Does Thunderbolt support the same kind of network architecture that FireWire does?

If you have a Mac with two FireWire ports, you can daisy-chain FireWire devices in a loop with the Mac at both ends of the chain. Then you can disconnect any single connection in the chain, and all devices will continue to work so long as they're ultimately still connected to the Mac.

Now with the Retina MacBook Pro's two Thunderbolt ports, it's possible to try this out, but does anyone know if this should work?

  • Did not realize you could do that with firewire, what happens when you hook up a firewire hardrive in a chain between two Macs? Does it mount on both? – MrDaniel Jun 28 '12 at 19:04
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    I think it mounts on the first one - I haven't tried this in awhile. – Cajunluke Jun 28 '12 at 19:09
  • What do you mean by net topology. A daisy chain of devices with a mac on each end? Or Peer to Peer? – MrDaniel Jun 29 '12 at 14:55
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    @MrDaniel A daisy chain with the same Mac on both ends. (There could also be branches and other loops in the middle.) – Cajunluke Jun 29 '12 at 15:01
  • How about between two different Macs – MrDaniel Jun 29 '12 at 15:27

Since Thunderbolt is based on PCI Express, it appears that it is possible to connect to multiple hosts using the PCI express standard. However there may be additional software or hardware required to do such bridging of multiple hosts sharing multiple devices, whether this is true on Thunderbolt or not is not clear.

Things to look into are Non-transparent Bridging of PCI Express and subsequently Non-transparent Bridging of Thunderbolt.

PCI Express and therefore Thunderbolt are both peer to peer interfaces just like FireWire so thats a plus. However PCI express appears to have some host specific needs according to PCI Express Peer-to-Peer Interconnect from GE.

Its low latency, high bandwidth, widespread support and costeffective silicon have made PCI Express ubiquitous. It can however, be used for more than merely communicating between a host and a peripheral: it has many advantages as a peerto-peer communications technology. Enabling this, however, demands an understanding of how PCI Express works. This paper outlines the complexities that need to be understood and overcome – and describes a GE software product that delivers a solution that masks those complexities from developers.

As of now the only thing that Apple has defined for connecting two Macs via Thunderbolt is Target Disk mode running over it.

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