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The State of Thunderbolt 3 on Windows? Audio Interfaces
Old 6 days ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
The State of Thunderbolt 3 on Windows?

Is it worth perusing at this point? It's nearly impossible to find on an off the shelf desktop with TB3 and you still mostly need adapters for TB2, and usb devices are getting better driver wise ( zoom, focusrite, rme for example).

And the mobo's that support TB3 are mostly big gamer boards and are very expensive.

It's probably excellent on a Mac but for a windows user it seems like a hassle ( focusrite dirvers on pc are only a few milliseconds faster than there usb products at this point)


any pros/cons would be welcome.
Old 6 days ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Short answer - a bloody mess.

Suppose you'll want a long answer too?

Ok...

Yeah, it's got/getting better.

The biggest annoyance remains the one you've already outlined. Apple still (mostly) support TB2 and are slowly heading towards TB3 with the more recent models.

But, this has meant that up until even this year, firms have been very keen in wanting to support Thunderbolt 2 devices to get the largest target market share.

PC wise the has never been official support for Thunderbolt 2. Sure, the was some cobbled together solutions... hell, some of them even worked... sometimes.

Microsoft introduced Thunderbolt 3 support officially last year, that was when we started to see Windows drivers appear from most of the interface firms. Honestly, I couldn't blame them for not wishing to second-guess Microsoft, why waste the development time?

So, now we have Thunderbolt drivers, for devices that mostly still don't have Thunderbolt 3 ports. Of course, converters work, but then they cost a daft amount still, as do the cables themselves. If anyone wonders why the cost is so high, it's down to the flow control chip in each adaptor/cable which isn't cheap in the slightest.

When will it get better?

Well, firms are trying, drivers are honestly improving for the interfaces and BIOS support has improved for the mainboards over the generations.

Personally, I don't think this whole ****show will stabilize until the point where Intel build it directly into the chipset. This will stop the manufacturers screwing up the support at BIOS level and all other kinds of crazy implementation issues we've seen so far. Once it's in the chipset it'll be as stable and easy to use as USB is now.

So when's that happening? Well, the rumour mill suggested Coffee Lake last year. Yeah, that didn't turn out so well.

Fingers crossed for the next chipset and all that.
Old 6 days ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I have the Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter for a Clarett 4Pre and it works fine in Windows 10. I have a motherboard with a built in TB3 port with no add on card being required. Of course the drivers are still beta but they work just fine. Everything functions as it should.

It’s not mature yet though from a support perspective as something like USB is. That will probably take some time. Apple seemed to just dive right in to thunderbolt support while Microsoft is just just dipping their toes in to get used to the water.

Just need it to become standard on windows based computers.
Old 5 days ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeymanx View Post
I have the Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter for a Clarett 4Pre and it works fine in Windows 10. I have a motherboard with a built in TB3 port with no add on card being required. Of course the drivers are still beta but they work just fine. Everything functions as it should.

It’s not mature yet though from a support perspective as something like USB is. That will probably take some time. Apple seemed to just dive right in to thunderbolt support while Microsoft is just just dipping their toes in to get used to the water.

Just need it to become standard on windows based computers.
From a Windows standpoint, we have all the same TB3 support you'll find on MacOS. In 2015, we did the audio engineering work to make sure it works as expected, and then followed it up with some tweaks in subsequent versions. Neither MacOS nor Windows come with any sort of peripheral class driver for TB devices (no standard exists); this is still something each manufacturer has to create for their peripherals, regardless of platform.

The PC manufacturers (including MS with our Surface line) are the ones dipping their toes. TB is expensive, and so it ends up only on higher-margin PCs. It's a bit of chicken and egg, but there's not yet a critical mass of TB users clamoring for PCs with TB3 support. On the Mac side, despite having the ports, folks don't appear to be jumping feet-first into TB3 peripherals, so it's not driving peripheral development either.

Pete
Old 5 days ago
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Psychlist1972 View Post
... TB is expensive, and so it ends up only on higher-margin PCs. It's a bit of chicken and egg, but there's not yet a critical mass of TB users clamoring for PCs with TB3 support. On the Mac side, despite having the ports, folks don't appear to be jumping feet-first into TB3 peripherals, so it's not driving peripheral development either.

Pete
That's a great point about push/pull adoption of a new technology.

I had "heard" from a pretty good source that there were working test/prototypes of PCIe Thunderbolt add-in cards, but these things never materialized. Had they come to market, the 'pull' of machines retro-fitted with Tbolt cards would have seeded the market for peripheral developers to get going with products. The early-adopters aren't as sensitive to price points, and the high prices help to fund the expansion of other offerings. That didn't happen.

The 'push' of Tbolt ports being exclusively available in new products isn't quite the same dynamic of market expansion. The Tbolt high bandwidth is a direct benefit for storage devices; an arena populated by videographers, yet the 2013 Mac Pro didn't draw the right crowd of videographers to create the halo of attraction that would draw the MacBook Tbolt crowds.

The PC-based Tbolt ports "coulda-been-a-condender"*, but the missteps of Tbolt-1 and Tbolt-2 deployment had even less attractiveness to the thought leaders.

Now that we're here with Tbolt-3, it's a slow growth dynamic. There is still plenty of chance for wide adoption of Tbolt-3, but in my mind, it's a 4-year thing rather than a 2-year thing.

Well, the crystal ball is getting dark again...

EDIT: * On The Waterfront (movie reference)

Last edited by MediaGary; 5 days ago at 10:07 PM.. Reason: added movie reference pointer
Old 5 days ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Poinzy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Psychlist1972 View Post
From a Windows standpoint, we have all the same TB3 support you'll find on MacOS. In 2015, we did the audio engineering work to make sure it works as expected, and then followed it up with some tweaks in subsequent versions. Neither MacOS nor Windows come with any sort of peripheral class driver for TB devices (no standard exists); this is still something each manufacturer has to create for their peripherals, regardless of platform.

The PC manufacturers (including MS with our Surface line) are the ones dipping their toes. TB is expensive, and so it ends up only on higher-margin PCs. It's a bit of chicken and egg, but there's not yet a critical mass of TB users clamoring for PCs with TB3 support. On the Mac side, despite having the ports, folks don't appear to be jumping feet-first into TB3 peripherals, so it's not driving peripheral development either.

Pete
Thanks for the info.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaGary View Post
I had "heard" from a pretty good source that there were working test/prototypes of PCIe Thunderbolt add-in cards, but these things never materialized. Had they come to market, the 'pull' of machines retro-fitted with Tbolt cards would have seeded the market for peripheral developers to get going with products. The early-adopters aren't as sensitive to price points, and the high prices help to fund the expansion of other offerings. That didn't happen.
Licencing has been fully opened up, so the hope was that we'd start to see more third-party solutions appear. The problem I can see is the level of BIOS support it takes for a board to fully integrate a card at this point and I don't know if they can work around needing to implement it for every system. If they do then I can't see how a third party solution would work in that scenario, unless it used it's own controller firmware frontend like RAID cards do I guess.

The more interesting thing about discussing retrofitting to older boards is that Thunderbolt around the Z87 generation (might have been Z97, I can't fully recall) was far more common than it is today. There was a large wave of support initially once it was opened up to the PC market, only for premium editions that included the TB ports from the factory to sink in the marketplace.

Customers didn't want to pay the 30% premium on the board cost for a tech that had no hardware available and manufacturers didn't want to build hardware when there wasn't full OS support or indeed a sizable supported hardware base to sell too.

So, the next generation we saw pretty much no TB support as a knee-jerk reaction and it seems that board firms are still cautious in supporting it even now.
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