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Thunderbolt Networking: Very Poor Performance with Sustained Usage

OWC offers high quality Thunderbolt cables in red/green/blue/black colors from 0.5 to 3.0 meters, as well as Thunderbolt optical cables from 10.0 to 30.0 meters in length.

MPG has been using Thunderbolt networking for opening multi-gigabyte Photoshop files. However, while that has been working to great satisfaction, it is a sporadic usage and does not represent performance under sustained usage.

Further testing shows that Thunderbolt 10-gigabit networking is not ready for prime time; performance drops well below gigabit ethernet speeds after only 10GB or so of transfers. See updated performance results (sustained heavy load).

In a nutshell, Thunderbolt 2 networking on OS X is unsuitable for tasks like uncompressed video editing, because speed drops well below even gigabit ethernet speeds after only 10GB or so of transfers.

It’s a wonder that Apple would enable support for such a fundamentally flawed half-baked implementation. But it is entirely consistent with the Apple Core Rot problems running amok at Apple.

Gigabit ethernet can sustain ~115 MB/sec with large files. Observe that 10-gigabit Thunderbolt 2 networking drops down as low as 85MB/sec very quickly. Just as bad, it exhibits highly variable performance, making it unsuitable for many uses.

diglloydIMAC:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ disktester read-files -b double -i 10 /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP
DiskTester 2.2.12 64-bit, diglloydTools 2.2.13, 2016-01-24 19:20
Copyright 2006-2016 DIGLLOYD INC. All Rights Reserved
Use of this software requires a license. See https://macperformanceguide.com/Software-License.html
OS X 10.11.3, 8 CPU cores, 65536MiB memory
2016-02-04 at 09:06:16469
disktester read-files -b double -i 10 /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP
read-files params:
Transfer size:        65536 KiB per buffer
Iterations:           10
Async double buffers: true
Scanning "/Volumes/Scratch/TEMP"...327
327 files in 24 folders.
---------------------------------- Iteration 1 ---------------------------------
Reading 327 files totaling 205.1 GiB...
IO method: dual asynchronous read buffers each of size 64 MiB
# Files     Amt Read MiB/sec(all)   MiB/sec(1)  MiB/sec(10)  MiB/sec(30)
8     4.92 GiB     1102         1028         1018         1018 <== over 1000MB/sec, good!
18     9.04 GiB     1031         1001          840          931    
18     9.66 GiB     1102         1001          840          931    
20    10.17 GiB      521         95.2          334          515 <== down to 95MB/sec!    
21    10.68 GiB      461          104          279          450    
22     11.2 GiB      401         80.2          225          387    
24     11.7 GiB      325         98.0          169          322    
25     12.2 GiB      305         94.2          151          299    
27     12.8 GiB      274          137          128          271    
28     13.3 GiB      267          122          120          262    
29     13.8 GiB      255         88.7         98.2          248    
31     14.4 GiB      232         99.1         98.0          230    
32     14.9 GiB      224         89.0         99.2          221    
34     15.6 GiB      215          127          104          179    
35     16.1 GiB      211          104          105          169    
36     16.6 GiB      208         99.5          105          162    
37     17.1 GiB      191         91.5          100          150    
38     17.6 GiB      188         84.8         97.2          143    
39     18.0 GiB      183         82.5         96.5          137    
41     18.6 GiB      176          115         96.7          129    
42     19.1 GiB      175          110         98.5          125    
43     19.6 GiB      172         85.0         96.2          121    
45     20.1 GiB      164         97.6         91.8          113    
46     20.8 GiB      164          104         92.2          110    
48     21.4 GiB      160          122         95.4          104    
48     21.9 GiB      164          122         95.4          104    
48     22.4 GiB      168          122         95.4          104    
48     22.9 GiB      171          122         95.4          104    
48     23.4 GiB      175          122         95.4          104    
48     23.9 GiB      179          122         95.4          104    
48     24.4 GiB      183          122         95.4          104  
...

 

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