10G networking for your Laptop - Promise SANLink3 T1 NBaseT Adapter blesses your Thunderbolt 3/USB-C desktop or laptop with 1.0/2.5/5.0/10GbE speeds
The Promise SANLink3 T1 NBaseT Adapter is available on:
- Amazon - Promise SL3T1GL Thunderbolt 3 to Base-T Ethernet Bus Powered Adapter
- Dell - Dell part #A9623557
- eBay - All items with
SL3T1GLin the description
- Newegg - Promise Thunderbolt 3 to Base-T Ethernet Bus Powered Adapter (SL3T1GL)
It's been about a decade since 1GbE (1 Gigabit) networking became prevalent, for desktops and laptops alike, even in home networks. In recent years, thinner lighter laptops did away with DVD first, then RJ45 connections for wired Ethernet next. If you are lucky enough to have a premium workstation or laptop equipped with Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C, then you have some incredible options available to you now, see also:
- Road-warrior productivity boosters for laptops blessed with USB-C but no Ethernet or VGA
May 15 2017 by Paul Braren at TinkerTry
Turns out you can now also have full 10GbE on any Thunderbolt 3 equipped system. Promise has been at this connection to SAN game for a long time, featuring a variety of slightly older Thunderbolt 2 SANLink 2 Series and SANLink3 F2 series that allow for 10GbE or FC (up to 16Gb!) attachment of your system.
This article's only focus is on a new SANLink3 Product that fits my need to interconnect my M.2 NVMe equipped laptop to my Xeon-D 10GbE equipped servers, with all three systems featuring M.2 NVMe storage.
This is the product I've been patiently waiting for, having already been running 10GbE in my home network when my (world's-first 12 core) second Xeon-D SuperServer Bundle 2 arrived in October of 2016. The speed boost of vMotion between my 2 cluster nodes that have no shared storage was huge, each system only has local VMFS datastores. What if I could just as quickly and easily move huge 4K video files that I sometimes record to and from my laptop? See also some Xeon D multi-threaded processor performance measurements I recorded here. And what about huge VMs?
Here's the thing. I (experimentally) run one Xeon D SuperServer about 20 feet from my triple monitors, with a Windows 10 VM used as my primary workstation/datacenter upstairs. My second Xeon D SuperServer is in my basement. Working as a customer facing SE at VMware, I'm fortunate to also have a Dell Precision 5510 laptop upstairs as well. Wouldn't it be great if all 3 were interconnected, at full 10GbE speeds? This is when I'm glad I'm now equipped with RJ45 10GbE rather than SFP+, as it allows me to easily string CAT6a or CAT7 cabling through a PVC pipe I rammed from my home's basement to my attic, well over a decade ago.
Desktops / Servers
- Give your Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C equipped PC 10GbE network capabilities that performs about as well as taking up a PCIe slot would, including small systems like the Intel NUC NUC6I7KYK that has no PCIe slots available, see also William Lam's excellent ESXi on the new Intel NUC Skull Canyon article. Note, it seems Xeon server-class systems don't currently feature Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connections, including the newly announced Purley, with the possible exception of the pricey, upcoming iMac Pro. Typically datacenter gear would use internal storage and PCIe slots anyway, so adding consumer friendly (but easily unplugged) USB-C likely isn't a priority. Read more at TinkerTry, Intel Xeon Scalable Processors (Purley) Unveiled - Intel and VMware touting roughly 2.5x the performance and 4x as many VMs versus the Xeon of 4 years ago.
- Give your Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C equipped PC 10GbE network capabilities that performs about as well as taking up a PCIe slot would.
- It is possible to both charge the laptop, and have have triple displays and 10GbE on premium, workstation-caliber laptops, all through just one Thunderbolt 3/USB-C cable. I've personally tested this using a Dell Precision 5510 laptop and a Dell TB16 240 watt dock. This dock can work with other laptops, but it's clear from Dell's documentation that there is a real focus on ensuring the combination of BIOS updates and features mean the ownership experience may be smoother for Dell laptop users, see also Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16 Driver Installation Guide. This reminds me of early USB 3.0 days, with some roughness around the edges that have been smoothed out with later Dell Precision 5510 BIOS updates, with Dell XPS13/XPS15 likely enjoying much of the same attention.
- IMPORTANT NOTE - The TB16 has three video display outputs AND two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C connections: one goes to my laptop, the other to this Promise 10GbE adapter, this is crucial, since most Thunderbolt 3 docks only offer a 2nd USB-C port for charging only
- SANLink3 T1 product page
NBase-T speeds Full Duplex 1, 2.5, 5 or 10Gb/s
Single Thunderbolt™ 3 port and single NBaseT port
No Bulky external power supplies or cords
Compact, cool and extremely portable
0.5m 40Gb/s passive Thunderbolt™ 3 cable included
- Linux and Windows driver download page
- Amazon reviews
I recorded 4K video of the unboxing, install, and basic driver install and testing, seen below. The BOM (Build Of Materials) for all the equipment used in the video is featured here, including the popular Monoprice SlimRun Cat6a 10GbE cables. Important to note that they're only available in up to 14 feet lengths, so I may be testing out this 100' Cat7 flat cable by Jadaol instead, for my upstairs to basement runs. Any such lengths might need to be Plenum cable, check with your local building codes.
Here's the basics of what's featured in the video:
- connection to ASUS XG-U2008 Unmanaged 2-Port 10G and 8-Port Gigabit Switch
- connection to VMware ESXi 6.5U1 running a Windows 10 VM on a 10GbE vSwitch
5GB Windows 10 ISO file copy over a Windows network share, from the Windows 10 laptop (driver v4.4.405.152) to the Windows 10 VM (VIB 4.5.1)
The dawn of 2.5/5.0/10GbE
Also known as 2.5 Gbps / 5.0 Gbps / 10 Gbps, various motherboards and PCIe cards and consumer-priced unmanaged switches are expected to become much more prevalent soon, and it's about time. We've been waiting for lower-priced options, catch a glimpse for yourself here:
- ASUS XG-C100C NIC - 10 Gigabit Ethernet for the Masses
Jul 12 2017 by Ken Addison at PC Perspective
Given Aquantia is one of the only OEMs doing these new 2.5 and 5.0 speeds, I wouldn't be surprised if the Promise has an Aquantia AQC107 chipset inside. This also means that for now, the driver focus seems to be on Windows 10 and Mac, not datacenter OSs like Windows Server, Linux, or VMware vSphere.
I don't plan or need to have 2.5 or 5.0 speeds in my home's network, so the lack of compatibility that my current set of servers and switches isn't an issue for me personally. That's right, my Xeon D servers, and the 2 10GbE switches I currently own, won't negotiate future 2.5 or 5.0 speeds, simply falling back to 1GbE speeds.
I do hope we can all benefit from lower prices for all greater-than-1GbE technologies soon, something Mike Foley actually mentioned in passing when we were presenting at user group recently. It could also make home vSAN much more viable/obtainable, something I'm very interested in personally.
The future of datacenters is 25/40/50/100 GbE
What a mess, too many speeds, explained here, and well beyond the scope of this article.
I plan to continue to use my modest ASUS XG-U2008 when I travel with my SuperServer, doing a variety of live demonstrations at various most-local user group events. It's not a good choice for vSAN, and my Netgear XS708T might not be the best choice either, but the Netgear XS708T is what I'm now using to wire up my home with 10GbE goodness, full time. It doesn't have enough 1GbE ports for my needs, so I've also re-purposed my basic Cisco SG112-24, and attached it to my Netgear XS708T with a single CAT6a cable. It'd be better if it was SFP+ equipped for that uplink, but sure beats it gathering dust ever since the much cooler looking (and working) ASUS XG-U2008 replaced it for my public demos.
You won't wonder why you'd want 10GbE in your home if you watch the video below, and if you ever produce content (or VMs) that consist of very large files. The amazing speeds of M.2 NVMe SSDs, and the even better speeds that NAND's eventual replacement by 3D XPoint (Intel Optane / Micron QuantX) will offer, signal the acute need for better networking, even in a home "lab" that power users like me really use for production.
Promise Technology published their SANLink3 T1 Compatibility List here.
See also related posts in the forum.
Disclaimer - This article features Amazon Associates and SkimLinks URLs, which means "TinkerTry.com, LLC" may receive a small commission if viewers use these links when making their purchases. That said, this post is not a paid promotion. The device(s) featured in this video were purchased, with the intention of keeping them.
In the original article above, I failed to mention a bit of bad rep that copper 10GbE has seen for high power use. For each of my 2 Xeon D systems, I get about 0.6 watts of additional watt burn for each Intel X552/X557 10GbE RJ45 port that I plug in, using short (1 meter) cable lengths. I'll need to re-measure with longer (30 meter) lengths.
I also failed to mention cable types for copper (versus SFP/SFP+). One of the big goals of the new 2.5 and 5.0GbE speeds is a way to get standard CAT5 / CAT5e cabled homes a bit of a speed boost. With 10GbE, you'll likely require a re-wire:
- CAT5e (wiki page) for short runs (<25 feet / 7.6 meters) may work for 10GbE speeds, but technically, CAT5e isn't certified for 10GbE at any length
- CAT6 (wiki page) for 10GbE at up to 180 feet / 55 meters length
- CAT6A (wiki page) for 10GbE at up to 328 feet / 100 meters length
- CAT7 (wiki page) for 10GbE at up to 328 feet / 100 meters length
- CAT8 (article) 10Gbps+
CAT8 is expected to support bandwidths of up to 2 GHz (2000 MHz) for up to 30 meters of cabling and can support 25Gbps / 40Gbps speeds. CAT8 cables will look similar to lower category cables and will most probably still be terminated in RJ45 connections.
10 Gigabit Ethernet wiki featuring 10GBASE-T:
Class E channel using category 6, Class Ea channel using 6a or 7 twisted pair
10Gbps Ethernet is no longer restricted to fiber optic media only. Recent advancements in chip design have made 10GBASE-T (10Gbps over copper) more economical and easier to deploy than ever before. Direct Attach Copper (DAC) is also a popular choice, especially for shorter distance, latency sensitive applications.
It's alive! I have a fully operational 10GbE network now, with both 10GbE interfaces of my upstairs and downstairs Xeon D systems home-run CAT7 cabled to my Netgear XS708T switch. Of course, my Dell Precision 5510 laptop is also now home-run CAT7 cabled as well. The 3 cables barely fit, and the flat design made all the difference, as there's little chance I could have pulled the cables through the PVC had they been a conventional round design. I tested speeds with these cables before installing them, of course.
This bit of home rewiring is something I've wanted for a long time, but choosing to enter the attic on a 90°F / 32°C day might not have been the best idea. I put my iPhone 7 Plus in a plastic snack bag to protect it from sweat when mowing or attic climbing, but that plastic also meant the phone got extra hot during an extended FaceTime session, as pictured below. That's right, being able to see and communicate to the person at the remote end of the PVC pipe that the cables are getting pulled through really helps, since flat cables do tend to need a second set of hands to detangle the cables while feeding them upward. I used my MSA Safety Works 817663 Multi-Purpose Respirator to protect my lungs while carefully maneuvering around the attic. I wished to avoid the "inconvenience" of me accidentally putting my foot through the ceiling again, and my wife would agree.
- Laptop died? Pull that Windows 10 Pro SATA SSD, attach to another UEFI system using a USB 3.0/3.1 adapter, boots like Windows To Go!
Feb 14 2017
- The Xeon D Supermicro SuperServer "Bundle 2" of joy, a complete home datacenter virtualization solution that really flies
Dec 07 2016
- ASUS XG-U2008 fanless unmanaged network switch - $249 gets 8 1GbE ports and 2 10GbE ports for my Xeon D two-node cluster
Oct 12 2016
- Netgear XS708T managed 8 port 10GbE switch unboxed, noise and power draw measured - suited for Xeon D cluster
Jul 31 2016
USB Type C (Thunderbolt™ 3) Information for Intel NUC
Jul 11 2017 by Intel
ESXi on the new Intel NUC Skull Canyon
May 21 2016 by William Lam at virtuallyGhetto
Intel XXV710 25GbE Network Adapters Launched
Feb 21 2017 by Cliff Robinson at STH
- 25, 50 And 100 Gigabit Ethernet In The Data Center
Its time to make sense of the plethora of performance Gs in the world of enterprise and cloud data centers.
Nov 19 2015 by Nicholas Ilyadis at NETWORKComputing