IP over Thunderbolt

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by portishead, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. macrumors 65816

    Apr 4, 2007
    los angeles
    Apparently, Mavericks supports IP over Thunderbolt. What does that even mean? You can link multiple machines through Thunderbolt under 1 ip address? What is the use for this?
  2. macrumors 68030

    Feb 26, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    It means that thunderbolt will be able to act like an ethernet cable, I assume. Transmit/receive TCP/IP packets.
  3. macrumors 68000

    Aug 11, 2008
    Hrm. Someone needs to come out with a 20gbps Thunderbolt 2 switch.
    10GbE and Fibre Channel is stupid expensive.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2013
  5. macrumors 68020


    Jan 17, 2008
    Big D
  6. macrumors regular

    May 12, 2010
    No way that thunderbolt will be cheaper than 10GbE
  7. macrumors member


    Jun 24, 2012
    Is there any news / test results about "IP over Thunderbolt" in OS X 10.9?
    Can't seem to find any new info since this feature was announced in june 2013.
  8. macrumors member


    Nov 9, 2011
    Australia, Melbourne
    oh come on. that's not how it works.
    Thunderbolt is PCI-e over a cable. Not a ****ing network protocol. Just like there isn't a PCI-e switch, there wont be a thunderbolt one.
  9. macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2013
    Same as with FireWire. You can directly coonect two Mac using Thunderbolt cable and it will act as a network between these two Macs.
  10. macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2007
    Second that. Even though Thunderbolt carries PCI-E bus signals, it can definitely be used to implement Ethernet on top of PCI-E bus.

    From the network settings, we can see that you can connect two Mac with a Thunderbolt cable and setup peer to peer IP network. I don't have a cable on hand, cannot confirm that.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2013
    Actually, Thunderbolt is not “PCI Express over a cable”. Thunderbolt is a high-throughput, low-latency packet switching fabric. Both DisplayPort and PCI Express protocols are implemented on top of the Thunderbolt protocol. Thunderbolt packets can be routed over multiple Thunderbolt controllers, so it is actually correct to call Thunderbolt a “network protocol” (https://thunderbolttechnology.net/tech/how-it-works).

    However, in practice, a “Thunderbolt switch” will simply be a tiny computer with lots of Thunderbolt ports. The routing will happen in software at IP layer (it can’t happen at Thunderbolt layer since Intel has not yet designed multi-port Thunderbolt controllers, just dual-port).

    In fact, Mac Pro is exactly such a “Thunderbolt switch”, with Mavericks supporting IP over Thunderbolt (it’s called “Thunderbolt Bridge” in System Preferences’ Network pane). In December, you’ll be able to hook up, say, six MacBook Pros to a Mac Pro using StarTech’s 3 m or Corning’s 10 m cables and enjoy 20 Gbps networking for the cost of cables. All software that works over IP (SMB, iSCSI, etc.) will “just work” with this setup.

    Not everyone will want to buy a Mac Pro for this, so I can see some company making a “Thunderbolt IP switch” with, say, 10 ports for $1000. If this thing becomes popular, the price can get as low as $200–$300 (Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 controllers are just $13 for two ports).

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