Best 10GbE options for 10.6 & 10.12 servers

fhturner

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 7, 2007
596
374
Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
Hey Folks—

I know there are a few other 10Gigabit Ethernet threads here, but I have some specific needs and thought maybe it would be better to start a fresh thread for them. Please forgive me if you disagree! :)

I would love to be able to deploy some of the new AQC-107 cards and have them "just work", but unfortunately, the macOS Server version 5.4 that you have to use w/ 10.13.x High Sierra (that's required to have those drivers included) is crippled and has had connectivity issues w/ file sharing.

So, due to certain server needs and constraints, I need to outfit one Mac Pro server running 10.6.8 Snow Leopard Server and one running 10.12.6 Sierra w/ 10GbE connectivity w/o breaking the bank. The Snow Leopard requirement is pretty significantly limiting, as many of the possibilities I've looked at do not have drivers to work back that far. So far, the main 2 options I've found are the Intel X520/X540 cards (adjusting firmware & using Small Tree drivers via @Squuiid's technique) for around $140 on eBay, or a SolarFlare card for around $50 on eBay. While I've already done the Intel route in the past for other setups, it seems to me that the cost and lack of firmware twiddling on the SolarFlare makes it a bit more appealing. Thoughts and experiences? Other suggestions?

For the 10.12 Sierra server, the options open up a bit. As far as 10GBASE-T options, it doesn't look like the dirt-cheap realm of the AQC-107 is available for that system, but AKiTiO has an NBASE-T card for around $180 new, so that's not too bad. Have also seen the StarTech mentioned (altho pricier), and I suppose the Intel X540 would be an option for this system as well. Has anyone tried hacking the High Sierra Aquantia drivers for Sierra? Other options to consider?

Anything I should consider regarding 10GBASE-T/RJ-45 vs. SFP+ interfaces? I tend to prefer the former, but that may be mainly because SFP+ is largely an unknown to me. The 10GBASE-T and NBASE-T options do appear to be getting more common and at lower cost.

Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions,
Fred
 

Squuiid

macrumors 68000
Oct 31, 2006
1,636
981
Hey Folks—

I know there are a few other 10Gigabit Ethernet threads here, but I have some specific needs and thought maybe it would be better to start a fresh thread for them. Please forgive me if you disagree! :)

I would love to be able to deploy some of the new AQC-107 cards and have them "just work", but unfortunately, the macOS Server version 5.4 that you have to use w/ 10.13.x High Sierra (that's required to have those drivers included) is crippled and has had connectivity issues w/ file sharing.

So, due to certain server needs and constraints, I need to outfit one Mac Pro server running 10.6.8 Snow Leopard Server and one running 10.12.6 Sierra w/ 10GbE connectivity w/o breaking the bank. The Snow Leopard requirement is pretty significantly limiting, as many of the possibilities I've looked at do not have drivers to work back that far. So far, the main 2 options I've found are the Intel X520/X540 cards (adjusting firmware & using Small Tree drivers via @Squuiid's technique) for around $140 on eBay, or a SolarFlare card for around $50 on eBay. While I've already done the Intel route in the past for other setups, it seems to me that the cost and lack of firmware twiddling on the SolarFlare makes it a bit more appealing. Thoughts and experiences? Other suggestions?

For the 10.12 Sierra server, the options open up a bit. As far as 10GBASE-T options, it doesn't look like the dirt-cheap realm of the AQC-107 is available for that system, but AKiTiO has an NBASE-T card for around $180 new, so that's not too bad. Have also seen the StarTech mentioned (altho pricier), and I suppose the Intel X540 would be an option for this system as well. Has anyone tried hacking the High Sierra Aquantia drivers for Sierra? Other options to consider?

Anything I should consider regarding 10GBASE-T/RJ-45 vs. SFP+ interfaces? I tend to prefer the former, but that may be mainly because SFP+ is largely an unknown to me. The 10GBASE-T and NBASE-T options do appear to be getting more common and at lower cost.

Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions,
Fred
I'd go X540 but be wary of fake cards on eBay.
 

Kris Kelvin

macrumors regular
Dec 28, 2005
221
132
A cheap and realiable solution for Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra:
  • Get a used Chelsio T520-CR (2 x 10GbE SFP+) from eBay
  • Download the official macOS driver from chelsio.com
  • Get a SFP+ DAC cable (Direct Attach Copper, so no fiber)
  • Get an ethernet switch with SFP+ ports (much easier to find than 10GBase-T) and connect it
As for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard:
In theory, the older Chelsio drivers should work there, too, but I couldn't get it to function properly on 10.8, so I have doubts. Besides the cards you mentioned, some adapters from ATTO are also said to work, as well as Sonnet's discontinued Presto 10GbE card.

This being said, I'm not sure that 10GbE would provide huge speedups unless you have all flash storage in the Mac Pro. A simple stopgap solution might be to bond the two 1GbE interfaces together, doubling the bandwidth.

As for SFP+ vs. 10GBase-T: The former is proven enterprise technology and only recently became affordable. As long as you use DAC cables (copper-based), it's as simple as plugging in a cable. The biggest advantage of SFP/SFP+ is that it allows using optical transceivers for long cable runs. If you're interested in that, here's a great resource:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Optical Networking –
But Were Afraid to Ask


10GBase-T will be the future for "normal" use, but cheap switches with such ports are still rare.

Edit: Almost forgot, there's this affordable SFP+ to 10GBase-T adapter that might be of interest to you: Mikrotik S+RJ10. With this, you cou
 
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