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macOS Thunderbolt 10 Gigabit Networking Still Not Ready for Prime Time

Back in late 2015 I wrote about Thunderbolt networking. It remains worthwhile for casual burst usage, but it was and remains incompetently implemented, making it useless for any kind of serious usage.

I am disappointed to report that performance in macOS Sierra 10.12.5 remains only modestly better than gigabit ethernet (and only for short bursts)—it ought to approach ten times faster.

Unless Apple gets its act together on the driver in macOS High Sierra (what were they smoking in El Capitan and Sierra?), the 10 gigabit ethernet port on the iMac Pro won’t mean diddly squat.

Thunderbolt networking is actually slower than gigabit under sustained usage, as the data from disktester read-files shows, below. And that’s the best case, with multi-gigabyte files. Performance starts out at good but underwhelming speeds, then deteriorates by a factory of 4X slower to about 60 MiB/sec. It is also CPU-intensive, so a 4-core machine is not so hot—those 8/10/18 cores on an iMac Pro will come in handy.

diglloydIMAC:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ time disktester read-files /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP/Zeiss/
DiskTester 2.2.14 64-bit, diglloydTools 2.2.14, 2016-08-04 14:00
Copyright 2006-2016 DIGLLOYD INC. All Rights Reserved
Use of this software requires a license. See https://macperformanceguide.com/Software-License.html

OS X 10.12.5, 8 CPU cores, 65536MiB memory 2017-06-20 at 14:38:13404
disktester read-files /Volumes/Scratch/TEMP/Zeiss/
read-files params: Transfer size: 131072 KiB Iterations: 1 Async double buffers: false
Scanning "/Volumes/Scratch/TEMP/Zeiss"... 22 files in 1 folders.
---------------------------------- Iteration 1 --------------------------------- Reading 22 files totaling 56.7 GiB... IO method: single synchronous read buffer of size 128 MiB # Files Amt Read MiB/sec(all) MiB/sec(1) MiB/sec(10) MiB/sec(30) ... 2 5.00 GiB 264 119 119 119 4 8.14 GiB 122 119 118 118 4 12.3 GiB 184 119 118 118 5 14.9 GiB 137 107 114 114 6 17.4 GiB 108 51.1 93.7 93.7 ... 20 54.1 GiB 64.2 52.7 53.8 61.1 21 56.5 GiB 63.3 53.7 54.0 60.7 22 56.7 GiB 60.2 52.3 53.8 60.2 Data forks read: 22 Resource forks ignored. Total files read: 22 done. Read 22 files totaling 56.7 GiB in 964.37 seconds @ 60.2 MiB/sec Command "read-files" executed in 964.63 seconds on 2017-06-20 at 14:54:18037 real 16m4.657s user 0m0.059s sys 8m14.600s

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