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ekwipt
Jan 25, 2012, 08:08 AM
Not sure if it's been discussed or not but a good idea for Apple would be to release an internal Thunderbolt 4 drive chassis able to be raided, it would really push the MacPro ahead of the other manufacturers (Dell & HP) and maybe use internal mSSD or chips similar to the MacBook Air for the boot drive, either that or a an option for an oem version of the OCZ PCIe SSD cards, slight redesign case to match.



simsaladimbamba
Jan 25, 2012, 08:12 AM
What would be the advantage of an internal TB chassis in a Mac Pro, which currently has an S-ATA 3.0 Gbps (S-ATA II) interface for all internally connected storage devices? Most likely, the new MP will get S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III) for those, thus there is no real need for an internal TB chassis, unless I am understanding you wrong.
Your post could use some punctuation, as it reads like a run-on sentence.

Concorde Rules
Jan 25, 2012, 08:20 AM
Not sure if it's been discussed or not but a good idea for Apple would be to release an internal Thunderbolt 4 drive chassis able to be raided, it would really push the MacPro ahead of the other manufacturers (Dell & HP) and maybe use internal mSSD or chips similar to the MacBook Air for the boot drive, either that or a an option for an oem version of the OCZ PCIe SSD cards, slight redesign case to match.

What on earth for!?!?!?

What a random suggestion :/ :confused:

initialsBB
Jan 25, 2012, 08:23 AM
Although one can question the need for Thunderbolt in a Mac Pro, I feel the real issue is compatibility with the ever increasing range of Thunderbolt products.

theSeb
Jan 25, 2012, 10:05 AM
Although one can question the need for Thunderbolt in a Mac Pro, I feel the real issue is compatibility with the ever increasing range of Thunderbolt products.

Yes, the 2012 Mac Pro simply must have a thunderbolt port, but the original post is something else entirely and does not make any sense.

deconstruct60
Jan 25, 2012, 10:24 AM
Not sure if it's been discussed or not but a good idea for Apple would be to release an internal Thunderbolt 4 drive chassis able to be raided, it would really push the MacPro ahead of the other manufacturers (Dell & HP)

It is doubtful this will become a wide spread practice among system vendors. Part of the usefulness of Thunderbolt (TB) is to transform internal system signals (PCI-e ) into something that can be used to communicate between boxes. If you put the external peripheral box inside the original computer system box, it is now internal. The normal internal connectivity is both cheaper (there are already PCI-e lanes inside the box) and less complicated.

Indeed many of the initial TB products are either PCI-e cards wrapped in a "new" package or PCI-e cards + old external box (e.g., an eSATA PCI-e card moved to the external box). If go the other way there is no need for TB or the external boxes "inter-box communication" infrastructure.


Very similar rationale as to why there will never be native TB drives. You'll have either PCI-e or SATA drives but there aren't going to be "native" TB drives ( or likely any other perhiperal for that matter. ) TB will always be hooked to something that is PCI-e or DisplayPort "native" or has in standards based , inexpensive controller that makes it PCI-e or Display Port "native" (e.g., SATA-PCIe controller. ). TB isn't going to "Drive out" the older standards. It will make them useful in more places which only means they will continue; not disappear.


PCI-e is faster than TB if lash up sufficient lanes. It always will be. There is no "speed" advantage to a TB drive versus one on PCI-e.



and maybe use internal mSSD or chips similar to the MacBook Air for the boot drive, either that or a an option for an oem version of the OCZ PCIe SSD cards, slight redesign case to match.

Actually more the case of a internal SSD similar to that of the XServe. The XServe has a SSD boot drive option long before the MacBookAir did. Probably would want to use standard mSSD drive at this point though as opposed to the custom drive that Apple used in the XServe.

There are a couple of features from the XServe: easier horizontal rackmount, front accessible drives that lock in place , and this SSD boot drive that could be moved down to the Mac Pro to expand its usage range without significantly impacting the historical primary usage profiles.

A front panel with two lockable 2.5" drive sleds might kill two birds with one stone ( front drives and SSD ).

As far as mid-full size SSD drive card though. There is no pressing need for Apple to do that in a standard or even BTO config. Apple should work with vendors to see that they work, but an "Apple labeled" one isn't necessary. Neither is an Apple labeled RAID card. It is time for Apple to leave that too (single or dual SSD, SATA III drives are going to replace a large fraction of the internal "need for speed" RAID set ups and external RAID set ups have lots of competitive offerings to choose from when need external bulk storage. ). Given the internal core chipset has more than a few high speed SATA lanes and decent RAID abilities, an additional card doesn't have alot of traction when targeting the internal drive sleds.

deconstruct60
Jan 25, 2012, 10:44 AM
Yes, the 2012 Mac Pro simply must have a thunderbolt port,

The 2012 Mac Pro needs a Thunderbolt port about as much as the 2008-2010 models needed an ExpressCard port.

It is largely an over hyped market. There are extremely few $1,800 and up workstations with ExpressCard ports on them now.

A large fraction of the "work" these TB products do is covered by PCI-e cards that many users already own. So a new boxes with PCI-e slots will likely be utilized to reuse those cards. TB is going to have far more traction in markets where the system couldn't do the work before because there was not enough PCI-e bandwidth to get the job done than in markets replacing functionality that users already own.


Apple could add Mac Pro systems with discrete video cards and TB, but that will only drive costs higher. That is not "needed" as the Mac Pro already struggles with pricing pressure relative to the entire PC market. They would need either custom cards or embedded graphics which will drive up costs if made a standard feature.

goMac
Jan 25, 2012, 11:15 AM
Internal Thunderbolt does not provide any speed improvements over four discrete SATA-3 ports.

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 11:19 AM
Internal Thunderbolt does not provide any speed improvements over four discrete SATA-3 ports.

Let alone 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

simsaladimbamba
Jan 25, 2012, 11:21 AM
let alone 40 pcie 3.0 lanes.

40?

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 11:23 AM
40?

40 lanes = Two x16 slots + one x8 or two x4

simsaladimbamba
Jan 25, 2012, 11:26 AM
40 lanes = Two x16 slots + one x8 or two x4

Thanks, I vaguely understand better now, but I get it. Silly you, ahem, me.

torana355
Jan 25, 2012, 11:28 AM
Internal Thunderbolt does not provide any speed improvements over four discrete SATA-3 ports.

Isnt thunderbolt 10gbps where sata3 is only 3gbps???

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 11:30 AM
Isnt thunderbolt 10gbps where sata3 is only 3gbps???

Thunderbolt = 2x10Gb/s (i.e. 20Gb/s)

SATA 3.0 = 6Gb/s

theSeb
Jan 25, 2012, 12:11 PM
The 2012 Mac Pro needs a Thunderbolt port about as much as the 2008-2010 models needed an ExpressCard port.

It is largely an over hyped market. There are extremely few $1,800 and up workstations with ExpressCard ports on them now.

A large fraction of the "work" these TB products do is covered by PCI-e cards that many users already own. So a new boxes with PCI-e slots will likely be utilized to reuse those cards. TB is going to have far more traction in markets where the system couldn't do the work before because there was not enough PCI-e bandwidth to get the job done than in markets replacing functionality that users already own.


Apple could add Mac Pro systems with discrete video cards and TB, but that will only drive costs higher. That is not "needed" as the Mac Pro already struggles with pricing pressure relative to the entire PC market. They would need either custom cards or embedded graphics which will drive up costs if made a standard feature.
I should have posted a more detailed response. The reason that it needs it is purely for compatibility and uniformity with the rest of the range. Let's say I work in the field with a MBP and use a TB drive. I want to be able to plug in that TB peripheral into my mac pro when I get home or back to the office.

derbothaus
Jan 25, 2012, 12:42 PM
Thunderbolt = 2x10Gb/s (i.e. 20Gb/s)

SATA 3.0 = 6Gb/s

Yes but the reference was for "discrete". So really,

SATA 3.0 x4 = 24Gb/s


Single drives on each bus will not saturate either connection. So what is the point?

Put in 4x HDD's and the throughput is exactly the same in RAID0. TB gives no advantage. TB gives no advantage to SSD's either. Maybe next generation of storage. When each SSD/ (whatever) can transfer over 650MB/s. But SATAIV will be out at probably 12Gb/s. So again, why pay for the extra cost and implementation for the HD shopping limitations having internal TB would bring you.

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 12:52 PM
Yes but the reference was for "discrete". So really,

SATA 3.0 x4 = 24Gb/s


Single drives on each bus will not saturate either connection. So what is the point?

Put in 4x HDD's and the throughput is exactly the same in RAID0. TB gives no advantage. TB gives no advantage to SSD's either. Maybe next generation of storage. When each SSD/ (whatever) can transfer over 650MB/s. But SATAIV will be out at probably 12Gb/s. So again, why pay for the extra cost and implementation for the HD shopping limitations having internal TB would bring you.

I wasn't implying that one is better than the other, just clarifying the situation.

The fastest SSDs are already very close maxing out SATA 6Gb/s. Remember that SATA uses 8b/10b encoding scheme, so there is 20% overhead. That drops the maximum to 600MB/s when excluding other overheads such as latency.

Thunderbolt provides no gain because all drives are still employing SATA interface. Yes, even PCIe ones (the controller has a SATA interface, that's why. Most PCIe SSDs employ several controllers to achieve greater speeds, but that's same as RAIDing regular SSDs). OCZ/Marvell are coming up with a native PCIe controller which will eliminate the SATA bottleneck though.

goMac
Jan 25, 2012, 12:56 PM
Isnt thunderbolt 10gbps where sata3 is only 3gbps???

Does it matter? No single drive on the market or anywhere on the horizon is faster than SATA3. You'd be wasting Thunderbolt on a single drive that wouldn't support it.

Sure, you could run a RAID off a single Thunderbolt port, but if it's going to take up two drive bays, might as well use two SATA3 bays. It's much less wasteful than the power and heat needed to put Thunderbolt controllers on two ends of a connection literally less than a centimeter apart.

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 12:59 PM
Does it matter? No single drive on the market or anywhere on the horizon is faster than SATA3. You'd be wasting Thunderbolt on a single drive that wouldn't support it.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5321/oczs-portable-thunderbolt-ssd-lightfoot

derbothaus
Jan 25, 2012, 01:10 PM
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5321/oczs-portable-thunderbolt-ssd-lightfoot

Looks interesting but my shopping concerns are still valid. Putting 6+ TB ports internally on a Mac Pro this year would be unsound. Unless you like spending the extra cost on the Apple branded HD you'll be a slave to. Random read and writes (pure bandwidth, yes) are still nowhere near saturation speeds on these links regardless of SSD - right now.

Umbongo
Jan 25, 2012, 01:23 PM
Apple could add Mac Pro systems with discrete video cards and TB, but that will only drive costs higher. That is not "needed" as the Mac Pro already struggles with pricing pressure relative to the entire PC market. They would need either custom cards or embedded graphics which will drive up costs if made a standard feature.

But the alternative is Apple continuing to have separate Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt connected displays or no longer supporting the Mac Pro with their display line. May be fine for their current generation of 27" displays, but I can't see them doing it again next time.

I'll be a little surprised if Apple don't have Thunderbolt out through the graphics card. I don't know enough about how hard it would be for them to implement in that way though.

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 01:39 PM
Looks interesting but my shopping concerns are still valid. Putting 6+ TB ports internally on a Mac Pro this year would be unsound. Unless you like spending the extra cost on the Apple branded HD you'll be a slave to. Random read and writes (pure bandwidth, yes) are still nowhere near saturation speeds on these links regardless of SSD - right now.

Again, I wasn't implying that Thunderbolt is the way to go, just showing that there is something faster than SATA 6Gb/s. Internal TB ports sound stupid because you would need several TB controllers, all eating up precious PCIe lanes. Besides, the real usefulness of TB lies outside of regular storage solutions.

goMac
Jan 25, 2012, 02:30 PM
Again, I wasn't implying that Thunderbolt is the way to go, just showing that there is something faster than SATA 6Gb/s. Internal TB ports sound stupid because you would need several TB controllers, all eating up precious PCIe lanes. Besides, the real usefulness of TB lies outside of regular storage solutions.

It it faster than SATA3? The article said the drive has a Thunderbolt connector, not that it's faster than SATA3.

Edit: From the claimed speed the article gives, this drive would run just fine on a SATA3 bus.

Hellhammer
Jan 25, 2012, 02:54 PM
It it faster than SATA3? The article said the drive has a Thunderbolt connector, not that it's faster than SATA3.

Edit: From the claimed speed the article gives, this drive would run just fine on a SATA3 bus.

750MB/s > 600MB/s

It would of course run on SATA 6Gb/s, but the SATA interface would be bottlenecking it.

derbothaus
Jan 25, 2012, 03:07 PM
Again, I wasn't implying that Thunderbolt is the way to go, just showing that there is something faster than SATA 6Gb/s. Internal TB ports sound stupid because you would need several TB controllers, all eating up precious PCIe lanes. Besides, the real usefulness of TB lies outside of regular storage solutions.

Agreed. Future looks promising.

goMac
Jan 25, 2012, 07:11 PM
750MB/s > 600MB/s

It would of course run on SATA 6Gb/s, but the SATA interface would be bottlenecking it.

SATA 6Gb is 750MB/s. 8 bits to a byte.

But another good point is why would you need a fake Thunderbolt PCIe bus when you have a real one on the machine. Instead of putting two Thunderbolt controllers in the away, just put it in as a PCIe card.

Hellhammer
Jan 26, 2012, 01:21 AM
SATA 6Gb is 750MB/s. 8 bits to a byte.

8b/10b encoding drops the maximum to 600MB/s. Plus additional overheads because SATA 3Gb/s can't achieve 300MB/s either, more like ~280MB/s in real world.

Boomhowler
Jan 26, 2012, 02:33 AM
is there a limitation to how many pci-lanes you can have on a similar motherboard to what the current mac pro has? Couldn't apple just add 10-20 lanes (pcie 3.0 of course) and use these extra lanes for all expansions?

2 TB-ports on the graphics cards (for displays etc)
4 extra ports for expansion replacing all ports (but one of the TB ports is used internally for 3-5 usb-ports on the chassis itself, don't want to be forced to use converters to get usb). This way you could buy a "TB-hub" if you want firewire, extra usb, extra ethernet etc.

This way all communications inside the mac pro could be through the PCI interface, beginning the transformation to a truly modular computer :)

(a bit OT: imagine a "cpu and memory" controller box with lots of PCI-lanes to which you add gpu-TB-boxes and TB-storage boxes.. no more SATA, no more Firewire, no more usb-drives.. yummy)

deconstruct60
Jan 26, 2012, 07:38 AM
is there a limitation to how many pci-lanes you can have on a similar motherboard to what the current mac pro has? Couldn't apple just add 10-20 lanes (pcie 3.0 of course) and use these extra lanes for all expansions?


The number of real PCI-e lanes is set by the core chipset and/or the CPU package. For Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge the number of PCI-e v3.0 lanes is set solely by the CPU package.

The system vendors can perpetrate that there are more by adding switches. This is usually where the PC vendor boards with oodles of slots implement that. Slots share lanes so if wanted to put two high bandwidth cards into a slot they'd actually get 1/2 or 1/3 or some other fraction of what a it looks like they get.



2 TB-ports on the graphics cards (for displays etc)


TB ports on discrete PCI-e cards doesn't make much sense.

a. The TB controllers need for 4x PCI-e lanes competes with the GPU's need for bandwidth. So putting the two on the same card just means they directly compete with each other.

b. The TB controller is in part a PCI-e switch. Dual GPU cards have a PCI-e switch so that work gets sent to the appropriate GPU. Can imitate that by replacing a TB controller for a GPU. There are two problems. In a Dual GPU card only half the work is sent to the "other" GPU (that includes splitting the PCI-e bandwidth). Here the workload is not being split. Second, have also introduced a switch immediately behind a switch. That should be a clue that something is amiss with the design.



4 extra ports for expansion replacing all ports (but one of the TB ports is used internally for 3-5 usb-ports on the chassis itself, don't want to be forced to use converters to get usb).


4 more external TB ports??? That will take two more TB controllers and another x8 PCI-e lanes. At this point have ripped another slot worth of lanes bandwidth out of a box that only had 4 PCI-e slots in it in the first place. With the new core chipset may be able to snag 4x PCI-e v2 lanes from it (if any left after ethernete, FW, audio , etc. ), but two controllers would be impacting slot availability and bandwidth.


TB controller used internally? Loopy. PCI-e lanes are used internally. It is cheaper and less complicated. Routing TB singals inside the box to another TB controller is gratuitous encoding of the data. It just adds complexity and cost with no performance improvements and adds latency.



This way you could buy a "TB-hub" if you want firewire, extra usb, extra ethernet etc.


When a Mac Pro needs a docking station.... that again should be a clue that something is amiss with the design.



This way all communications inside the mac pro could be through the PCI interface, beginning the transformation to a truly modular computer :)


All comm between major components inside the Mac Pro is already in PCI-e interface. TB adds nothing new to the situation.

TB is a somewhat dubious interconnect for a modular computer. It is too slow for anything that requires more than 4x PCI-e v2.0 worth of bandwidth.



(a bit OT: imagine a "cpu and memory" controller box with lots of PCI-lanes to which you add gpu-TB-boxes and TB-storage boxes.. no more SATA, no more Firewire, no more usb-drives.. yummy)

How many gallons of TB marketing kool-aid did you drink???

SATA is not going away. eSATA may drop substantially over time, but TB is not going to displace SATA. Nor USB.

TB's modular traction is going to come largely from systems that are heavily space constrained (e.g., the ever thinner laptops) that have historically lacked PCI-e slot like flexibity. For physical system volumes the size of the Mac Pro, that doesn't make much sense. You could shrink the Mac Pro so that it was space constrained so then have to add space back with modules. However, that is an awfully circular rationale. "Shrink it so you can grow it". Stripping away the PCI-e slots to add them back in as TB ports isn't likely to be as effective in bandwidth or cost.

deconstruct60
Jan 26, 2012, 09:52 AM
I should have posted a more detailed response. The reason that it needs it is purely for compatibility and uniformity with the rest of the range.

Compatibility and uniformity with what? You are choosing TB only as the solution when that is not necessarily true. I think there are some benefits with putting TB on a Mac Pro. I just don't think is a "must" or hard requirement for majority of Mac Pro users.

For example, let's says users currently have an MBP with ExpressCard with eSATA (or getting by with a dual interface FW800/eSATA0 drive in the field and an eSATA/SAS card in their Mac Pro. A solution involving TB could be to add a eSATA hub to the TB equipped non Mac Pro.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1305703

In this context, the solution maintains compatibility and uniformity with equipment you already have and a large fraction of the overall PC market which has eSATA solutions. If get a new Mac Pro can move the PCI-e SATA card already have to the new box. Again uniformity and compatibility achieved.

TB doesn't make SATA drives faster than they are. Moving SATA over a wire gives you the same throughput as moving SATA encoded into TB protocol over a different (more expensive) wire.

For example the Seagate GoFlex system which mates a basic USM SATA drive with adapters to mutlinterfae (USB/FW) or TB.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5345/seagates-goflex-thunderbolt-adapters

That's for single boxes but illustrates TB is a interface transform and not necessarily the solution in all cases. GoFlex is the only drive solution following the USM SATA standard right now but that isn't all that much different than Apple pretty much being the only system vendor following quasi standard TB.

In the Mac Pro space TB in many cases involves throwing out PCI-e card solutions you already have for exact same functionality wrapped in a TB container. For example, The Promise SANLink FC adapter (in the comments section):

"... Different firmware same LSI card. ... "
http://www.xsanity.com/article.php/20110922214420170#comments

I can see the benefit where don't already have the card. In the case, purchase once and use in multiple places. For primarily non Mac Pro users there would that would be a larger fraction because don't have any PCI-e cards. I think the ratio is substantially different if confine to only Mac Pro users.




Let's say I work in the field with a MBP and use a TB drive. I want to be able to plug in that TB peripheral into my mac pro when I get home or back to the office.

What this ignores is that the majority of TB peripherals have stuff that plugs into them. The TB device is then plugged into the more constrained Mac that lacks PCI-e slots. With the Mac Pro you can often skip the TB "middle man".

There is only a subset of TB devices that make the additional plug in disappear. PCI-e card + drive container combos is one of those. It is the example people bring up but it is not the most prevalent TB device. Since it is a restricted subset, it is leap to flip that into a "must have" requirement for all Mac Pros.

Unless designers can drop the defacto requirement that PCs (including the Mac Pro) integrate video into the TB output, putting TB on a Mac Pro has almost as many downsides (cost , complexity) as it has upsides. If there was a "data only" TB port (smaller and not display port compatible) it would be a simpler call. Might loose a slot (go from 4 down to 3 ) or just keep the 4th on a PCI-e switch (and pretend there was the enough bandwidth for all 4).

Hellhammer
Jan 26, 2012, 10:18 AM
is there a limitation to how many pci-lanes you can have on a similar motherboard to what the current mac pro has? Couldn't apple just add 10-20 lanes (pcie 3.0 of course) and use these extra lanes for all expansions?

You can add PCIe lanes but you cannot increase the bandwidth. E.g. NF200 chip provided 16 extra PCIe 2.0 lanes, but these 32 lanes shared the bandwidth with all the other lanes. For example, you get 16 lanes from the CPU and then you add NF200 and get a total of 32 lanes. However, the bandwidth to the CPU is only 64Gb/s (PCIe 2.0), so if each lane is in use, the bandwidth is 2Gb/s per lane. The gain is that if one of the PCIe devices is not in use (example setup: GPU and eSATA card), the other gets full x16 bandwidth. Without NF200, you would have two x8 slots, i.e. only x8 bandwidth even if only one device is in use.

The PCIe controller is integrated into the CPU die in Sandy Bridge architecture. In current Mac Pros, the PCIe controller is part of the I/O hub (i.e. chipset). Hence you can't add bandwidth. PCIe 3.0 is twice as fast as PCIe 2.0 though, so we should see a healthy boost because of that. Also, as SNB has the PCIe controller on-die, you actually have two PCIe controllers in dual CPU setups. I'm not 100% sure but in theory, dual CPU setups should have a total of 80 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

slughead
Jan 26, 2012, 11:12 AM
Am I missing something? I didn't think there was any such thing as a thunderbolt hard drive, enclosures all require bridgeboards. If they're anything like usb or firewire, they limit certain actions by adding latency.

ekwipt
Jan 26, 2012, 08:44 PM
Got slammed by my un-educated thoughts again :D

Oh well it;s been a good read from the more knowledgable folk. Carry on :apple:

derbothaus
Jan 26, 2012, 10:34 PM
Got slammed by my un-educated thoughts again :D

Oh well it;s been a good read from the more knowledgable folk. Carry on :apple:

Sharing your thoughts and asking questions is the whole point here. No problems:cool:

glas0203
Feb 1, 2012, 08:40 PM
I Thunderbolt is already changing the market. Soon it will only be iMac,Mac Mini, and Macbook Pro.

check this out: http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/

I work at a post production commercial company and only could imagine how it would change our workflow. The possibility of being able to connect to our In house unity by a single thunderbolt wire would be awesome. As of right now we can hook up from a laptop through wireless (super slow) or use ethernet but that is bottlenecked. Only our Mac Pro's are hooked via Fibre.

There is talk that the future holds a small box(mac mini) as the CPU and all the peripherals are hook via Thunderbolt. Apple seems to be focused on making their products simpler every refresh, and using third parties to produce the icing on the cake. That is what they are doing with Final Cut X. You can't capture from tape(AJA software), no EDL,AAF,OMF (Auto Duck), etc.

Just my thoughts.