AKiTiO has quietly begun to sell its Thunderbolt 3 to 10 GbE network adapter, which it first demonstrated at Computex 2017. The device is based on a 10 GbE solution from Tehuti Networks and is compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs. Priced at just under $300, AKiTiO is selling the adapter directly as well as through Amazon.

As described back in June, the AKiTiO Thunder3 10G (T3NA-T3LNITY-AKT) network adapter supports five speeds, including 10GBase-T as well as NBase-T, allowing it to work not only with corporate 10 GbE networks, but also with upcoming 2.5GBase-T and 5GBase-T networks primarily aimed at small businesses and consumers, as well as existing 1 GbE and 100 M networks. The device itself is a relatively small rugged box made of aluminum for better heat dissipation and featuring rubber pads on its sides for further protection.

The adapter is bus-powered, it only has one 10 GBase-T port, a Thunderbolt 3 header, as well as an opening for a security lock. Unlike many other TB3 devices, this one does not have another TB3 connector to daisy chain it with other TB3 appliances, perhaps to reduce development and BOM costs (more on this later), or address security concerns of certain clients. Theoretically, it should be possible to plug the Thunder 10G network adapter at the end of a Thunderbolt 3 daisy chain after a display and a DAS, but AKiTiO does explicitly list this as supported.

The AKiTiO Thunder3 10G (T3NA-T3LNITY-AKT) is based on Tehuti Networks’ TN9710x-TB3 reference design for Thunderbolt 3 to 10GBase-T/NBase-T network adapters. This reference design is intended to minimize the number of chips and components required: it carries Tehuti’s own TN4010 MAC, Marvell’s Alaska X 88X3310P 10 GbE transceiver, Intel’s DSL6340 Thunderbolt 3 controller (which is why daisy chaining is not supported), Texas Instruments’ TPS65983 USB Type-C and Power Delivery (PD) controller, as well as an essential set of power and other ICs (integrated circuits). AKiTiO already uses Tehuti’s designs for its Thunder2 10G network adapter as well as its 5-Speed 10G/NBASE-T PCIe network card, so the decision to go with this partner was logical. Apart from developing chips and reference designs, Tehuti provides unified drivers for them and having one driver for all three products greatly simplifies their support. Speaking of drivers, the Thunder3 10G is compatible with macOS 10.12.5 and above, Windows 7 and Windows 10.

AKiTiO’s Thunder3 10G is now available directly from the company as well as from Amazon for $279.99, which is below MSRP of most Intel-based 10GbE add-on cards. Considering the fact that the latter are generally aimed at servers and high-end workstations (and therefore come with appropriate features and software stack), this is not really surprising. In the meantime, it is noteworthy that the Thunder3 10G costs $120 less than the Thunder2 10G ($399.99), a clear indicator that 10 GbE hardware in general is getting more affordable.

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Source: AKiTiO

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  • xchaotic - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    and then there's Intel royalties for anything TB related right? A theoretical USB3.1 to 10G Ethernet would have cost less. Might be interesting if 10 x 1GBit USB adapaters + a switch still cost less than this ;)
  • rahvin - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    I'm pretty sure Intel gave up all royalties on TB when they open sourced the standard. It's my understanding that the USB forum is even going to integrate some of the TB standard into the next USB standard.

    Intel tried to handicap USB3.1 with TB and failed miserably and in the end open sourced the spec royalty free so it didn't just die. Even without royalties it's still a mostly dead standard precisely because USB is better.
  • CheapSushi - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    Same. I hope a similar one comes out using Aqauntia's controller. Their single port 10G cards are MUCH cheaper. Hell, they had a deal for their own for $69 now that long ago. So bill of material costs can be reduced on this kind of device with the same, if not better performance, at least on the network controller part. Most 10G singe port NICs are $200+, some $300+. I bet with Aquantia with a partnership could make a similar device for $100ish. I think it's a pretty good add-on or tool for folks without the port already onboard and are mobile.
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    The prices will come down as the technology becomes more commonplace, but it may not reach the same level of ubiquity as something like a 10/100 NIC because wireless technologies are now so prevalent. Wired Ethernet has many uses still, but it's a rare animal in residential computing and lots of businesses now put WiFi to use on company networks.
  • Xajel - Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - link

    All 10Gbe are expensive, the most expensive part is the PHY, TB is expensive and also the most expensive part is the PHY...

    The PHY is the chip that is responsible of converting the data signalling from the regular data to the corresponded signalling in the bus cable ( being a cat 6 cable for Ethernet or a Type-C cable for TB3 )...

    10GbE now has a price around $100 for just a basic single card... I don't know how much a basic single input TB3 cost but you can imagine...

    So technically, a similar product with USB 3.1 can cut the cost for 10GbE adapters as USB 3.1 controller is much cheaper than TB3... ofcourse; you'll need USB 3.1g2 (10gbps) which is more expensive than regular USB 3.1g1 (5gbps).. again the most expensive part of USB 3.1g2 is the PHY it self...

    mass producing the PHY and open standards (so multi manufacturers can make the Controllers and PHY) drives cost down, that's why TB3 is still expensive as Intel is still the only maker for these parts...
  • timecop1818 - Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - link

    I mean, literally that box is TB3 > PCIe x4 (or x2) bridge, which then goes to the TN4010 PCIe x4 10GbE controller (backside of pcb), which goes to the 10GbE PHY from Marvell. The cost is in the fancy enclosure, the fact that this is an extremely niche device, that they can charge the amount they're charging, and that people who want it (for ~reasons~) are willing to pay this price. Cost of components themselves are insignificant, I would guess the BOM in production qtys is below 100USD, more like closer to 50-60.
  • Vidmo - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    "compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs"

    Sire, as long as you're not trying to use the Thunderbolt device on Windows server, Intel does not allow that.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    I wonder how long it will be until 10G Ethernet is on every motherboard, 2 years?
  • fred666 - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    I'd say longer than that.
    Just like blu-ray didn't replace DVD in PCs/laptops.
    The problem is that gig-E is fast enough for most people, and wired Ethernet is being replaced by WiFi.
  • Samus - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    That's a sexy little thang but daaaamn expensive.

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