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So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? #3011096 10/05/19 12:53 AM
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Anderton Offline OP
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I know it was an Apple/Intel exclusive for a year, but that was a long time ago. I recently saw an article that said you could build the hardware equivalent of a $6,000 new Mac Pro for around $3,800, but also mentioned the difficulty of getting Thunderbolt in Windows machines.

It is a licensing thing? Do companies just figure they'll blow off Thunderbolt and go with USB-C, similarly to how they favored USB over FireWire? Or is there some technical issue that is difficult to resolve?

Enquiring minds want to know...

Last edited by Anderton; 10/05/19 12:54 AM.
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011122 10/05/19 11:02 AM
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I suspect it's the vulnerability of the interface to DMA and Option ROM attacks.
Apparently it leaves the attached system wide open to low level attacks.
Read the Wikipedia article on Thunderbolt.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderbolt_(interface)
Maybe they haven't solved that issue yet?

Last edited by JohnG11; 10/05/19 11:15 AM.

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Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011123 10/05/19 11:03 AM
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I just finished shopping motherboards for putting together a new music computer over the holidays coming up. I'm hoping to find enough money under the sofa cushions to get a new UA interface, so I wanted my new PC motherboard to be Thunderbolt ready.

It threw me for a while, trying to piece together what I needed to make a UA Duo TB interface work on a Win10 machine. A fair number of PC mobos do now include a TB header, so that's progress. But you still have to get from the header to an Add-in-Card (the acronym AIC gets used sporadically, which led to further temporary confusion) and the AIC has to be compatible with the UA TB device it's going to connect with. And you still have to get a "qualified Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adaptor to connect the PC to the UA interface."

Just a few months ago, UA was only able to provide a very short list of tested-and-approved AICs that were compatible.

UA's webpage on all this is chock full is disclaimers about how they can't guarantee this or that will work in your configuration, or that further configuration may be needed, etc etc etc.

So just trying to figure out what might work was a big time drain, however educational. The safest thing is to peruse the boards - all of them you can find- and glean testimonies from actual users who have used this or that mobo and AIC and cable and tweaks and got it all to work. There's some consensus out there as to combinations that seem to be the most solid. Some people have been able to make all sorts of combinations work, but only a few combinations seem to have high compatibility marks allround.

This is clearly no way to try and flood the market with PCs using UA Thunderbolt devices!! UA is clearly working on this I'll grant them that. But this looks to me like a situation where the PC manufacturers and and the Thunderbolt device manufacturers are looking at each other, waiting a bit to see who has done, or looks likely to do, what. I guess there's no good, working standards board or somesuch 3rd party organization trying to conduct this confused orchestra that has no unified score to play from?

The current USB proliferation/confusion seems similar in some ways. Now I know there is a 3rd party standards body that works on USB protocols - but they seem to have let things get a bit out of hand.

Could it possibly be that the nascent nationalistic tendencies ramping up in the world, the trade wars, etc., are hindering cooperation, slowing progress, generally mucking up the landscape for tech product development and promulgation??

nat





Last edited by Nowarezman; 10/05/19 11:05 AM.
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011126 10/05/19 12:37 PM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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Funny - I asked that question three or maybe four years ago to manufacturers who were introducing Thunderbolt interfaces. The answer was always along the "chicken-and-egg" line. There weren't enough Intel motherboards with a Thunderbird port available yet for them to justify work on a driver, and that they'd support Windows when Windows supported Thunderbolt. And the motherboard manufacturers said their customers where happy with USB and weren't asking for Thunderbolt.

I guess it's still that way. Maybe somebody should remind UA and MOTU and Focusrite (and Intel, Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte too) that you can plug Thunderbolt devices into a USB-C connector and those are starting to show up on Windows motherboards.

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011132 10/05/19 02:13 PM
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In my case, I have found Windows TB performance to be half-baked even on a laptop that has it integrated into the motherboard: Dell XPS 15 9560.

I have used two TB interfaces, Apollo Twin - which performed on par with a cheap USB interface latency-wise, and the Presonus Quantum 2, which was worse. In both cases, I was using a well-optimized machine with updated drivers.

After switching to the Babyface PRO USB 2.0, latency and stability performance is stellar. Sometimes proven technology is just a better choice.

Last edited by Steve in VA; 10/05/19 02:14 PM.
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3011158 10/05/19 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Maybe somebody should remind UA and MOTU and Focusrite (and Intel, Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte too) that you can plug Thunderbolt devices into a USB-C connector and those are starting to show up on Windows motherboards.


Not all USB-C ports are Thunderbolt- compatible. Sometimes the PC or mobo manufacturer will include the reassuring little lightening bolt icon above the port, which I wish they all did, but they don't all do that. In which cases you have to drill into the manual or manufacturer website, perhaps supplemented by support. Again - not a great way to sell billions of these configurations.

So why don't I just kick over to the UA USB interface? Word on the virtual street is that the USB version is probably a dead-end and won't be supported all that long.

nat

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011171 10/05/19 06:18 PM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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It's a fact of live that if there's a computer involved, some day you're going to face the "no longer supported" issue. You can usually live with one thing that's no longer supported, but when you have to update something to accommodate a feature or function that you don't have yet but need, that's where you can run into trouble. When it comes to computer based audio systems, my best advice is to assemble a system that works and don't change it.

Accept that there will be a time when you'll outgrow it, but hopefully you've got your money's worth from the original system and you can afford to assemble a new system to accommodate the upgrade you want. And along with that, accept that there may be some things you're currently using that won't work with the new system, so you'll have to either upgrade those, get something new that gives you what you got from the old thing, forget about that function, or, worst case, keep the old system so you'll be able to use that function when you need it.

My "office" computer is frozen at Windows XP because I use a Lotus 1-2-3 spread sheet that has macros that don't translate to Excel. The computer that works with my Audio Precision System 1 runs Windows 98SE, because the software that it talks to won't run on a newer version of Windows. There's no need to worry about support for anything I'm running on those computers (it's gone away years ago) and hopefully the hardware will last a long time.

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Mike Rivers] #3011189 10/05/19 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
It's a fact of live that if there's a computer involved, some day you're going to face the "no longer supported" issue. You can usually live with one thing that's no longer supported, but when you have to update something to accommodate a feature or function that you don't have yet but need, that's where you can run into trouble. When it comes to computer based audio systems, my best advice is to assemble a system that works and don't change it.

Accept that there will be a time when you'll outgrow it, but hopefully you've got your money's worth from the original system and you can afford to assemble a new system to accommodate the upgrade you want. And along with that, accept that there may be some things you're currently using that won't work with the new system, so you'll have to either upgrade those, get something new that gives you what you got from the old thing, forget about that function, or, worst case, keep the old system so you'll be able to use that function when you need it.

My "office" computer is frozen at Windows XP because I use a Lotus 1-2-3 spread sheet that has macros that don't translate to Excel. The computer that works with my Audio Precision System 1 runs Windows 98SE, because the software that it talks to won't run on a newer version of Windows. There's no need to worry about support for anything I'm running on those computers (it's gone away years ago) and hopefully the hardware will last a long time.



I'm with you on all this - my business computer is Win10 because the pro-level software I have to use for what I do can't run on old platforms. But I still run a DOS (yes DOS!) program for bookkeeping purposes because in all truth, the Windows-based bookkeeping programs were all a step backwards in efficiency and speed for bookkeeping including (and I might add, especially,) the ubiquitous Quickbooks.

I run the old DOS program via VMWare which gives me a little virtual XP machine running within my Win10 machine. Those VMWare folks know what they're doing, no question. I used to dual boot with two hard drives - one booting into Win7 and the other booting into XP so I could run the DOS program under XP. But amazingly enough, the VMWare virtual XP machine "inside" WIn10 runs much faster and with no crashes than my old XP booting from a separate hard drive!

So now I don't have to reboot out of Win10 to run a DOS program! And what really blows my mind is that files that the DOS program produces - like printouts and such - can be dragged & dropped from the DOS virtual machine window right over to my Win10 desktop!. It's like reaching into the 6th dimension to grab a sammitch!

But for music - I use so many VSTs (and keep buying new VSTs) that I have to run the latest Windows OS, or not much more than one or two versions back, or I start running into endless problems.

Ah, I remember Lotus 1-2-3. Wasn't that a Corel product? It was a nice spreadsheet in its day. One of the first "3-D" spreadsheets. I used another spreadsheet way back when that was called Lucid 3D, too. Fast, stable, smart. Now it's Excel the spreadsheet overlord, fat and lazy and unkempt - which runs slow, crashes, corrupts the occasional workfile, and hangs with some frequency. The plateau in Microsoft product development seems to have some potholes they don't bother fixing seeing as they have this monopoly....

nat

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Nowarezman] #3011205 10/06/19 05:04 AM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
Maybe somebody should remind UA and MOTU and Focusrite (and Intel, Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte too) that you can plug Thunderbolt devices into a USB-C connector and those are starting to show up on Windows motherboards.


Not all USB-C ports are Thunderbolt- compatible. Sometimes the PC or mobo manufacturer will include the reassuring little lightening bolt icon above the port, which I wish they all did, but they don't all do that. In which cases you have to drill into the manual or manufacturer website, perhaps supplemented by support.


And this only adds to the confusion - the same physical connector for two entirely different protocols. My understanding is that Thunderbolt can also do USB-C, but USB-C only can't do Thunderbolt. I wrote an article about this for Sweetwater's InSync - What Thunderbolt3 and USB -C Mean to Engineers and Musicians. It got a huge amount of clicks, and no one said I was a moron, so I guess I got it right.

I'm not quite at the Mike Rivers level of sticking with Windows XP - I update Windows 10, lemming-like, when MS says I need to - but I'm not seeing any reason to rush away from USB 2 and 3. When I reviewed Focusrite's Claret Thunderbolt interface, yes... I was impressed. Who wouldn't be by no detectable latency? Then again, I've logged a huge number of hours onstage in my life playing guitar and being 10 feet away from the amp. So 10 ms latency isn't a big deal to me.

I think companies have forgotten completely about the end user, the problems they're trying to solve, and what will work best. Marketing needs to talk to engineering. Seriously. And marketing needs to have smart people involved...

Last edited by Anderton; 10/06/19 05:05 AM.
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011221 10/06/19 10:50 AM
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When I first started using Windows 7, which, except for one computer I set up with Win7 to review MODO Bass, I've been using for less than a year now, I set up the official Microsoft virtual XP to run Lotus and Office 2000 because they wouldn't install under Win 7. That worked out OK, but when I started upgrading other computers, I fiddled around with the installation of those two programs and made them work under Win 7 just fine. I do recognize, though, that you need to run loads of plug-ins, both for your writing gigs and your own music, but around here, analog processing and EQ, dynamics, and effects built into the DAW programs I use are completely adequate.

I was recently able to retire the DOS computer (DOS 3.1!) that was running the Audio Precision software, and good riddance to that one - it worked fine but it was HUGE and took up too much space. The AP box that I have talks to the computer through a special card and cable, and the only version of the card that will support my AP unit needs an ISA motherboard slot and, other than new motherboards that cost a lot of money (for people who have old hardware) that's been obsolete for years. I can remember that my first computers had ISA slots, now the newer ones don't even have PCI slots. A Win98 driver for the computer's parallel port (something else nearing extinction) and a special cable allows me to use a much more compact computer and run the Windows version of the AP program.

Corel may have bought Lotus. I can't remember. But Lotus brought the original "Look and feel" lawsuit against Computer Associates when CA came out with SuperCalc. I think Corel bought Word Perfect. When I started using computers for office work, Word Perfect and SuperCalc were my preferred programs. Oh, and Harvard Project Manager. I'm pretty sure I still have floppy disks for all of those programs, just in case of the apocalypse.

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011286 10/07/19 12:05 AM
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Now that USB-C is out I no longer worry about Thunderbolt on PC, I just want USB-C that works without problems and is consistently applied across all brands and devices.

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011362 10/07/19 04:08 PM
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USB-4 merges Thunderbolt 3 with USB using USB-C cables and connectors so I suspect that's the direction this is all going.

https://www.macrumors.com/2019/09/03/usb4-specification-published-thunderbolt-3-speeds/


The great thing about music is that there's always something to learn. The frustrating thing about music is that there's always something to learn!
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Joe Muscara] #3011452 10/08/19 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Bone Muskeleton
USB-4 merges Thunderbolt 3 with USB using USB-C cables and connectors so I suspect that's the direction this is all going.


Jeez...I remember when hardware protocols had a lifespan that wasn't measured in days.

* Apple is downplaying computers, except for the Mac Pro..."the computer for...well...not you"
* Microsoft is downplaying Windows in favor of WindowsX, folding phones, and who knows what else
* Linux is still amorphous and geek-centric

Remind me again why I sold my analog 8-track...facepalm

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011454 10/08/19 03:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton

Remind me again why I sold my analog 8-track...facepalm


I almost got one of these and talked myself out of it. 2014 MacBook Pro running Thunderbolt 2 right here. Legacy in a heartbeat!
Could just transfer files off the SD card and record anywhere, but NO!!! :- )

https://tapeop.com/reviews/gear/132/model-24-multitrack-recorder-usb-interface-amp-analog-mixer/


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011521 10/08/19 09:24 PM
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Is any of this compatible with my RS-232 port?

hugegrin

Last edited by J. Dead; 10/08/19 09:25 PM.

Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: J. Dead] #3011569 10/09/19 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by J. Dead
Is any of this compatible with my RS-232 port?


You got a computer with an RS-232 serial port? Keep it! This USB stuff isn't gonna last forever. wink

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3011631 10/09/19 06:35 AM
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I believe RS-232 is still used in sound contracting applications, like for power supply protection circuits. Not sure what they use to control it, though. Maybe a PCjr or an S-100 bus machine smile

Re: So What's the Hold Up with Thunderbolt on Windows? [Re: Anderton] #3014226 10/30/19 12:12 PM
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I'm not a thunder user, but I know some about the PC chips and the problems with achieving high bandwidth and low latency. It's a bit like how are you going to use 10Gigabit ethernet if achieving 100MByte/sec over a Gb connection already sends one of your thread processors to over half it's maximum load.

In music applications, you want fast responses but thunderbolt requires certain video abilities, and combined low latency / high bandwidth protocols which even on more pro OSes like Mac's Unix and Linux simply ask a lot from the software kernel, so it pays to wonder why ou believe your audio or midi interface must be TB: even a hundred tracks of 24 bit stereo 96kHz studio quality equals about 2x3x100x96000 = ~55MegaByte/sec, for which a USB2 connection could (just) suffice. It looks like it's interesting for some reason, but is it really technically superior?

TV


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