Dropping all the Docks in the bay

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 8, 2017 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: dell, hp, Lenovo, docking station, usb 3.1, thunderbolt 3, Type-C

Wave goodbye to your old docks as they sail away thanks to a thunderstorm.  The Register reached out to Dell, HP, Lenovo and ASUS about the rumours that the docking station will be a thing of the past and all but the latter responded.  It seems the vendors feel that as USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 have united under the Type-C plug it is time to cover up that slot in the bottom of your PC and use a wire to connect you to docks.  Lenovo will also persist with their WiGig docks, for those who don't want to have to remember to 'undock' a cable.  Their post also has some tidbits on some of the features to expect on laptops from these three companies, so check it out for more info.

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"When you shop for PCs this year your theme tune may well be “Ding, dong, the dock is dead” because now that USB 3.1, USB-C connectors and Thunderbolt all play nicely together there's much less need for dedicated hardware to connect a laptop to peripherals."

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Source: The Register

March 8, 2017 | 12:59 PM - Posted by TiHKAL (not verified)

I am using the XPS 9560 + TB16(dock) as my daily driver for work. They seem to have the USB3c/Thunderbolt3 docks/port replicators working a bit better now.

March 8, 2017 | 01:06 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

Well lets see, a quick check of amazon shows nothing USB-C calling itself a dock with multiple display port. Perhaps wait to reach parity with what the old docks could do before you pull the plug...

I think the real decision was they favor badge engineering regular consumer devices into the corporate ones as a cost save. Just look at what the Precision laptops turned into.

March 8, 2017 | 03:51 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

That is exactly my worry as well.  I have never run into one of these types which works as well as a traditional dock.

March 8, 2017 | 02:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NO. I don't think that bandwidth is the issue, it's the components and drivers. We had a Lenovo T460 + Lenovo USB3 dock, that dock had video output issues that were then non-existent when we replaced it with a proper dock. Seen other USB docks be just as much of a headache.

March 10, 2017 | 08:27 AM - Posted by Kraaketaer

That's because USB-based docks use semi-reliable Displaylink (or similar) adapters for video output. USB-C supports DisplayPort throughput from the PC, as does TB3. TB3 also transmits four lanes of PCIe, allowing for far better controllers outside of the computer than USB-based ones.

An USB 3.1 G1/G2 type C-based dock would (probably) be just as bad as a regular USB 3.0-based one. But one splitting out the DP passthrough from the USB-C signal would be far more reliable. Essentially, it would do the same thing as a "proper" dock. No extra controllers, no fuss.

March 10, 2017 | 01:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

We ran into the same issue with Lenovo USB docks with laptops all the way back to the T430 series. Whenever we replaced them with proper docks we never heard a single further complaint from them.

March 8, 2017 | 06:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If Intel can get a new TB3 dual controller chip that can have both its available 40Gbs ports in a link aggregation mode then I can start to consider the new way. That’s provided the Laptop OEM’s can make sure there are enough PCIe 3.0 lanes to service all the dual TB3 controllers’ link aggregated 80Gbs bandwidth needs.

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