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  • Thunderbolt 3 extension / Preparing for New Mac Pro integration

    Posted by Jeremy Garchow on June 17, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    This may not be the right place to ask this, but … yeah.

    Let’s go back in time.

    Our old cheese grater MacPro’s lived in a server closet. Everything was extended via GigE via extenders from Geffen, DVI repeaters were used, DVI repeaters were used :), and all video was routed through patch panels and generally it was great. 80s and 90s analog practices were in full effect.

    Along came the Tube. The size and quiet of the Tube allowed us to keep the tubes in each edit room. Optical Thunderbolt 2 cables allowed us to extend the fiber channel back to the server room were we have PCIe enclosures that connect everything together to the storage. Since the computer is in the room, wireless Bluetooth accessories are available (keyboards and such), connecting monitors and video is all done locally per room and not running back to a central patch bay, and back to each room. We junked tons of cable, metal, and overall lightened the load and complication tremendously. We literally have an optical thunderbolt 2 cable and some GigE running to each room and it’s pretty awesome and clean, and you don’t even know the Tubes are there as they are generally hidden behind video or computer monitors.

    Enter, the NCGMP, which is the New Cheese Grater MacPro, or NicGimp (it’s a working title). This will be our first foray in to Thunderbolt 3. As far as I know, there is no such things as an optical Thunderbolt 3 cable. So, this leaves us some options.

    1) Put the NicGimps in the rooms.
    – This will then extend storage back to the server closet over 10GigE or something, and allow Bluetooth keyboard/mouse/tablet interaction in each room. Easy enough as it’s what we are currently doing.
    – The downside is that we will now have hulking MacPros in each room. They might be loud(?), definitely are going to be hot (temperature wise, (as well as looks wise)), and most everything will be Thunderbolt 3. We will need new docks and cables and adapters. Ok.

    2) Put the NicGimps in the server closet.
    – This alleviates the hotness and space requirements for a hulking machine in each room.
    – The downside is very limited long run extension of Thunderbolt 3. Bluetooth won’t work. And now we have to run lots of cable to overcome these limitations.

    My question. Is scenario 2 even feasible? How do you extend thunderbolt 3 and all the data/video that goes with it? If you can’t, how do you extend wireless keyboards, the video spigot for the new ProDisplay, etc?



    Erik Lindahl replied 4 years, 8 months ago 4 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • Oliver Peters

    June 17, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    I believe TB3 optical cables are coming. Some interim approaches until then. You can use TB2 opticals with Apple TB2/3 adapters at both ends. Or you can use a Sonnet TB3/10GigE adapter at one of the ends (or both).

    I would not assume that the 2019 MP will be too loud or too hot to put into the room. There are enclosures designed for recording studios, of course. However, most modern PC workstation cases have been designed to be cool and quiet, so I can’t imagine anything less from Apple. However, that may not be the case with peripheral gear. For example, I’ve found the BMD UltraStudio 4K products to be too loud for in the suite. Better in a rack.

    But, I would recommend putting as much as possible into the server room and then extending displays, keyboards, monitoring, etc into the room.

    – Oliver

    Oliver Peters –

  • Bob Zelin

    June 17, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    all these companies ! Man oh man oh man !

    I not only saw Corning Thunderbolt 3 optical cables, but a 10 meter Thunderbolt 3 optical cable was tested at the QNAP booth at NAB 2019, and it worked perfectly.

    With that said – I just did a google search on this – and NOTHING –

    this is the current Corning site on the optical cables –

    and not one mention of the T3 optical cable – nor a “coming soon” –

    what gives ?

    Bob Zelin

    Bob Zelin
    Rescue 1, Inc.

  • Jeremy Garchow

    June 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    [Oliver Peters] “I believe TB3 optical cables are coming. “

    [Bob Zelin] “I not only saw Corning Thunderbolt 3 optical cables, but a 10 meter Thunderbolt 3 optical cable was tested at the QNAP booth at NAB 2019, and it worked perfectly.

    This is good to know, thanks guys.

    Can bluetooth be extended? Kinda hooked on wireless kb/m/tablet

  • Erik Lindahl

    June 26, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    If we do get Thunderbolt 3 extensions over fiber, a dock at the reviving end could hold a Bluetooth > USB dongle probably. Not sure how well these work though.

    The Thunderbolt 2 fiber extensions have been a bit flacky.

  • Bob Zelin

    June 26, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Erik –
    are you telling me that your Corning Thunderbolt 2 fiber extensions have been flacky –
    or is it another extender ?

    Bob Zelin

    Bob Zelin
    Rescue 1, Inc.

  • Erik Lindahl

    June 27, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Yeah, the Corning Thunderbolt 2 fiber have had issues – even known issues by Corning. Apparently Intel doesn’t have a specifik spec for how much heat you are allowed to dissipate via the TB3 connection. Hence these cables can run quite hot. For copper this isn’t a issue, for fiber as it turns out it can be. We’ve changed cables twice now in one suite before giving up on them.

    Cornings solution is routing the cable via boxes that don’t generate so much heat and best practice is not using them in 24/7 operations. Back in 2016-2017 I talked to them at IBC and they noted IF they would design a TB3 version of the cables they’d probably go about it differently to avoid the risk of the above issue.

    The ironic part of the above is the item with most cause of the above is the nMP 2013. It can get really hot on it’s backplate where all the connectors are. At first glance this should be far less of an issue with the MP2019 for sure.

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