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Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro

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Nat Jencks
Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:33:23 pm

Does anyone know if one can trunk the two gigabit ethernet ports on the new mac pro using port aggregation successfully?

I have a cheap little netgear GS108T which supposedly supports port aggregation and I have setup the switch and the ports on my mid 2010 mac pro, and also on my synology NAS to support port aggregation, and it works in terms of redundancy, but not increased bandwidth.

Some poking around online indicates that this may be just an OS X issue, or it could possibly be a hardware / driver issue tied to the specific network interfaces on the 2010 Mac Pro tower.

I'm curious if anyone out there has successfully gotten higher bandwidth from using port aggregation on the new mac pros using the built in ethernet?

best-
-Nat


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Bob Zelin
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:01:35 am

Synology has plenty of models that offer 10G cards, that would work wonderfully with your new Mac Pro as a server. but the Synology itself is a NAS server, that can serve out to your client computers without anything else, other than a 10G switch, if you have the 10G option for your Synology NAS array.

If you have the 1G model only for the Synology, you will NOT get better performance. If you are using the new Mac Pro as a client computer, and not the server, then doing link agg will give you NOTHING in performance, even if you have the 10G option on the Synology. A 1G connection to any Mac computer will not give you more than 100 MB/sec, and adding a second port will not increase this bandwidth unless you are using an AVID ISIS 5000 or 5500 system.

Synology, Netgear and QNAP all make 10G NAS systems that can be used for shared storage. If you own one of the cheaper Synology systems with only 1G connection, you simply cannot use this for shared storage - it just won't work.

There are no issues with doing port bonding on any MAC OS X computer - be it new Mac Pro's or old Mac Pro's. I have no idea of where that you have read that there are "issues" - but let me assure you, there are no issues.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Nat Jencks
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:20:17 am

Let me clarify the question. Forgetting the synology NAS for now, are you saying that if I connect two mac pros (either 2010 or 2013) to a netgear gs108t. And setup link aggregation on both machines and the switch I should or should not be able to do AFP and SMB file sharing between the two machine at ~180MBps? That's what I'm looking for. Not really looking for full fledged shared storage, just faster file sharing between the machines. I have one system as the main system and the other as an assistant station.
Best-
-Nat


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Bob Zelin
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:05:41 pm

Hi Nat -
I am sorry, but I am still not sure of your application. Let me be clear -

If you simply connect two computers (new Mac Pro's, or even two Mac Mini's) together with one single Ethernet cable, you can transfer data between them at about 100 MB/sec across a single Ethernet cable. If you had two new Mac Pro's or two old Mac Pro's (or a combination - one new and one old), and setup bonding on the ports, and hooked up TWO Ethernet cables (with or without the switch), your bandwidth would NOT increase - you would get 100 MB/sec transfer rate.

HOWEVER (and that's why I am dragging this out) - if you say "look, I have Mac Pro #1, and it's connected to disk drive #1, and I want to simply share disk drive #1 between Mac Pro #1 and Mac Pro #2 at the same time, so they can both use the same disk drive -
the answer is NO to any configuration. To do this without crashing Mac Pro #1, you need SOME COMPUTER to be a dedicated server (just a computer sitting there, with File Sharing on, and the disk drive connected to it). So if you wanted to spend almost zero money, buy an old Mac Pro on ebay, connect your disk drive to it, turn on file sharing, and connect each Mac that you have to ethennet port 1 and Ethernet port 2 on your "server", and now you have shared storage between your two computers, sharing the same disk drive.

But if you say "NO - I do not want to spend ONE PENNY - I just want to use the equipment that I have, and this old GS108 switch, and I am NOT spending $800 on an old Mac Pro on ebay - so can I do this" - well, the answer is NO.

If you want 180 MB/sec (it will be above 300 MB/sec), buy the 10G card for the Synology, and the 10G cards for the Mac computers (or Thunderbolt to 10G box for the new Mac pro or Thunderbolt iMac), and NOW, you will get INSANE speeds.

But once again, if you say "look moron - I want to do this and I want to spend ZERO money - what can I do ?" - I have a simple answer - NOTHING.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Nat Jencks
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 1:22:37 pm

[Bob Zelin] "If you had two new Mac Pro's or two old Mac Pro's (or a combination - one new and one old), and setup bonding on the ports, and hooked up TWO Ethernet cables (with or without the switch), your bandwidth would NOT increase - you would get 100 MB/sec transfer rate. "

Thats the part I don't understand. Why doesn't bandwidth increase when hooking up two ethernet cables and creating a bond? Using link aggregation typically DOES result in higher bandwidth.

Not so using OS X port bonding? Is OS X port bonding different than typical link aggregation?

Best-
-Nat

p.s.
side note: re my application, I have two workstations which currently have high speed DAS and that works OK for me. The DAS attached to each machine is providing 700MBps which works well for the DI applications I need it for. It not practical for me to try and replicate this performance in a SAN environment at the moment, and I'm not trying to.

But I do occasionally like to move files between the two systems. For example I might render out a film on the primary machine and then move the render to the secondary machine to start an encode of a bluray or DCP while I continue work on the primary machine.

I currently copy files between the two machines using standard gigabit ethernet using SMB protocol. It works fine. However it would be great to have copies go at twice the speed and I thought that was how typical LAG link aggregation worked.

Similarly I already have a cheap synology NAS DS412+ which I just use for nearline backup. Although I done NEED to have higher throughput on this device (or any of these devices) it would be really nice, and it does have two gigabit ethernet ports which can be configured for link aggregation as a single bonded port and which in theory (at least to my understanding) should provide higher bandwidth to the device.

Thanks Bob :)


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David Phillips
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 2:36:45 pm

Hey Nat,

I think the short simple answer is that Ethernet link aggregation is not quite like ports in a Fibre Channel fabric, where adding more ports equals a "bigger pipe". Link aggregation allows two NIC ports to share an IP address, but in the case of a file transfer, the network layer chooses one of the ports (usually via round robin) to send data over. If you have a Linux NAS, for instance, with 4x 1Gb ports bonded together, then the server can serve around 400 MB/s to clients via the single IP address, but point-to-point is going to be limited to the speed of NIC: 1Gb/10Gb/40Gb/100Gb.

-David


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Bob Zelin
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:01:26 pm

the way that it typically works ( for performance) is to bond the server ports to the switch (that supports link agg) - then you get more performance from the server to the switch - but the clients (when you bond them) does NOT increase the performance - only gives you redundancy, not increase in speed. The only exception I know of for this, is the trick (that I don't know) that AVID is doing with the ISIS 5000, where you run 2 cables to the ISIS switch (Dell Force 10 S25), and you get about 150 - 160 MB/sec. This process is NOT link aggregation - I don't know how they are doing it.

Want a quick answer of how to do it - buy 10 Gig cards for your Macs, and you will have a DRAMATIC increase in performance.

bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Nat Jencks
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:50:32 pm

[Bob Zelin] "the way that it typically works ( for performance) is to bond the server ports to the switch (that supports link agg) - then you get more performance from the server to the switch - but the clients (when you bond them) does NOT increase the performance - only gives you redundancy, not increase in speed. The only exception I know of for this, is the trick (that I don't know) that AVID is doing with the ISIS 5000, where you run 2 cables to the ISIS switch (Dell Force 10 S25), and you get about 150 - 160 MB/sec. This process is NOT link aggregation - I don't know how they are doing it. "

The process of normal port aggregation is supposed to increase bandwidth, but I 100% agree with you that in practice with Mac OS X it does not in fact seem to.

In Apple's document here:
http://support.apple.com/kb/PH14045

they say:
"Combining ports provides increased bandwidth by merging the bandwidth of the individual ports. Network traffic is also balanced across the ports."

But your totally right, it doesn't seem to work.
Oh well, this was just a rainy day project to bump up my network file copy speeds.

Thanks for your feedback Bob and confirming that what I am seeing is in fact "normal".

I'll wait a little and either go with a 10G ethernet SAN if I really need it!
best-
-Nat


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Mike Visconti
Re: Port Aggregation using built in dual ethernet ports on new 2013 Mac Pro
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:03:33 pm

The trick is WHERE it improves bandwidth. LAG doesn't increase bandwidth between two specific points (i.e. between a server and a particular machine, or two clients), but it DOES increase effective bandwidth to multiple destinations (i.e. a server to 4 different clients can all be fed at full gigabit speed using 4 LAG ports). A single file transfer is pushed out over one connection (but if you had multiple conenction types, ie mounted the NAS via SMB and AFP) you might be able to get two transfers going at full speed (or not, LACP isn't a particularly intelligent protocol, so its possible to have two connections over the same link, maybe because your email check went over the other link).

For point to point increases 10GbE is really the way to go-its amazing what it does to any bandwidth issues. It will likely put the bottleneck back on the NAS unit which likely won't be able to saturate the connection due to its relatively slow processor.


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