Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0 Storage Device Battle

The speed of the Pegasus R6 is very fast (Source: Dong Ngo/CNET)

The speed of the Pegasus R6 is very fast (Source: Dong Ngo/CNET)
When Intel Corporation announced that they were ready to release to the public the much ballyhooed Thunderbolt mass storage device, the computing world celebrated like the arrival of springtime. That celebration instantly turned into misery though, at least for the Windows users because of the exclusivity of the Pegasus R6 from Promise to Mac users only.

Not to be outdone and left out of the mass storage device market, the manufacturers at Seagate created the 1.5TB USB portable drive exclusively for Windows users. Now the story line starts to become clearer. There is no overall winner takes all in the consumer storage race as both sides take home their respective market share and nothing more.

The Promise Pegasus R6 Thunderbolt Drive is faster than the 1.5TB USB Windows Unit and that makes this platform for mass storage the one to covet of the two. Historically, Macintosh, or Apple, has been at odds with the larger and more widely-used Windows or Microsoft computers since the beginning of Apple in 1976. Not much has changed in that ongoing market share battle and especially in the mass storage sector of today.

Normally, when there is intense market competition, the result is that the consumer walks away with a great deal. This is not the case with the mass storage device venue. Since Macs generally do not support the popular USB 3.0, which has been available for a good while presently, and is becoming more popular in the personal computing world, Macintosh users have been left out in the cold.

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Conversely, Mac users do not have the ability to utilize the most versatile and across the board faster storage device, the Thunderbolt. The paradox and the thorn in the side of all computing consumers, which seek only to have an acceptable, general use storage device for their system is that they have to select one or the other. When this will change and when will either Apple or Microsoft relent and allow the other side to jump the fence is a hard estimation.
In the nuts and bolts section of this article, we can look at each system and see what are some of the values and benefits as well as the shortcomings for each mass storage device. Let us first break down the more popular unit, the Pegasus R6 from Promise on the Thunderbolt platform.
The Pegasus R6 is more than just a storage device. This Windows only unit offers the below listed features and benefits which are not available on the USB 3.0 service for Macintosh.

• Video Transport
• Connectivity
• Expandability
• Synced Audio

On top of all that functionality, the Thunderbolt or Pegasus unit is just faster. The Thunderbolt mass storage device is positioned to offer a blazing speed of 10Gbps (which is about 1.2GBps), in the upcoming winter months of 2011. The present day speed for the Pegasus R6 is around 6Gbps (768MBps) and this is the top speed for data throughput of the two competing units.
Does this mean that the battle is over and that the winners are Mac users? Not hardly, and the reason for this is cost and the above-mentioned flexibility for the USB 3.0 users. The average cost of a single Pegasus R6 mass storage unit is $1,500.00. In contrast, the USB 3.0 unit can be obtained for as little as $100.00. That is a huge economic advantage for the Windows users and a big hit for the already priced out to the hilt Mac users.

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In taking the USB 3.0 for a test spin, the speed that was most available was 3Gbps. That’s 640MBps and in the real world that is plenty fast enough for most applications. Soon, the USB 3.0 will be upgraded to a speed of 5Gbps, and that is extremely fast. For now the speed burner and the flexibility factors lean to the Pegasus R6 mass storage unit. In pricing alone, the winner is the USB 3.0.

The end result is that all computer users deserve and need both an affordable and flexible mass storage unit device. Until one side or the other gives in, there will be no winner takes all in the storage device terrain.

TFOT has covered new technologies that are related to mass storage devices in earlier issues: 128 GB Flash Memory Package and LaCie, among others.

More information on the Thunderbolt vs. USB 3.0 Storage Device conundrum can be found on the CNET website.