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ThunderBolt 3 INFO Unique ID Mode


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Just wanted to share a working ThunderBolt Build and discuss others ThunderBolt experiences. I'll be discussing only ThunderBolt. This isn't a guide, and if you need help just read, maybe something will help you. This info is all from default configurations and installs. I want to identify the behavior between OS's.


Asus X99E WS




ASUS X99-Deluxe 3.1




Gigabyte Designaire X99 EX







Asus motherboards use a ThunderBolt header directly on the motherboard. This obviously limits the MotherBoards available with ThunderBolt. In the X99 series, only an Add-in PCI-e Card is available.  You Must install Windows7/8/10  and install the driver which updates the firmware. Now you can use the x2 thunderBolt ports in Windows. I have had limited success in OSX with the Asus Add-in Card. As Soon as you insert into your system, it will reboot twice and re-allocate resources. Anytime you make a PCI-e Slot change you must re-allocate resources, which is a deathly combination of BIOS Resets, unplugging the Header Cable, and moving cards around. 2nd GPUs or Areca RAID controllers have caused failure to POST.


The Best scenario with Asus Add-in card is with GPU in SLOT1 and ThunderBolt Expansion Card in Slot2. No Hotswap, works occasionally, mostly needs a BIOS reset whenever you plan to use it. From my perspective, it doesn't work work reliably and I don't have much control over it.


I know, How do you do that? Well, it kinda requires a Single slot GPU water Block, custom Loop, and dremeling off the 2nd DVI Slot on your GPU. I can't recommend this enough, since you get back a PCI-e Slot! I built a couple of Dual Xeon/ Dual GPU Rackmount Systems a few years ago, so cutting off that 2nd Slot got me x2 Slots back for 10Ge and a 12G SAS card!


Anyway, My recommendation is not Asus. They don't have a totally working ThunderBolt solution even for Windows. I noticed on the X99E WS I couldn't POST with certain RAID cards, and Dual GPU was killing me. (This is all with the ThunderBolt card inserted, I swear it's a different computer as soon as you use the add-in card.)


So Far, The Gigabyte X99 EX board has been successful, it has 1 onboard tb3 port. (I use a TB3 to TB2 Apple adapter) There is also a Add-in Card available for this board, it mostly works in Windows. Ubuntu 16.04 will not use the Add-in card whatsoever, but does detect it when running `lspci`. The only setting changed is ThunderBolt Pre-fetch line cache from 32 to 128. Very minimal BIOS settings, Virtualization=ON, UEFI Mode.


While in Unique ID mode. I can hotswap devices on Windows, and Ubuntu16.04. But this only works if you have 'any' Thunderbolt device connected while Booting. Then you can swap the device or Drive, whatever. Which sort of tells me that there's a GPIO that is HIGH when a device is plugged in, and LOW when not plugged in.


Now OSX 10.12, Boots fine. ThunderBolt devices work while in Unique ID Mode, but must be plugged in before Booting. Hotswap does not work. Add-in Card also will not work. I have not tried Legacy, since the Apple Documentation implies that Unique ID Mode is required for proper device enumeration. <<-- Some 3rd party Device drivers use this enumeration, and fail to load. But generally, Gdrives work, BlackMagic Devices work, adapters work. No information in System Profiler, which is expected. I can fake it, but that doesn't complete the real task.


So This Post is generally supposed to spark some interest in ThunderBolt and start a Developer discussion.


I am gathering information, If you have anything to share please do.






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