With the inclusion of a 10GigE port on the back of the iMac Pro and the emergence of inexpensive 10GigE equipped NAS storage units: how do you connect them together for maximum speed and keep access to your other network devices including the internet?
We are all familiar with the convenience of GigE data connections; they have been standard on Macs for many years. But with growing frame and file sizes, the maximum bandwidth of 1000 Mbit/s has become limiting for today's video production needs.
Over the last year we have begun to see more devices being equipped with 10GigE ports, the new iMac Pro being Apple's flagship example. However, connecting a 10GigE machine to a current GigE network won't provide any speed bonus. Also worth noting that the iMac Pro is actually Nbase-T; if it can't get reliable data at 10GigE speed, it will drop transmission speeds to 5, 2.5 and then standard GigE.
In the FCP.co studio we currently have an iMac Pro directly connected to a QNAP TVS 682T. The QNAP has two independent 10GigE ports and the overall disk speed can be shared out between the two connections without needing a switch.
So how did we connect the 10GigE machines together directly to get the maximum speed? This is harder than attaching a NAS unit to a router and letting DHCP do all the numbers. Although the prices of 10GigE switches are coming down, it is still a large expense, especially if you only want to connect one or two Macs to a storage device.
If you plug them up directly, without configuring both the Mac and the storage device first, nothing will happen. Each has to have an IP address manually assigned.
On the QNAP we can do this in the admin section in a web browser. The easiest way to stop the Mac getting confused and trying to access the QNAP over GigE is to assign a different Private Address Space. As the office runs on the 172.xx.xx.x range, we assigned the QNAP to 192.168.0.1
We manually assigned the iMac Pro's 10GigE connection to 192.168.0.2
Having physically taken up the 10GigE socket, the USB-C to ethernet adaptor was necessary to connect via GigE to the other machines on the network and of course the internet.
Then all we needed to do was CMD K or use the menu item Connect to Server, tap in the IP address of the QNAP and hit return. Easy, connected.
So why should we be connecting via 10GigE when the traditional GigE connection was so easy? Take a look at the difference in speeds.
Don't think that 10GigE is just for high end machines either, the (newly arrived in the office) QNAP TS-453BT3 has a single 10GigE connection on the back. (This also doubles up as a free USB-C to 10GigE adaptor!)
So if you are lucky to have machines with 10GigE connections, it is well worth making sure you are connected at the right speed. You should notice a sizeable speed bump. As Final Cut Pro X hits storage hard during certain functions, things like waveform drawing should be a lot quicker.
Peter Wiggins is a broadcast freelance editor based in the UK although his work takes him around the world. An early adopter of FCP setting up pioneering broadcasts workflows, his weapon of choice is now Final Cut Pro X.