To USB or Not to USB


Thunderbolt 1 Flash Drive, Thunderbolt 2 with Enterprise SSD

Thunderbolt 1 Flash Drive

PCWorld reported the demonstration of a Thunderbolt 1 Flash Drive at Computex 2013.  The drive is a prototype.  The prototype is 128GB in size, made by SanDisk, and is considered an SSD, and apparently operates at Thunderbolt 1 speeds.   

The PCWorld article shows a picture of the drive (shown above), but does not show the measured performance.  We can guess that the performance is a maximum of 5.4 Gbps which is the stated speed of SanDisk’s existing 128GB SSDs.

You know from reading earlier blogs  on NAND Flash that the same chips are used in SSDs and their increasing speed.  You know the price of SATA based SSD from Amazon is about $100.

And you know from an earlier blog that a Client side Thunderbolt chip has a list price of about $10.50. (I can’t find the source for this, but when I do I will post it here.)

Assuming the client chip has a SATA interface on one side and Thunderbolt on the other, and assuming an uplift of 40% at least, the price of a 128GB Thunderbolt Flash Drive should be in the range of $120.

Except, since it’s Thunderbolt and volumes are low, the price will probably be more like $300 to make up for the lower volume in sales.

Now you can buy much cheaper USB 3.0 drive as below.

It should be noted that the drives go no faster than 190 MB per second so they aren’t has fast as the true SanDisk SSD and they don’t use the fast NAND flash. 

My conclusion is that it would be super easy to build a $120 USB 3.0 Flash Drive that is 128 GB in size and run at 400 MBps or 4 Gbps.  And you will sell a lot more USB 3.0 flash drives than you will sell Thunderbolt Flash Drives.  AND it will be differentiated against these other drives based on speed.

And even more interestingly, it proves a 10G USB flash drive is possible.  And both a USB 3.0 or 10G USB flash drive will run as fast as an internal SSD with a SATA interface making is super easy to run programs or access data off an external drive. 

Thunderbolt 2 Demo with Enterprise SSD

At the National Association of Broadcasters, Jason Ziller demonstrated a Thunderbolt 2 with an Enterprise SSD running at 12 Gbps as reported by enGadget.  Jason is the former chair of the USB Implementors Forum and oversaw the successful launch of USB 2.0 back in 1999/2000. So you know he’s not trying to replace USB, just making a complementary standard.



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Thanks to Rick Jamison

Back in 2007, before the invention of the iPhone and iPad, Rick Jamison asked me to write this blog.   He and Kathy Schmidt Jamison have written a “How To..” guide for beginners in Social Media.  It’s published by our own Synopsys Press.   There’s about 1 page of something I forgotten I had written on pages 95-96.

I would like to thank Rick for inviting me to Blog. You will note that my writing has improved (hard to imagine it was worse) from 2007 when I started (please don’t go back and look at the old ones).

Thank you Rick.  The blog has given me more opportunities.

Like these DAC videos.

More DAC gets Huang’ed

And a movie I’m going to go see in theaters in 2014.

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