Reader Question: Why No USB3 ports on OWC Thunderbay 4?
Edward C writes:
I'm looking to update to a newer computer soon (currently a 2009 Mac Pro) and need more storage too. I'm looking at the OWC Thunderbay 4 units but I see they don't have USB3 ports.
I'm not confident Apple is going to support Thunderbolt for all that long - are you? Now I have the older Qx2 with FW800/ESATA/USB2. I'd love to have a 4-5 bay RAID5 setup with both Thunderbolt and USB3 but no one seems to make it. Any reason OWC doesn't?
MPG: USB3 is not an appropriate bus for a 4-drive unit like the OWC Thunderbay 4; it does not have enough bandwidth to support four drives, and it’s ill suited to RAID, which requires simultaneous bandwidth to all drives. As well, adding a USB3 port for connecting it would require a chipset that would likely degrade performance for Thunderbolt, as it does with the 2-drive OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual, which has both Thunderbolt and USB3.
If the idea is USB3 expansion ports from a Thunderbolt unit, that is the province of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.
Thunderbolt is here to stay, with Thunderbolt 3 on the horizon. It has far more bandwidth than USB, can be daisy-chained (USB3 cannot be daisy chained), supports displays in the same cable and various other pluses. Its only real drawback is the cost of the chipset. Otherwise, it is vastly superior to USB3.
Moreover, the new standard will be a much improved USB-C and a Thunderbolt 3 which subsumes USB-C into a common connector including 100 watts of charging power and the 40 Mbps needed to drive an external 5K display. What a boon to the messy ploliferation of bus types and cable connectors. A very nice move forward. Presumably the latest iMac does not have USB-C since a whole new generation of Macs will likely adapot the new TB3/USB-C standard.