At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show this week in Las Vegas, a number of vendors in the Storage Area Networking (SAN) market introduced new Thunderbolt adapters for cross-platform Mac and PC workflows. Some of the products will leverage Intel's Thunderbolt Networking driver technology introduced earlier at the show.
Macs have a long history with SANs, which are very fast networks that connect hosts and storage devices using storage buses instead of standard networking cables. In earlier ages of Macintosh, these connections were made over SCSI, then FireWire, Fibre Channel, and recently Thunderbolt. These speedy networks have been primarily used in video editing and sci-tech workflows. The products announced this week were demonstrated in 4K video production workflows.
Longtime cross-platform SAN vendor ATTO announced a line of Thunderbolt 2 adapters called ThunderLink Desklink, offering 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel, optical 10Gbps Ethernet, and copper 10GBASE-T, SAS/SATA connections.
ATTO's ThunderLink Desklink Device enables reliable access to data intensive applications such as 2K, 4K and 3D stereoscopic film, multiple layers of complex, uncompressed real-time effects and high-definition (HD) video and audio editing. ATTO's exclusive Advanced Data Streaming (ADS) technology provides the fastest, most consistent time-to-data, delivering the best-in-industry aggregate bandwidth and predictable data transfers for high performance applications or mobile platform users.
Advanced Data Streaming is ATTO's latency management technology used in some of the company's SAN and RAID products. It is also found in ATTO's Thunderstream RAID Thunderbolt-to-SAS/SATA controller box, which supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10, and hot-plugging for drives. Its support for Windows will be dependent on the release of SAN drivers from Intel.
Meanwhile, Promise Technology introduced its SANLink2 10G, a Thunderbolt 2 10GBaseT bridge adapter, and its SANLink2 8G FC, which connects systems to a Fibre Channel SAN. At NAB, the company demonstrated the SANLink2 10G on a new Mac Pro and an Hewlett-Packard Z820, running in a 4K video SAN workflow.
Until OS X Mavericks, the built-in SAN networking in Macs (running OS X) was based around FireWire and called IP over FireWire. It is a setting in the Network pane in System Preferences. This same interface is now found in OS X Mavericks for what is called Thunderbolt Bridging. After adding a network, users can select Thunderbolt from the list. Instant SAN.
I found an interesting thread in the VMWare Communities site about Thunderbolt Bridging. It rus down a number of solutions to get the VM virtual machine to connect to the Mac's Thunderbolt port. One post said VM can currently bridge only to the Ethernet or Wi-Fi interfaces. Poster dlhotka offered a suggestion to the community:
VMWare doesn't virtualize Thunderbolt devices yet... and they don't comment on upcoming features. But it's a good item to put in a request for :-)