?Thunderbolt pci-e card for cMP?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Philocetes, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. Philocetes macrumors regular


    Sep 23, 2016
    I have done some searching here for thunderbolt discussion, but did not find an answer. Basically wondering if there is a thunderbolt pci-e card that will work in 2010-2012 mac pro?

    The mac forums say no, but we do have some things here that mac says are not possible. My understanding thus far is that thunderbolt is a cpu-motherboard technology, but still hoping there is a pci-e card that can fill this role.

    Any information is much appreciated. Thanks.
  2. scott.n macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2010
  3. rawweb macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2015
    Why do you need thunderbolt for a cMP? It has PCIe slots. I bet whatever you think you need thunderbolt for can be accomplished with the PCIe slots.
  4. rodedwards macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2010
    I think Thunderbolt is controlled via motherboard so cannot be added to classic Mac Pro. I tried, but ended up using a pcie USB 3 card, which is great. Got it off Amazon ... Think it was Imation or similar. Go for 5 slots not two like i did. :)

    Occasionally, some peripherals don't work when using pcie usb 3 - like my Drobo 3rd Gen. So just initially use USB 2 from non pcie slot and then everything seems to work once it's activated.

    I think the latest USB 3 is as fast or maybe faster than Thunderbolt anyways and far more universal. I'm surprised Apple don't fade out the expensive Thunderbolt as 'it ain't all that.' ;)
  5. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    No. Thunderbolt cards generally require three connections. PCI-e , DisplayPort, and an appropriate GPIO. The vast majority of motherboards (both Apple's cMP era and most older as well as current, mainstream ) do not have the GPIO connection. There has been some slack granted by Intel on whether a DisplayPort is necessary ( on some iGPU-less Xeon E5 set-ups have been given a psss in some relatively recent ). But the motherboard has to be designed explicitly for Thunderbolt and pass TB certification.

    Basically all motherboards that predate Thunderbolt ( ~2011) cannot. Period. The cMP design dates from 2008-2009. Even after 2011 it is still a very narrow subset. Thunderbolt support has to be built into the motherboard itself. Period.

    Thunderbolt is not simply "external PCI-e". So a PCI-e slot, soely by itself, is insufficient to provide a solution.
  6. Philocetes, Oct 4, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016

    Philocetes thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 23, 2016
    I do audio recording and newer interfaces are coming out that use thunderbolt. I can't think of anything else of interest to me. I will note that I just installed a pci-e card that has 4 usb 3.0 interfaces, so anything I buy will be usb based.

    Thanks, folks, for the explanations. It is has I thought, but just wanted to make sure I had all the information I could.

    PS. I couldnt' find this subject when I did a search of posts, but now that I have a thread, I see a number of similar threads in the similar thread list...

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5 October 4, 2016