Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 supports peer-to-peer Mac connections; feature available now in OS X Mavericks

“Intel is bringing peer-to-peer computer networking capabilities to Thunderbolt 2 with a feature that allows Macs — and soon, PCs — to connect directly for high-speed data transfers,” Agam Shah reports for IDG News Service.

“With the Thunderbolt Networking feature, users can connect two Macs for a peer-to-peer connection and then transfer files directly. That reduces the need to use an external hard drive, USB stick or a local network for file transfers between computers,” Shah reports. “For now, the feature is available for connections between Macs through the OS X Mavericks operating system, but users will soon be able to establish PC-to-PC or PC-to-Mac connections when a driver for Microsoft’s Windows OS is released.”

“The new feature is a key addition to Thunderbolt, which has struggled to find adoption due to the high prices of cables and accessories,” Shah reports. “ntel said Thunderbolt Networking emulates an Ethernet connection and provides throughput similar to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.”

Read more in the full article here.

18 Comments

  1. “The new feature is a key addition to Thunderbolt, which has struggled to find adoption due to the high prices of cables and accessories,” Shah reports. “ntel said Thunderbolt Networking emulates an Ethernet connection and provides throughput similar to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.”

    I don’t know much. But, if similar to wha’ we already have, Ethernet, wha’s the scoop? I told you I don’t know much. I don’t.

      1. Thanks Jeff!

        1000BASE-T Ethernet = 1 Gigabit Ethernet. This has been standard on ALL desktop Macs for many years. It’s still the standard on the new Mac Pro. It used to be the standard on MacBooks & MBPs, but Ethernet is gone on the current lineup of MBs. MB Air relies on Wi-Fi networking. MBP offers Wi-Fi and Thunderbolt 2 networking.

        1 Gigabit Ethernet has been standard on Windows boxes as well. However, on desktop PCs, I’m seeing a trend of not not offering Ethernet. Instead they rely on Wi-Fi networking only, which tops out at 0.3 Gigabit (300 Mbps). Meanwhile, it is common for PC laptops to still have 1 Gigabit Ethernet. This is oddly the opposite of Apple’s strategy. I personally can’t make much sense of it.

        Some references:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigabit_Ethernet
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10-gigabit_Ethernet

    1. Thunderbolt’s theoretical throughput is similar to 10Gbps Ethernet, which exists, but TB, while expensive, is cheaper than 10GigE.

      But is only useful over much, much shorter throws than 10GigE.

  2. I suspect Apple will limit the types of files that can be transferred all in the name of “bringing the customer the best possible experience”. Kinda like how iOS Airdrop and OSX Airdrop compatibility enhance our experience.

  3. I’m already running 10G Ethernet over Thunderbolt on my iMac but best throughput using iperf is around 5Gbps – do you need Thunderbolt 2 to get true 10Gbps?

    1. You have it now with Thunderbolt 1 and Mavericks if your system has TB1. It’s just not as fast as it would be with TB2.

      Intel is providing *software* drivers for Windows based PCs in order to implement what Mac users running Mavericks have now (and have had for a while). If your Windows based PC has a TB2 connection, right now it does not support this type of direct PC-to-PC connection. Intel’s coming software drivers will allow this to be implemented on those Windows based PCs. It is yet to be seen if the Intel implementation for Windows will be backward compatible with TB1.

  4. If it emulates Gigabit Ethernet, than it would be slowed down by network packeting. The fastest it could be using network packets is about as fast as Gigabit Ethernet or Firewire 800 already run now peer-to-peer – which far less than Gigabit Ethernet’s theoretical 10Gbps maximum, and seems slow by Thunderbolt 2 standards. Either I’m missing something, or this is useless. Maybe it’s a stepping stone for something in worthwhile in Thunderbolt 3?

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