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  #11  
Old 07-30-2020, 06:04 PM
Sardi Sardi is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

What SSDs are you currently using? That write speed is quite low. You should be seeing almost parity with read/write speeds even via USB3.

I just recently upgraded to a new Mac Mini so still using Samsung SATA SSDs in USB3 enclosures as prior to the new Mini, I was using a 2012 Mini. On the older Mini, I was getting almost parity on read/write. Eventually I’ll move to NVME drives now that I have 4 x TB3 ports.

But yeah, those speeds seem low.


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  #12  
Old 07-30-2020, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardi View Post
What SSDs are you currently using? That write speed is quite low. You should be seeing almost parity with read/write speeds even via USB3.
As I said, they are 256gb OWC 6G extreme pro SSDs that I had on PCIe card in a mac pro, and I now have in TB enclosures. I haven't tested them with USB3, that's a part of my question to you here.
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  #13  
Old 07-30-2020, 06:41 PM
Sardi Sardi is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Sorry. Missed that part.

So according to the website, you should be getting the following speeds.

TRANSFER SPEEDS1
559MB/S READ
527MB/S WRITE

That’s the type of speeds I get with my Samsung SSDs via USB3. Somewhere along the line, you have a bottleneck. It shouldn’t be the TB3 or USB3 ports although I’d try running them direct to the machine f possible and test the speeds. It’s possible the slow down is happening on the docks. If you’ve got the drive in a TB case, even TB1 will give you the above speeds.

Interesting to see where the issue lies.


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  #14  
Old 07-30-2020, 06:50 PM
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Ben Jenssen Ben Jenssen is offline
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardi View Post
Sorry. Missed that part.

So according to the website, you should be getting the following speeds.

TRANSFER SPEEDS1
559MB/S READ
527MB/S WRITE

That’s the type of speeds I get with my Samsung SSDs via USB3. Somewhere along the line, you have a bottleneck. It shouldn’t be the TB3 or USB3 ports although I’d try running them direct to the machine f possible and test the speeds. It’s possible the slow down is happening on the docks. If you’ve got the drive in a TB case, even TB1 will give you the above speeds.

Interesting to see where the issue lies.


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I don't think there's an issue.
As I said, it's working fine.
(I also said that the speeds are the same thru docks or direct to the imac.)
I'm just interested to know if I can buy a more potent external TB3 ssd drive and it seems that's the case.
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IMac 21.5-Inch "Core i5" 3.0 (4K, Mid-2017)
8GB RAM, 2x OWC fast SSD's on TB3 for system and audio files.
Focusrite 2i2 3rd gen, Dynaudio BM6's and a couple of old mics.
Pro Tools 2020.5, Mac OS 10.15.6.
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  #15  
Old 07-30-2020, 10:30 PM
Sardi Sardi is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Ok NP.


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  #16  
Old 07-31-2020, 03:21 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Ben

I saw your post earlier but have been too busy with work. Just as SATA SSDs have largely made HDD pointless for many uses, higher performance NVMe/PCIe based SSD are replacing SATA SSDs (like you have now)... both internally and over external connections. PCIe/NVMe M.2 based consumer SSD prices are increasingly closer to 2.5" SATA consumer drives. Not all "Thunderbolt SSDs" use PCIe/NVMe drives internally, they may use SATA, and they might use say 2 or 4 lanes of PCIe, and that might be PCIe 2 or PCIe 3. But now hopefully most modern drives are using PCIe 3 x 4 lanes. And not all NVMe external drives have to use Thunderbolt, with the Samsung T7 is an early non-Thunderbolt example I mention below... but those drives will give up performance vs. Thunderbolt.

Yes you can attach "faster" storage. And for some things it will be *much* faster, for some just faster, and there is a possible impact on performance at the high-end caused by additional display monitors on the bus.

Is there something specific you want to improve or address here? Like faster Mac boot time (could use an external PCIe/NVMe boot drive), faster session startup times? faster loading of samples? more concurrent sample steaming? faster cloning or backups etc.?

AFAIK your mid-2017 21" iMac 4K has a Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 implementation that has a single Thunderbolt 3 bus with dual ports on the same bus. And a single Thunderbolt bus is implied by the iMac specs... "5120x2880 (5K) external display at 60 Hz with support for one billion colors; two 3840x2160 (4K UHD) external displays at 60 Hz with support for one billion colors; or two 4096x2304 (4K) external displays at 60 Hz with support for millions of colors".

Your OWC 6G Extreme Pro SSDs are SATA drives. Sequential performance claims from OWC of 559MB/s read, 527MB/s write. That sequential IO is limited by SATA III (6 Gbps) performance. I'm going to concentrate here on maximum sequential IO as it's easiest to understand, and well speced. Random IO I'll mention at the end.

A modern PCIe/NVMe based external SSD drive like a Samsung X5 uses NAND flash storage hanging off 4 x PCIe 3 lanes. In fact the Samsung X5 is simply a Samsung 970 Evo M.2 NVMe/PCIe SSD drive stuck inside a pretty looking compact housing with an Intel Alpine Ridge controller. The X5 can do ~2,800 / 2,300 MB/s sequential read/write, fast but not fully limited by PCIe capacity yet.

I have several X5, my main complaint is there is no built-in way to secure the Thunderbolt 3 cable and I've managed to knock that out more than once, but hey I can report the drives survive being dropped on the floor. And they get hot when really being pushed, I wished they had some passive venting, instead they have a radiative design with a big aluminium internal mass/heat sink. But I'm using them more as portable alternate boot drives with my MacBook Pro and carrying them around with me so I want to keep them compact. *Good* modern Thunderbolt NVMe/PCie based SSDs should be in the same performance ballpark (but always check, and look for reviews on sites like Anandtech).

The data capacity of a Thunderbolt 3 link is just the 4 x PCIe 3 lanes that feed it through the Thunderbolt controllers... so 4 GB/sec (4*8=32 Gbit/sec). It's not the 40 Gbit/sec quoted number for Thunderbolt 3... that includes extra capacity for graphics displays. So a good modern NVMe/PCIe SSD like this that is able to read at ~ 2.8 GB/sec is taking up a significant amount of the Thunderbolt 3 4GB/sec data bandwidth so performance starts dropping off as you use more additional drive on the bus... but for many of our uses the software cannot drive those drives hard enough to get such high end performance. You are not going to see that for example while using Carbon Copy Cloner to clone drives, or from Pro Tools. You sure still notice cloning to a NVMe/PCIE SSD is faster than to a SATA SSD, assuming your Mac has a fast internal PCIe/NVMe SSD itself.. which it could if you ordered it with a Fusion drive and then split the Fusion SSD off. I expect for most uses you can hang a few of these NVMe/PCIe SSD drives on a Thunderbolt 3 bus, and get noticeably better performance (e.g. for file copies, backups) than SATA based drives, and it will scale well for practical use up to several of these drives. If I did not want a portable solution I'd find a PCIe expansion chassis that can take several M.2 drives internally. (Edit: **NOT** this one -- see later note) e.g.https://www.owcdigital.com/products/express-4m2 I'd probably use Samsung 970 M.2 drives in any enclosure.

---

I want to stay out of getting into random I/O performance numbers. Since it gets confusing fast and lots of the stuff quoted by folks can be hard to make sense of because they don't provide details of what they are measured (especially what queue depth the drive is being pushed at). A good PCIe/NVMe drive might be in the same ballpark for random IOPs as a SATA SSD when measured at very shallow queue depths, as good software software loads up the drive more concurrent IO a good PCIe/NVMe random IO IOPs climbs well above what a SATA SSD can do.

---

Adding a 4K UHD monitor to the Thunderbolt chain consumes around 3284x2160x24(bits/pixel)x60(Hz) = ~10 Gbit/s. This gets eaten out of the 40 Gbit/s Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth. But since there is a preallocated ~ 8 Gbit/s allocation in Thunderbolt 3 for graphics you hardly notice that eating into the data bandwidth. Can be more of an impact as you add higher-end monitors and it eats into the 4GB/sec data capacity).

----

Your iMac has USB 3 aka USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps.. an OK match for SATA III limits) ports as well so it can't make use of the extra speed in new Samsung T7 drives that uses an NVMe based controller running over USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps). Although it might be a bit faster than the equivalent SATA Based T5. I expect/hope those T7 will just replace the T5 over time, they are backwards compatible with USB 3.1 Gen 1 but just run at degraded performance.

And technology marches on... USB4 which optionally includes Thunderbolt 3 compatibility should hopefully result in wider use and lower priced peripherals, and better support on Windows. And Thunderbolt 4 does some minor cleanup but does not increase bandwidth/performance of Thunderbolt 3. But all these "slow" external connections just slow stuff down. PCIe 4.0 NVMe enterprise SSDs can deliver ~7GB/sec read performance and ~million random read IOPs (at deep queue depths) all in a single little 2.5" drive. It's likely to be a while until we will see PCIe 4 slots and PCIe 4 based SSDs in Macs, but I'd hope for that in future ARM based Mac Pros. I'd love to be surprised by Apple and see PCIe 4 lanes on upcoming Apple ARM silicon... say for their motherboard based SSDs.

Edit: fixed a few typos. some confusing ones.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 08-02-2020 at 10:00 PM.
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  #17  
Old 08-01-2020, 07:52 AM
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Ben Jenssen Ben Jenssen is offline
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

Thanks a lot, Darryl. I'll be reading thrugh this a couple of times. Some of it goes over my head, but you're being very helpful. I'm shure I'm not the only one to find this useful, either.

The reason I asked about this is simply that Thunderbolt and USB3 are new to me. My previous mac was a2008 cheesgrater with old USB, Firewire, SATA spinners and the OWC SSDs I mentioned on a PCIe adapter card.

I'll be needing to get more storage space soon, and I'll simply be looking for something to plug into a TB or USB port that has a ratio of size and speed that suits me, now that I know that the ports are no issue. As I've said; I find that read/write speeds around 400 mb/s is adequate for me. Mainly Lightroom and light Pro Tools work.
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Life-long audio enthusiast and small studio owner. Retired.
IMac 21.5-Inch "Core i5" 3.0 (4K, Mid-2017)
8GB RAM, 2x OWC fast SSD's on TB3 for system and audio files.
Focusrite 2i2 3rd gen, Dynaudio BM6's and a couple of old mics.
Pro Tools 2020.5, Mac OS 10.15.6.

Last edited by Ben Jenssen; 08-01-2020 at 07:07 PM.
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  #18  
Old 08-02-2020, 09:59 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

I just looked at that OWC M24 Drive enclosure more closely and it seems to be an awful cheap design that only routes one PCIe lane to each M.2 slot. So will only get top performance with all four M.2 drives in the enclosure and soft raid. Pathetic. I'd assumed the device used a PCIe MUX to do this properly. Apparently not.

Here is a enclosure with a PCIe switch and active cooling. https://www.amazon.com/Netstor-Thund.../dp/B00TVIOPXK This is a really interesting product class to watch.

I've got questions into Sonnet support about how their 4x4 card works in an expansion chassis... but by then you are talking a big large box for a few tiny M.2 cards.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 08-02-2020 at 10:57 PM.
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  #19  
Old 08-03-2020, 05:42 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Thunderbolt 3/USB-c vs USB 3 speeds

And more for fellow storage geeks... that find this thread.

I heard back from the helpful folks at Sonnet. It seems their Sonnet M.2 4x4 PCIe cards are PCIe switch equipped so even when you don't have a 16 lanes of PCIe to feed that card, like when you only have 4 lanes inside a Thunderbolt 3 expansion chassis that you can get full bandwidth to any one M.2 card unlike in that OWC Express 4M2 drive enclosure. That's really great design.

Oh so close yet so...

Unfortunately the Sonnet M2 4x4 card is really intended for 16 lane PCIe slots and is physically large and only fits within their largest Thunderbolt 3 expansion chassis. But it seems that users have used the 4x4 SSD card in the same chassis as HDX cards... and I'm willing to bet that's not "officially supported" by Avid or Sonnet but it's interesting to know.

Because of its size the 4x4 card will only work in the following Sonnet chassis.

https://www.sonnetstore.com/collecti...d-thunderbolt3

https://www.sonnetstore.com/collecti...r-thunderbolt3

https://www.sonnetstore.com/collecti...akaway-box-550

Which makes it kinda impractical for most folks with all that size... but I have a need coming up that means I might get to try one out in my breakaway GPU box for non DAW use. (no promises).

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 08-03-2020 at 06:16 PM.
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