To use an older device on a new Type-C port, or to use a new Type-C device on an older, slower port, simply use an adapter. See? No need to panic. You’re not miraculously going to get Thunderbolt 3 speeds out of USB 3.0 devices, but the two formats (and others) will be cross-compatible, and Type-C supports up to 100W of power, making it the best connector yet for providing line power to devices without separate AC power. Let’s hope this marks the beginning of the end of several connection format wars and unnecessary cable clutter. [Continue Reading...]