Saturday, November 2, 2013

OSX 10.9 Thunderbolt Bridging Follow-up. Three Way Bridge

A few post back, I broke the news about IP Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt bridging. This is a follow-up post. I decided to see if a multi-computer, multi Thunderbolt bridge was possible using just cables.

I finally installed Mavericks on my 27" iMac and decided to do a multiple Thunderbolt bridge tests.
Here is the set-up.

In short, "it WORKS!" It is really plug-n-play. In my initial trial, I assigned IPs. It is not necessary to manually assign IPs.

I connected a 2012 13" MacBook Pro, 2013 15" Macbook Pro Retina, 2012 27" iMac. Both the Retina   Macbook and iMac have dual Thunderbolt ports.

The Retina MBP acted as the hub for both the 13" and iMac. Once connected, all the machines can see each other. The 13" with it's single Thunderbolt connected to the 15" could see and access the iMac.

13" Macbook Pro

15" Retina

The 15" shows both my Thunderbolt ports active

Now for the tests.

On the 13" Macbook Pro, I could ping, mount and connect to my 27" iMac which was connected via the Retina 15".

As I mentioned above, I didn't need to assign any IP addresses. I called the machines up by their host names and IP address. So, for the 13", all I had to do was type in afp:// or afp://iMac27.local and I was accessing the iMac.

Unfortunately, there is a small penalty loss when you go through another machine.

The first two iPerfs were the 13" connecting to the iMac.
5.24 Gbits/sec and 650 MB/sec.

When accessing the 15" Retina Macbook directly, iPerf jumped up to 7.16 Gbit/sec and 859 MB/sec.

I then pulled one of the cables off from the Macbook Retina and connected it to the iMac's second Thunderbolt port. Voila. It works. However, both the 13" and iMac's IP address re-assigned themselves. This was completely plug-n-play. I did not have to assign routes or anything to get the machines to see one another.

Still, these are impressive numbers no matter how you look at them. Now, this is definite proof a multi-user Thunderbolt IP network is viable.

Someone needs to make a Thunderbolt IP switch, hub, router ASAP! Lastly, Thunderbolt cables are dropping in price. I've gotten a few for under $25-30.


  1. What kind of real-world sustained rate are you getting for big file xfers? If you connect both TB ports of the iMac and rMBP together, are you allowed to bond the channels together?

    1. Haven't tried bonding (LAGG) using dual ports. As for copies, they are dependent on source and disk write speeds. my iMac has a spinning hard drive so it will only write as fast as it could. My two Macbooks have SSDs and copying over AFP is surprisingly fast.

  2. Man i've been trying to connect for last two days but it couldn't get it worked. I've followed all of your provided settings. but when i copy/paste a file it went over the wifi network. If i turn the wifi off i can't connect to one mac to the other. What could be wrong.


    i tried with the manually settings too but didn't work.

    Please help!