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Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter prototypes revealed

Since I first blogged about it, the questions about when Seagate will release a Thunderbolt adapter for GoFlex have seemed like a weekly occurrence. This is exciting in its own right in that people are now looking to take advantage of the “flexibility” promise of GoFlex drives, and are chomping at the bit for Seagate to have it available.

I can now confidently say that we’re getting much closer…

The official word from Seagate at this week’s Intel Developer’s Forum in San Francisco, CA, indicates that the company will be showcasing working prototypes of new Thunderbolt adapters compatible with Seagate’s entire family of GoFlex drives. Check out the slideshow:

There are two Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt adapters on the horizon; one designed for the GoFlex ultra-portable 2.5-inch drive and another for Seagate’s GoFlex Desk 3.5-inch drive. Thunderbolt adapters for both drive form factors will be demonstrated in Intel’s Advanced Technology Zone at the show this week.

If not now, when? I know we’re all eager to see this new faster interface and Seagate is working hard to deliver it before the end of the year.  “Take my word for it…it’s coming soon.”

Another frequent question that has arisen from the comments I’ve been fielding is related to the number of Thunderbolt ports the GoFlex adapters will have.  Judging from the prototype photo, the portable drive will have only one meaning that it will either have to be the only device connected, or the last in the chain of Thunderbolt peripherals connected to your Mac. Based on the photo, the adapter for the Desk version looks as though it has two connections.

Raising the questions…Are Mac users looking forward to other benefits beyond the daisy chain capabilities of the new Thunderbolt interface? Will the promised speed of Thunderbolt be enough value in itself?  Also, supposedly, there will be PC offerings with Thunderbolt next year. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Let me know what intrigues you most about this new Interface, which was developed as an Intel-and-Apple collaboration.

Related Posts:

Seagate GoFlex to “adapt” to Apple’s Thunderbolt technology
The beauty of a Mac with a GoFlex to match


  • The speed and the daisy chaining capabilities are very important to me. My set up is pretty simple. But two Thunderbolt ports in the Goflex Desk adapter are important so that I can connect the drive to my iMac, and then, from the Goflex Desk drive, to a mini display port to HDMI adapter to an LED HDTV.

  • How will a Thunderbolt adapter help in any way? If the hard drive only runs at 5400rpm-7200rpm, around 50-80mbs, then how would the read/write even come close to what Thunderbolt is supposed to offer, speeds up to 10 GBS ?

  • This is great news! I think this would be perfect in addition to a Thunderbolt hub that has USB 3, eSata, Firewire800 and another Thunderbolt port. This offloads a lot of audio recording work to a much faster bus all together! Can’t wait to buy one and review it!

  • Lets Go developer with TB.
    The agrement to have only Mac equiped with TB for one year exclusivity is coming to finish soon.
    So far the best computers in the world will be equiped with TB,
    of course Mac products, then I just read on a french site that in the PC computers:

    Acer and Asus should put TB in 2012. (Those are recognized by experts as the best PC)
    Now it will be a big plus to have Thunderbolt everywhere.

  • If Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner are compatible with that GoFlex with Thunderbolt, it will be a fantastic utility for security and backup.
    I’m not sure if we can reboot the Mac with Lion!!!??? (With Snow Leopard = No problem)

    Nice work Seagate.

  • the point is that there would be no bottleneck and it would be the same as writing to an internal drive, it would be faster than firewire800

  • About ready to give up on the promise and look at other offerings. I use a ton of external storage and guess I will continue to use the firewire drives for time machine and get something high end. Waiting until January or December is out of the question.

  • [...] Seagate GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter prototypes revealed Is Bitcasa just a bit before its time? Maybe, but maybe not The case for old school 25MB file transfer Using hard drives to boost PC performance: myth vs. reality [Infographic] The Petabytes of video consumption: Fixed vs Mobile Storage’ new best friend is an elephant? Friday just for fun: Storage Fail [...]

  • Awesome! Can’t wait for FreeAgent Thunderbolt, but pls pls pls make the mobile version have 2 thunderbolt port too! I don’t even mind paying extra for it cause if I recall correctly, for daisy chaining w/ thunderbolt, the monitor needs to be the last device, I’m not sure why honestly. Besides, some people (like me) might want to connect 2 notebook w/Thunderbolt, 1 for backup and 1 for extra storage

  • Sat Khalsa Says:

    Cannot wait for thunderbolt to use as a scratch disk for my HD video editing

  • [...] 27-inch LED display, along with LaCie’s shipping of a Little Big Disk, and Seagate’s unveiling of demo devices during mid-September’s Intel Developers [...]

  • [...] bei Seagate aus. Bestellen kann man da auch noch nichts, aber auf dem Intel Developer Forum wurden Thunderbolt-Adapter für die GoFlex Serie vorgestellt. Seagate fährt mit den GoFlex-Festplatten eine etwas andere [...]

  • [...] 27-inch LED display, along with LaCie’s shipping of its Little Big Disk, and Seagate’s unveiling of demo devices at mid-September’s Intel Developers [...]

  • [...] shipping slated to begin in October 2011. The flow of Thunderbolt peripherals onto the market defini&#…4; machines packing Apple's new I/O technology. Sonnet's US$150 EchoExpressCard/34 [...]

  • It was mentioned that there would be no bottleneck with a thunderbolt, but isn’t the bottleneck the HDD itself? Writing at 50-90mbs, how would it benefit with a thunderbolt transfer up to 10gbs if it only writes at 50-90mbs? I could see how an SSD would benefit, but not a HDD.

  • As has been said, the HDD will be a bottlneck but a HDD on Thunderbolt will be faster than the current fastest external connection for Mac owners.

  • “How will a Thunderbolt adapter help in any way? If the hard drive only runs at 5400rpm-7200rpm, around 50-80mbs, then how would the read/write even come close to what Thunderbolt is supposed to offer, speeds up to 10 GBS ?”

    because you can write to multiple drives at once. 50-80mbs x 6 = 300-480mbs, and even faster if you raid those drives. remember the beauty of thunderbolt is the ability to daisy chain. I wonder how pricey they will make these adaptors.

  • @Derek Great comments Derek. Thanks for sharing. I would think that the Thunderbolt adapter would help the same way USB 3.0 helped over USB 2.0, or FireWire 800 over FireWire 400. When we moved to USB 3.0, we saw a significant improvement in overall external drive transfer rates. The faster the interface, the bigger the pipe the external drive has to push / pull data. You are correct in that the bare drive component itself is limited, but interface speeds, even though they will never be fully saturated, do improve performance. (and the daisy chain feature is a nice bonus!) Thanks again – Mark.

  • J Smart Says:

    If there was only one Thunderbolt port on the GoFlex portable it will be a problem.
    I run a Macbook Pro on a daily basis and I connnect to an external monitor using a mini display port to hdmi cable. This means that if there is one port on the GoFlex portable, I’ll have to choose between my external monitor or external Thunderbolt portable drive. That is not an option.

    I want the portable drive to run backups and take them offsite, and to run a virtual machine directly off (another) external drive. Portable drives are great since I don’t need a power supply and when commuting by walking, or cycling they make a big difference than carrying a desktop drive!

    Also I don’t agree with the argument that a Thunderbolt adapter will not help. This is because currently the external interface is the bottleneck! Firewire 800 cannot keep up with even a single 5400-7200rpm external drive. Yes a conventional external drive will now be the performance limiter, but many of us have 5400-7200rpm drives inside our computer. With Thunderbolt and an external SSD you will get better performance out of an external drive than internal!

    Hopefully external SSDs will also be able to use the portable GoFlex. Another reason there should be two Thunderbolt ports on that cable.

  • @J Smart Great input – thanks for the feedback. I will be sure to share with the GoFlex team here at Seagate. Thanks again – Mark

  • J Smart Says:

    Also looking at it from Seagate’s point of view, two Thunderbolt ports on the portable adapter cable means I can daisy-chain. Thus if I’m running a virtual machine (or several, Linux, Windows, etc) and backups at the same time on different drives, I’ll buy at least two Thunderbolt adapters (and probably more), and at least two or three drives. If there is only one port, I can’t daisy chain, so I’ll buy one at best, although I probably won’t buy one because of the need to use my one mini display port for the external monitor.

  • xdesign Says:

    Exactly ! J Smart hits it on the button. All new mac computers add new technology but cripple the machine at the same time. Yes here comes thunderbolt but lets remove the extra usb ports and just have one firewire 800 and blow out the firewire 400. One buys top of the line apple computer and you find yourself trying to adapt to the limited input/output options to run your video and audio projects. I had a look at the top of the line Macbook pro’s the other day at Apple Regent Street London and was shocked at the limited options on connecting peripherals. One Thunderbolt port…..big deal. Seagate will win friends if they do the decent thing that Apple should have done in the first place.

  • J Smart Says:

    @xdesign Just to clarify that I actually like that Thunderbolt can drive a display and drives via daisy chaining, and I like that this reduces the number and size of ports required on your computer.
    This however depends on peripherals having two ports to enable daisy chaining. Typically this was the case with Firewire 800 drives. Many of them (but not all of course) had two ports to enable daisy chaining.
    Where it falls short is that there are currently very few options for Thunderbolt peripherals, when Thunderbolt is there on all Macs this year. The other thing is that they will probably be quite expensive too, when there are plenty of USB 3 peripherals and inexpensive too.
    So I’m more disappointed that Thunderbolt peripherals aren’t available, NOT that the display and external drives can be run over the same cable.
    The new 2011 mbp 17″ comes with one Firewire 800 port, as did my old 2008 model, so no loss there. There is still 3 x usb 2. They only dropped Firewire 400 so no loss if you ask me.

  • I sam dieing for thunderbolt… it will drastically change the way I can work with the 10GB/Sec, as well as the ability ot run HD monitors along eh same bus. I cant wait… please hurry… I need a really fast 4TB drive!

  • Samsung, please get your act together. Where is your Thunderbolt option for the Seagate GoFlex? It’s one thing to delay, but it’s another thing to have no PR or announcements about it.

    I’m starting to lose my faith in your reputation.

  • Where’s the interface! Loyal Seagate customers want to know!

  • @Derek Thanks for being so loyal, and vocal at the same time. That goes for all of the commenters on the availability of the new Thunderbolt adapters. Please bear with us on this. We are working through some additional compatibility and performance testing in conjunction with Apple requirements. Sorry that I still don’t have a definitive date as to availability, but we are not far away from completion. Believe me, we want to release the product, but quality and reliability will always come first. Thanks again for your incredible patience.

  • mark,
    no offense… but not all of us can continue ‘being patient’. I’m starting to become quite furious. i heard FROM SEAGATE almost a year ago that they would be creating these. i bought 3 drives solely for this reason. here we are… almost a year later, and we don’t even have a target date yet? i’ll be getting rid of these asap and purchasing lacie drives. they’ve had a thunderbolt product on the market for some time now.

  • William Says:

    Gees Jeff relax, I’m sure Seagate will make this available when it’s ready. I would rather it be done right then have a major problem. I too have bought multiple drives for our school’s IT lab that connect to 6 new thunderbolt 21″ iMacs. Mark tell the boys that your long term customers will rather a good product then rust it out the door.

  • To those waiting, those developing, and those hoping……

    Quality vs. availability?? I may be possible that Seagate has had trouble for a year getting their adapter to work, but that’s a rather long time and indicates that there has been something seriously wrong, either with planning, design, engineering, production, or marketing. I don’t really think Seagate is THAT incompetent. So, I assume the issue is marketing priorities. They are waiting for the user base to grow enough to justify the expense of ramping up production, compared to other markets. I would also suspect that some of Apple’s restrictions make it a restricted market, and thus lower priority.

    The best option for customers is indeed to go to other manufacturers. As long as a company has a captive market patiently waiting, it is money in the bank and they can focus attention elsewhere. When you go to Lacie or Pegasus that is the only way to send a meaningful message to Seagate.

    It is inconceivable, in my opinion, that this much time could be spent on testing a product that was supposed to be out last summer and that is actually described as available in the drive’s product literature. That kind of blatant false advertising smells bad, a bait and hook strategy. With the late entry vs. what was promised, I wonder if there is now a strategy to redesign the interface to position it more competitively with the others who made good on their promises. Hence, it may not be “testing” we are waiting for, but a redesign to try to come back from a losing market position.

    These are speculations, of course. There is one way to prove them wrong.


  • @Mark Wojtasiak: You mentioned about quality and reliability. Really? I feel that Seagate do not treat customers seriously. I give you an example:

    There are complaints on Seagate Community about FW800 (STAE102) adapter overheating issue. The temperature is so high that can burn your skin. This is a real problem and not fixed.

    Still no solutions. Customers report a problem. Seagate Community forum admins sweep the issue gently under a carpet. They have the same totally useless support formulas and behave like answering machines. This is not what customers expect!

    Did you fix this HW design issue? Did you release next HW revision? Are you going to replace all sold FW800 adapters?

    How can I believe in your products if you leave customers alone with your poorly designed product. You do not have a courage formally to admit that the issue even persits.


  • Thank you for your comment. Please be aware that Seagate is knowledgeable of the small number of comments on our forums regarding this concern. We have taken action and captured several customer’s units for testing. Through our testing we have not discovered an issue with the FW800 adapters overheating.

    In addition to in-lab testing, the forum moderation staff have recommended that users verify that the adapters get hot when subjected to a variety of use cases and situations, and if their particular units still get too hot for their comfort, then those particular units should be replaced under warranty. The moderation staff also posted links to our Warranty Support page, where return orders can be conveniently processed online, as well as our Contact Support page, where direct contact information for our Warranty Support agents is available. This same warranty is in place on all FireWire 800 adapters that the user feels is too hot for comfort.

    Further, if you think your adapter runs too hot, please contact Seagate Support. We are still open to capturing the adapter and performing further lab testing, research, and of course replacement.

    Best Regards,
    Seagate Support

  • Thanks for reply.

    Believe me or not but, I noticed the same behaviour during data transfer. Temperature of adapter is definitely too high for a device exposed to possible contact with skin. Well, this is not a valve amplifier, but a mobile HDD :-) You can compare it to USB 3.0 adapter which is relatively cool. Luckily I did notice performance downgrade.

    I do not know your tech specs regarding HW design calculated thermal limits (Worst Case analysis). Maybe Seagate tolerate such max. adapter temperature.

    Again thanks for advice. I am happy that you proposed to replace affected units under warranty.


  • @ William:

    “Gees Jeff relax, I’m sure Seagate will make this available when it’s ready. I would rather it be done right then have a major problem. I too have bought multiple drives for our school’s IT lab that connect to 6 new thunderbolt 21″ iMacs. Mark tell the boys that your long term customers will rather a good product then rust it out the door.”

    done right? do you seriously believe that seagate techs and developers are so incompetent that they are unable to figure out what other companies have managed to do in a year? this (for their sake) cannot be an issue of design, function, or quality. it is most likely, as others have said, a money/marketing issue which sucks for those of us that have fallen prey to their rather deceitful marketing already (my drive actually stated it was available now… where is it? – that by itself is a class action lawsuit waiting to happen)

  • [...] Thunderbolt adpter GoFlex Thunderbolt adpterメーカー:Seagate販売元:無しレビュー:cultofmacATTO [...]

  • duffypratt Says:

    Just bought the 4TB GoFlex drive. On the box it says that it’s upgradeable to Thunderbolt. I asked at the store, and the salesperson said that they didn’t carry the adapter, and I would have to go directly to the Seagate website. So here I am, and all I discover is an empty promise. I’m wondering if I should return the drive, on principle, because of Seagate’s false advertising.

  • William Says:

    Info on the adapters via Youtube at CES 2012

  • viktorob Says:

    This will be interesting since you can do RAID via software in the Mac and now a company has released a ZFS plug in for OS X.
    Too bad it only has 1 Thunderbolt port since you can do speedy RAIDs with the combination of Thunderbolt and ZFS.
    At least I don’t have to pay thousands for a simple drive.

  • well thunderbolt really doesn’t help for a normal hard drive. I do have a seagate flex drive but even ater using this adapter the most i can get is 100 megabytes per second (thats with a desktop hard drive also)

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