2013 Mac Pro Thunderbolt to Ethernet Link Aggregation

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by macmanss, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. macmanss macrumors newbie

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    #1
    What I'd love to know is if the new 2013 Mac Pro can do ethernet link aggregation over multiple thunderbolt ports using apple's thunderbolt to gigabit ethernet adapter, maybe even mixed with the standard ethernet ports too?

    This could potentially give you up to 8Gbps out of your Mac Pro for minimal cost as it has 6x TB and 2x GbE ports.

    As others have pointed out elsewhere in these forums, each client could only transfer to the Mac Pro at 1Gbps each (so no speed improvement if there's only 1x client), but in theory you could have up to 8x clients transferring simultaneously to the Mac Pro at 1Gbps each. The internal PCIe flash storage should be able to handle that amount of data, or at least close to it.

    Has anyone tried this or something similar? There aren't many new Mac Pro's in the wild yet but if anyone's tried it or has any comments I would LOVE to hear about it :)
     
  2. mikepj macrumors regular

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    Nov 2, 2004
    #2
    I can't think of any reason it wouldn't work. I run an aggregated connection with the 2 gigabit ports on my 2009 Mac Pro right now and it works fine.

    Seems to me the better solution for bandwidth like this is to buy a single Thunderbolt 10 GigE adapter though. You'd save a lot of software overhead, along with ports on your switch, and you would have a chance for much higher bandwidth to other single clients with 10 Gig connections to boot. The only drawback would be the potential need for new cabling or a faster switch.
     
  3. projectle macrumors 6502

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    Oct 11, 2005
    #3
    If you install Server, yes you can perform link aggregation, however it is not enabled by default under client. You can probably configure it via Terminal, however I have not previously attempted to do so.

    However, on a slightly easier note for achieving particularly high throughput, 10.9 added the ability to run IP over a Thunderbolt port.

    Went in and connected up my rMBP to my MP over Thunderbolt 2 for getting data copied over and was pulling a reliable 288MB/s from the rMBP using rsync.

    Made getting things set up a very quick affair.

    All that is needed is to plug in a cable between two systems and either configure some IP Addresses or enable Internet Sharing between one of your Ethernet Interfaces and the Thunderbolt Bridge virtual adapter.

    Also of note, there are 10Gbase-T PCI-E cards that can be installed into the various Thunderbolt to PCI-E Chassises should you truly need very high throughput to a wide variety of machines.
     
  4. macmanss thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Awesome thanks for your replies :)

    At the moment we have a 2008 Mac Pro acting as a server running Mac OS X 10.6.8 Server, with about 15x client iMacs running standard 10.6.8. The server is connected to a Netgear GS748T managed switch with both MP ethernet ports aggregated, which works very nicely. From what I've read the Netgear switch we have supports up to 4, 8 or unlimited ethernet ports aggregated together depending on what you read.

    Also I found an article in Apple's support pages that states "Many managed switches have an upper limit of 4 or 8 ports in an 802.3ad aggregated bond. OS X does not impose a limit to the number of physical ports that you can add to a bond."

    mikepj - thanks yes I checked into getting a 10GbE card in a thunderbolt chassis but these seem to be around $1,000 from what I've found. Plus our switch doesn't have any 10GbE ports (and we recently purchased it for several hundred $$ so not keen to chuck it). I believe you can add SFP modules for fibre connections, but according to Netgears web site this only provides gigabit ethernet and is intended for distances up to 500 metres or so. Using up lots of ports isn't a problem as it's a 48-port with around 20 available. Re-cabling isn't really an issue though as the server and switch are right next to each other.

    projectle - thanks yeah I've read about networking via thunderbolt but haven't had the chance to try it yet - sounds very impressive though, especially if you have SSD on all connected Macs. I don't think there's any thunderbolt hubs greater than 5 or so yet, plus the cables are very expensive, around $300 for 5 metres or something, and half our Macs don't have TB.
     
  5. AVonGauss macrumors regular

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    Boynton Beach, FL
    #5
    Server is not required, it's under Manage Virtual Interfaces.
     
  6. mikepj macrumors regular

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    Nov 2, 2004
    #6
    ATTO makes a Thunderbolt 10GigE interface for around $800 I believe. I understand if you just bought the switch not wanting to ditch it though. Here's a link if you did want to check it out:

    http://www.attotech.com/products/category.php?id=15&catid=16

    Oh, and I can confirm that you don't need OS X Server for link aggregation. I run it here without OS X Server. Just go into System Preferences under Network and add a new virtual interface. It will allow you to create a bond0 interface from multiple Ethernet interfaces.
     
  7. macmanss thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Thanks I'll keep that in mind - I checked out the link and it's $995. We'd also need a new switch that supports 10GbE which seems to start at around $1500.
     
  8. Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2013
    #8
    Yes I've done that with the ethernet ports off two TB Cinema monitors from a 17" MBP. So yes like aggregation works with any two ethernet ports.
     
  9. macmanss thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Thanks Cubemmal, I've read that others on this forum have done link aggregation on a Mac Mini and iMac combining the built-in ethernet port and one thunderbolt (with the TB to GbE adapter) so I don't see why, at least in theory, you couldn't combine the Mac Pros 6x TB ports and 2x GbE ports into an aggregated link. I wish I could get my hands on one for a day to test it to be sure.
     
  10. mikepj macrumors regular

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    Nov 2, 2004
    #10
    Yeah, on the page they say something about retail price being $995, but the street price is much lower (starts around $750):

    https://www.google.com/shopping/product/15938034897340814850?prds=scoring:p

    Just to wrap up this slightly off-topic suggestion, I did want to mention that the price of 10GBit switches is coming down recently. Netgear has an 8 port 10GBase-T switch for $850:

    http://www.amazon.com/Netgear-8-Port-10-Gigabit-ProSafe-Switch/dp/B00B46AEE6

    I looked at having this kind of setup at my office between my Mac Pro and a file server, and came to the same solution that it's still a bit pricy. Give it a couple of years though…

    I have a Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter here already, I'll have to try aggregating it with the other two Ethernet ports on the nMP once mine arrives (Feb) just to see if it works.
     
  11. macmanss thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Yeah for our quantity of users we'd need a minimum 24-port and they start at $1500, plus the TB to 10GbE box for $750… starts to add up.

    It'd be sooo cool if the 6x TB + 2x GbE could be aggregated. Cost would be around $220 including all adapters and cables. If you get a chance to check it and post back when you have your new beast that'd be awesome thanks mike :D
     
  12. Cubemmal, Jan 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014

    Cubemmal macrumors 6502a

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    #12

    I'll have the MP, those two monitors and 4 spare ethernet ports so can try it when I get my machine, but as I said I have zero doubt it won't work. Of course you have to have a switch on the other side that is capable of doing this. I do - a Cisco 300 where I can arbitrarily gang up ports, so I have all the pieces.

    Don't know why one would bother though, two is more than adequate. Because of those two I'm forced to aggregate two lines between all my switches, and of course the big bottleneck is when it gets to the Cable modem. The only advantages for me are that my NAS (Synology) is link aggregated to theoretically I get something there, and when I mess around with the LAN I can take down one channel at a time so it stays up while I'm working.

    Finally ...

    So quit worrying about it.
     
  13. macmanss thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    LOL thanks Cubemmal, looks like we're going to get it, just waiting for final approval from the boss.

    Thanks for everyones input :)
     

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