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Adaptor question
#62794 11/11/22 11:15 AM
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I've got 2 (theoretically) USB 3 to Thunderbolt adaptors one by Apple, and the other by Anker.

The Anker USB port is blue, in keeping with the USB standard, but the Apple port is white, in keeping with Steve's fixation on "pure white."

Since white is normally the color of a USB 1 port, and my adaptor is obviously not USB 1, and since Apple doesn't specify anywhere which USB version it is, is there any way for me to find out?

System Information isn't helpful.

Can I just assume that because it's got the Thunderbolt port it must be at least 3?


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Re: Adaptor question
artie505 #62798 11/11/22 07:45 PM
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Apple's Port Identification Instructions
A Quick Guide To USB Port Symbols Logos And Icons
USB Port Types and Identification

MY COMMENTS
  1. There may be a proprietary color standard within a particular manufacturer's product line, but there is no industry standard.
  2. Any unmarked USB Type A port or connector is generally conceded to be USB 2.0 (Especially with adapters)
  3. Many connector markings are so light they require a bright light and magnifying lens to read

Last edited by joemikeb; 11/11/22 07:52 PM.

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Re: Adaptor question
joemikeb #62799 11/11/22 09:23 PM
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I didn't do due diligence, and had I done so I'd have found that the color code to which I referred is "generally accepted," but, as you've said, not "industry standard."

My devices adhere to it, though...
  • USB 1: White
  • USB 2: Black
  • USB 3: Blue


Thanks for the links. USB has gotten as confusing as all get-out!


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Re: Adaptor question
joemikeb #62804 11/12/22 10:01 PM
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A related question... I just bought a USB A flash drive which I'll use with an USB to Thunderbolt adaptor.

Would a USB C drive work in the same situation?

Thanks.


The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Adaptor question
artie505 #62809 11/13/22 09:31 PM
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ANSWER:

  • A USB flash drive with a Type C connector is, in most cases, compatible with a Thunderbolt 3 port and in all cases with a Thunderbolt 4 port.


RATIONALE:

  • Both the Thunderbolt 3 and 4 standards specify backward compatibility with USB 3.1 gen 2 and therefore all previous USB protocols, but there is wiggle room in the Thunderbolt 3 standard (ie. may support... provisions, and therefore may NOT be fully backward compatibility with all USB devices.
  • The Thunderbolt 4 standard, on the other hand, requires compatibility with USB 4 and the USB 4 standard, in turn, requires backward compatibility with all previous USB protocols.


EXPERIENCE

  • I have run into a couple of cases where connecting a USB 3.1 Gen 2 disk drive to a Thunderbolt 4 port using a Thunderbolt 3 cable was not successful. Replacing the Thunderbolt 3 cable with a Thunderbolt 4 cable solved the connection problem.
  • A port converter is technically a very short length of cable.


"Sacred cows make the best hamburger"

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Re: Adaptor question
joemikeb #62810 11/14/22 12:58 PM
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USB used to be easy to follow, but has become confusing since the advent of USB 4, USB C, and Thunderbolt.

System Information on my MBP says "Thunderbolt/USB 4" in its sidebar, but doesn't say anywhere that it'sThunderbolt 3. (Mactracker tells me that.)

And add to that the facts that
  • A Thunderbolt port is the same as a USB C/4 port,
  • Mactracker tells me that my Thunderbolt ports support USB 3.1 Gen 2, but as far as I can tell, USB 3.1 Gen 2 is really USB 3.2 Gen 1,
  • and a USB drive plugged into a Thunderbolt port with an adaptor shows in System Information as utilizing a USB Bus but not a Thunderbolt Bus.


Truly confusing!


The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Adaptor question
artie505 #62811 11/14/22 01:44 PM
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And I forgot to mention that USB 3.1 Gen 1 is actually the current terminology for USB 3.0.


The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire
Re: Adaptor question
artie505 #62812 11/14/22 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by artie505
System Information on my MBP says "Thunderbolt/USB 4" in its sidebar, but doesn't say anywhere that it'sThunderbolt 3. (Mactracker tells me that.)

And add to that the facts that
A Thunderbolt port is the same as a USB C/4 port,
Mactracker tells me that my Thunderbolt ports support USB 3.1 Gen 2, but as far as I can tell, USB 3.1 Gen 2 is really USB 3.2 Gen 1,
and a USB drive plugged into a Thunderbolt port with an adaptor shows in System Information as utilizing a USB Bus but not a Thunderbolt Bus.



And I forgot to mention that USB 3.1 Gen 1 is actually the current terminology for USB 3.0.

It appears you are conflating connector types, ports and protocols. USB A, USB B, USB B micro, USB B mini, and USB C are physical connector types and each type is related to one or more protocols. Thunderbolt is a specific variant of USB. By specification, each protocol is backward compatible with the preceding protocols but particularly in USB 2 and USB 3.x there are multiple options including minimum and maximum power delivery, the number of data lines, and the maximum and minimum data speed of each of those lines. This Wikipedia chart shows the relationship between connector types and protocols. Note there are three type A connectors with either 4 or 8 actual lines depending on the protocol they are used with but until recently the standard did not require the protocol to be specified on the connector. Note too, the USB type C port is specified for use with any USB protocol but USB 1.0, so instead of USB C/4 it should be USB C/2.0,3.0,3.1 gen 1, 3.1 gen 2, 2,O, 4.0, Thunderbolt 3, Thundebolt 4. Much of the confusion revolves around the fact that with the release of the USB 2.0 standard the naming convention was changed as shown in this Wikipediia chart. For whatever reason it has taken many vendors a long time to catch on to the change, but over the last year, I have noticed that most have caught on, and I avoid those that seem unaware.

The Thunderbolt 4 specification requires full backward compatibility with USB 4, but the USB 4 specification does not, and should not, require forward compatibility with Thunderbolt. So you can connect any USB device to a Thunderbolt 4 port and expect it to work, but not vice-versa. However, when a USB device is connected to a Thunderbolt 4 port the port is limited to the lowest connected protocol, ie. USB 4 and will appear that way to the system.

In case you are wondering, Thunderbolt and USB were both developed by Intel, but Apple had significant input on the Thunderbolt standard.

By-the-way, unless you have a Mac with Apple Silicon, the thunderbolt port is Thunderbolt 3

Last edited by joemikeb; 11/14/22 09:22 PM. Reason: By-the-way

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