Most computers today aim to be as thin and sleek as possible while remaining powerful. Toward that end there are high speed ports, like Thunderbolt 3, that allow connection to hard drives, printers, monitors, etc. However, when connecting a team to shared storage Thunderbolt cables cannot be more than six feet from each other. To fix this issue storage, like the Jellyfish, connects over inexpensive 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) cables that can be run long distances. The problem is many of the thinner computers don’t have ethernet ports. Thankfully there are a number of companies who have made adapters from Thunderbolt to 10 GbE.
If the shared storage system has a 10GbE port, how will you connect to it? Here are a few indicators that you may need an adapter:
- If there is not an ethernet connection on the workstation.
- If there is a 1GbE but need a 10GbE.
- If more ethernet ports are needed on the workstation than what is provided.
10GbE Adapters 2018
It is easier than ever these days to connect to network based storage, especially with a LumaForge Jellyfish. If you have an iMac Pro, Mac Mini or PC with a 10GbE enabled port, you can plug directly into the Jellyfish without having a third-party network adapter and start editing 4K -8K media without transcoding or going to a proxy workflow.
Most video teams of varying sizes don’t have the latest and greatest computers but have Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. This is where the market offers various options for Ethernet to Thunderbolt 2/3 adapters that deliver 10GbE speeds at reasonable costs.
$300- $500 Range
Sonnet Twin 10GbE adapters are a workhorse that provide redundancy and extra ports to daisy chain. LumaForge’s clients who own older Mac Pros and iMacs use the Sonnet Twin 10G-TB2 product to get 10GbE speeds from their Jellyfish. Clients with an iMac 5K or a MacBook Pro use the Sonnet Twin 10G-TB3. Both Sonnet Twin adapters have dual 10G ethernet ports and dual Thunderbolt connections on the adapter itself. These adapters have external power sources which enables the unit to provide up to 15 watts of power. There are two benefits to the adapters with external power sources:
1) The connection to the workstation is exclusively used to move data which leads to higher speeds.
2) The new MacBook Pros can be powered by the Thunderbolt 3 connection but it will sacrifice the data transfer.
A similar option is the Promise SanLink2 which also has twin ethernet and Thunderbolt 2 ports. Although this is an option that’s on the market, we tend to see better performance with the Sonnet Twin adapters.
Thunderbolt 3 Adapters Under $250
In the last year there has been an influx of cost-effective (ranging from $170-$250) adapters to connect your Jellyfish to a Thunderbolt 3 enabled computer. These adapters are smaller in size, bus powered and travel friendly. Bus power is a slower connection because the connection is splitting power to the adapter and the data transfers. Based on observed evidence the AKiTio has given us the best performance over 10GbE. The design gives the adapter air flow to keep it functioning constantly without the surprise of heat impacted performance. If the AKiTiO is out of your budget, the runners- up would be the Sonnet Solo and OWC’s TB3 adapters which visually look identical and give similar performance to the AKiTiO. After about an hour of editing in our lab we found that both the Sonnet Solo and OWC TB3 adapters began to get hot. Lastly the Promise SANLink 3 is an even smaller footprint but the performance is closer to 5GbE rather than 10GbE. All of these options have one thing in common, they are quiet and don’t add to the noise pollution of ones edit bay or work area.
All of these options are ways to get over the 1GbE hump and into faster pipelines. All of our lab tests were done using an iMac 5K with High Sierra OS. Keep in mind that adapter speed results differ across many variables including computer models, operating systems and Ethernet Cable types used to connect a Jellyfish to the adapter. You can have two iMacs from the same year with different components which lead to different results.
The Jellyfish workflow server by LumaForge comes with multiple 10GbE ports and the option to add more when needed. This is an important factor to consider for video teams intending to scale.
Moreover, when connecting with adapters to the Jellyfish, we recommend direct connection of the Jellyfish to the adapter for highest speeds possible. Our preferred adapters include the Sonnet Twin 10 G-TB2 or 10 G-TB3 or the AKiTiO Thunderbolt 3.