Thunderbolt aggregation for an external enclosure possible?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Gav Mack, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    Such as an external enclosure hypothetically to a nMP with 4 thunderbolt cables, can they be aggregated/bonded so external GPU's, SATA sleds can be a possibility?

    I have no idea whether TB or TB2 can do this so I'm asking..
  2. cbm macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    Any Thunderbolt disk array that supports JBOD will do this, with one Thunderbolt cable.
  3. wonderspark, Jan 31, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I take the question to mean, can you aggregate the Thunderbolt ports such that multiple cables with max throughput of x4 lane are combined to produce x8 or x12 lane throughput.

    I know it can be done, since one (to remain unnamed until I have permission to name them) production company built a custom device (at a huge price) that aggregates Thunderbolt in that manner. I believe the price of that device was somewhere north of $100,000.

    EDIT: I meant device instead of switch.
  4. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    You can probably use OS X Disk Utility to build software raid from multiple drives connected from multiple cables.
  5. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Perhaps there's some issue with TB that might prevent this I'm not aware of but a simple PCIe switch (eg. PLX 8616 chip) should do the job. Unless I grossly misunderstand, all we're talking about here is having the 4 lanes from two different TB controllers aggregated/switched to present a single x8 interface to some RAID controller, GPU, or whatever else.


    That's definitely possible... but not really what the OP was after (I suspect)... I think he's inquiring about using devices with x8 bus interfaces across two TB controllers and not having things bottleneck.
  6. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I've read that the Thunderbolt 2 spec (at least) can support this, I just haven't seen it implemented in practice.

    Although as someone else mentioned, for disks, you have JBOD which can do the same thing, and TB2 is fast enough for multiple disks.
  7. cbm macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    I clearly misinterpreted the question with this reply.

    It's hard to imagine a use for this sort of "link aggregation" other than for graphics cards. Thunderbolt is already faster than any drive, RAID, even SSD RAIDs.
  8. AidenShaw, Jan 31, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    You really should look at dual-path 16 Gbps Fibre-Channel arrays before making such an ignorant statement. And many single path 16 Gbps FC setups would deliver real world performance better than T-Bolt.

    Or at least qualify it by saying "faster than any other cheap desktop interconnect".....

    I'm getting over 3 GBps from my MSA2040 arrays.... T-Bolt would choke at far slower speeds. And, by the way, the dual port 16 Gbps Fibre Channel cards are PCIe 3.0 x8 cards - equivalent to PCIe 2.0 x16. Makes T-Bolt 2's PCIe 2.0 x4 seem like something from Toys-R-Us.

    (Note: "ignorant" is not by itself an insult, it merely says that you aren't aware of more capable systems that are actually shipping and in use. One definition from The Free Dictionary is "unaware or uninformed".)
  9. cbm macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    Fair enough.

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