This is admittedly a terribly newbie question, and I'm not a professional sysadmin. I have however recently been considering a OS X Server based network setup for a small lab (OS X Server because I'd likely be press-ganged into adminstering the thing and its by far what I'm most familiar with).

The new ThunderBolt port on the Mac Mini server (and I suspect the Mac Pro server if/when Apple gets around to updating it) seems pretty speedy, and there's at least two lines of RAID setups being introduced using the interface. Both both are pretty conspicuously desktop/workstation targeted setups, and both companies (Sonnet and whoever makes the Pegasus line) don't have rack mount ThunderBolt setups, but do have ways to hook a Thunderbolt based machine into a FibreChannel or SATA-based setup using some sort of adapter.

Is that likely just that the market for a purely ThunderBolt server storage solution is probably pretty damned small and its easier to just make an adapter of some sort, or is there something about the interface that makes it unsuitable for the task at hand?

closed as not constructive by Zoredache, Lucas Kauffman, mgorven, Chris S Jun 28 '12 at 18:16

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    The two 10Gb bi-di lanes in TB aren't really all that fast when you line them up next to a 4x SAS 6Gb (24Gb total) or 56Gb IB connection. While it's fast for Apple technology, "real" server are already well ahead of it. – Chris S Jun 28 '12 at 18:16

Save your money and buy a NAS

If you're not using the Thunderbolt array as a DAS (Direct Attached Storage) you'll waste any benefits you may gain from the Thunderbolt interface on the network pipe.

For example lets say you want to deploy a:

Thunderbolt -> Mac Mini -> Network switch

The connection between the Thunderbolt array and the Mac Mini will be blazing fast but you lose any speed benefits where the Mac Mini connects to the network switch.

The maximum throughput is equal to the maximum speed of a single Ethernet interface on a Mac Mini.

If your ethernet can push it's maximum theoretical throughput of 1 gigabit/s they your maximum transfer speed will be ~100 Megabytes/s. It doesn't matter that Thunderbolt is theoretically measured to be 10x faster than that, the network will always be a bottleneck.

You could increase the size of the network pipe by adding more ethernet interfaces as a lot of NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices do, but not with Mac hardware alone.

  • Where did you get 128Mbps from? 1000Mbps/8 is 125MBps. Subtract the overhead for Ethernet and TCP and you get about 100MBps as a maximum throughput value. – MDMarra Jun 28 '12 at 19:56
  • @MDMarra You're right, I've corrected the answer to reflect your feedback. – Evan Plaice Jun 28 '12 at 21:46
  • @MDMarra - 128 comes from 1024/8, the real gigabit ;) – Mark Henderson Jun 28 '12 at 22:15
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    Heh, except you know full well that GbE is rated at 1000, not 1024. Damn smart-mouthed mod! :) – MDMarra Jun 28 '12 at 22:17

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