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Ethernet Way Faster over Thunderbolt 2

Current gigabit ethernet offers 1000 Mbps (megabits per second). Networking over Thunderbolt 2 makes that 10X faster, about as fast as an extremely fast SSDs can go.

There has been some support for Thunderbolt networking already, but Intel has announced support for Mac to PC networking over Thunderbolt 2:

Thunderbolt Networking, emulating an Ethernet connection environment, provides 10GbE throughput between two computers.

Already released on the Mac with OS X Mavericks*, a PC driver will soon be available to connect two PCs together or a PC to a Mac, adding a new level of workflow flexibility for media professionals.

By offering simple and fast file sharing, Thunderbolt Networking enables backup or upgrade across two computers like never before, using existing cables and connectors. A demonstration of Thunderbolt Networking will available in the Intel Zone of the StudioXperience booth at NAB (Booth # – SU621).

It’s unforunate that the speed is limited to 10 gigabit given that Thunderbolt 2 can go more than 2X that speed. But apparently the solution integrates with existing 10 Gbps protocols and drivers. On the other hand, it’s not clear that the networking stack in OS X can deliver even 10 Gbps; all layers have to run at very high efficiency (minimal overhead and latency) for the bandwidth to actually be fully exploited.

The missing link that MPG sees is a Thunderbolt hub of some kind, so that one does not have to daisy-chain devices together (easier and more flexible to cable to a hub and spoke pattern).

The implications are profound for high performance computing: that kind of bandwidth allows large data sets to be shuffled around so that more CPUs can be thrown at a job. Scalability has its limits, but for compute intensive jobs, having 10X the bandwidth expands the problem/solution space considerably.


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