Thunderbolt 3 to SPF+ Options

fmatthew5876

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Mar 20, 2017
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I was considering options for thunderbolt 3 to SPF+. The idea is to give your laptop easy 10g network access. This can help speed up syncing media to your laptop for travel.

You could go as high as 40g SPF+ before saturating Thunderbolt 3.

This looks like the ultimate docking station. You could put a serious network card in this thing and have taps into your wired network fiber where ever you wanted in the house.

Buy AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe Box T3PB-T3DIS-AKTU Thunderbolt PCIe 2x TB3 USB-C, 1x PCI-Express-v3.0-x16 FHHL (x4 speed, 25W) - Windows Only

Can anyone tried a device like this before?
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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I looked into it last summer. Proved it works (with some help from Intel guys). Too expensive.
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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What I think would be really cool - and could be done - would be for one of the low-end switch vendors (Netgear, Linsys, TP-Link, etc) to take one of the low-end merchant silicon switch chips and build a "switch" using Thunder-3 for the PHY (and maybe one or two 10Gbase-t or SFP+ ports just to make it easy to integrate into larger things). You'd have something more expensive than a Base-T switch, but the "nic" on the other end is already getting built into lots of HW. You could do some really fun local cluster designs.

But - for commercial reasons - Intel would probably refuse the license you need to use the Thunder-3 PHYs.
 

pyro_

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Oct 4, 2013
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I have been looking at those for use with a video card bit of a pain to find then in stock right now though at a decent price
 

fmatthew5876

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Mar 20, 2017
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What I think would be really cool - and could be done - would be for one of the low-end switch vendors (Netgear, Linsys, TP-Link, etc) to take one of the low-end merchant silicon switch chips and build a "switch" using Thunder-3 for the PHY (and maybe one or two 10Gbase-t or SFP+ ports just to make it easy to integrate into larger things). You'd have something more expensive than a Base-T switch, but the "nic" on the other end is already getting built into lots of HW. You could do some really fun local cluster designs.

But - for commercial reasons - Intel would probably refuse the license you need to use the Thunder-3 PHYs.
Its an interesting idea, although I think for a laptop an actual docking station is more useful. Not only for 10g wired network, but displays, card readers, audio out for speakers, laptop charging, etc..

The ideal is you just plug one thunderbolt 3 cable in your laptop (or likewise anyone else's laptop), and you've got all the connectivity. Adding thunderbolt to a switch would mean I still need my regular dock connection and the switch connection.

That being said, you could just plug the thunderbolt switch port into a port on your docking station in a daisy chain fashion. Then you avoid the need for an expensive 10g or 40g nic.
 

billc.cn

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Oct 6, 2017
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The last time I looked at it, there's a Chinese Thunderbolt board (single PCB) with a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot on the side and can be had for about 1000 RMB. You can see it being used as part of this Thunderbolt NVMe adapter. However, I don't think you can get that kind of price outside China.

Coupled with a ~£50 10G NIC and maybe a 3-D printed enclosure, a Thunderbolt 10G thing can be had for around £200.
 

fmatthew5876

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Mar 20, 2017
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So I went and bought the Akitio Thunderbolt3 dock. It works with my KVM and multiple screens using Displayport MST. Unlike my old OWC dock, it charges my HP Spectre x360 laptop over thunderbolt. I had an issue (only needed to update laptop bios) and their support was super quick in answering.

Finally the real test. My network topology for iperf is like this:

[iperf client] Windows 10 laptop ---(Thunderbolt3)--> Akitio Dock --(Cat6e RJ45 cable) --> Microtik S+RJ10 transceiver --- (SPF+)--> TPLink T1700G-28TQ --- (SPF+ DAC Cable)--> FreeBSD 11.2 [iperf server]

Running iperf client with 5 threads, and 512K Tcp window size on the server, I get 9.37Gbits/sec.

Solution found. Really happy with this product.
 
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