Thunderbolt Networking supports peer-to-peer Mac connections

Thunderbolt Networking supports peer-to-peer Mac connections

Summary: Thunderbolt Networking allows two computers to connect to each other directly without having to first create a network. It's available now in Thunderbolt 2 Macs running Mavericks and a Windows driver is due by the end of June.

Thunderbolt bandwidth comparison - Jason O'Grady

Intel announced 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in 2013 and this year it's taking it up a notch. 

At NAB 2014 in Las Vegas, Intel announced Thunderbolt Networking, a way to directly connect computers with a standard Thunderbolt cable. Thunderbolt Networking connects two Thunderbolt 2 computers to create a peer-to-peer connection allowing users to easily transfer files without the interim step of copying files to an external hard drive or having to create a local network. 

Thunderbolt 2 is supported in the Late-2013 MacBook Pro Retina and the 2014 Mac Pro, and PCs like HP's Z Workstation line. Both Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 support Target Disk Mode in Mavericks, allowing users to connect a second Mac as an external hard drive. 

Thunderbolt 2 is currently used to connect to cameras, hard drives, and 4K monitors (like the LG 31MU95). ThunderBolt allows the Mac Pro to drive up to three 4K displays at once. 

According to Intel, Thunderbolt Networking emulates an Ethernet connection and provides 10GbE throughput between two computers. The Thunderbolt Networking driver is included in OS X Mavericks (10.9) and a PC driver will be available "later this quarter" according to Intel's Thunderbolt Marketing Director Jason Ziller.

A video of Thunderbolt Networking in action from NAB 14 is available at Engadget.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Intel, Networking

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  • How is this special ?

    this could be done by simply using a cross-over cable. The only special thing I see is the speed, providing they do actually get to 10 GB/s, which isn't a speed you would achieve with any run of the mill nic inside a computer.
    • If you only have one network adapter on each computer,

      all you're doing is allowing two computers to talk to each other after spending time to make the feature work. Even so, the only real advantage that TBolt2 networking gives you over gigabit over a cat6 crossover is when you're talking SSDs or RAID enclosures that could easily saturate a gigabit connection; few rotational hard drives can saturate a gigabit connection, even in this day and age.
      • Yeah that's right

        I forgot, your run of the mil sata drive isn't going to take advantage of the full speed potential anyway.
  • 1394, is that you?

    I remember doing this with FireWire cables over a decade ago. I was really bummed when they took it out after Vista.

    • Firewire networking is still available in Mac OS.

      Apple was always like "why mess with a good thing?" when it came to the nuts and bolts side of things.
  • People wanting TB2 speeds will have SSDs

    The point of speed, is to have it when you need it. Clearly, people are still shopping for equipment based on price, not based on the speed or benefits that they can get from it. Cheap i3 or Pentium computers for less than $400 are everywhere, and some people are buying them, or tablets. When you actually produce data of some nature, such as video or audio at large scales, then the slow speeds of hard drives and GigE networking makes it hard to be productive without living on a single device.

    Sharing media and/or backups and streaming to other devices is where we are at now. Network speeds need to go up a couple of orders of magnitude, along with storage speeds, or we'll feel like we have floppy disks...