Verlinde's reference 
Smolin's reference 
Both citations are to Padmanabhan's most recent (and I think most complete) presentation of his ideas for basing gravity on thermodynamics.
Thermodynamical Aspects of Gravity: New insights
This most recent Padmanabhan has fairly complete references to his earlier work
I see Ted Jacobson and Thanu Padmanabhan as both very much in the middle of this stir about a thermodynamic origin of the geometry of the universe. One or both ought to be responding to recent papers this year in some way or other. It will be interesting to see what they say.
Perhaps you found Padmanabhan's "A Dialogue" intuitive and stimulating, as I did. The more recent "Thermodynamical Aspects" paper is more technical and scholarly but I thought that "Dialogue" was an entertaining useful way of making the ideas accessible.
Do you remember his recalling Boltzmann's insight? Namely: if it has temperature, it must have atoms
I oversimplify. From there, Padma argues that we know space has temperature (deSitter temp, Hawking temp, Unruh temp) and these are temperatures of geometry, and therefore geometry must rest on discrete degrees of freedom. It must have "atoms". Have I misinterpreted what he said? I haven't checked back.