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Thunderbolt 2 Option Card.
A Bandwidth and Connectivity Boost for your Apollo Audio Interface.

The Thunderbolt™ 2 Option Card for Apollo and Apollo 16 audio interfaces provides blazing fast PCIe audio drivers, greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at higher sample rates, and reduced UAD plug-in latency versus Apollo’s standard FireWire connection. Compatible with Intel’s Thunderbolt technology on the latest generation of iMacs®, MacBook® Pros, MacBook Airs®, and Mac minis, the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card offers unrivaled bandwidth and next-generation connectivity for the Apollo interface.*

The user-installable Thunderbolt 2 Option Card includes two Thunderbolt ports, and easily slides into the expansion bay of Apollo. Bus power is provided to downstream Thunderbolt devices, allowing music producers to connect Thunderbolt peripherals in series with the Apollo interface — including hard drives, computer monitors, and 4K displays.

* For compatibility and system requirements, please visit the Thunderbolt support page.

Thunderbolt 2 Option Card.
Basics and FAQ.
What are the advantages of using Thunderbolt as opposed to FireWire?

Thunderbolt supports the PCIe protocol, which means you can run more UAD plug-ins with lower latency inside the DAW compared to FireWire connections. Thunderbolt has 12 times the bandwidth of FireWire 800 and 20 times that of USB-2.

FireWire bandwidth is limited to 55 stereo UAD plug-in instances at 44.1 kHz with a 512 minimum sample buffer size. With Thunderbolt, the UAD plug-in buffer is the same as the DAW I/O buffer, and hundreds of UAD plug-in instances can be run (depending on available DSP power).

What is the difference between Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2?

Thunderbolt 1 and 2 have the same total bandwidth (20 Gbps). Thunderbolt 1 is divided into two 10 Gbps channels, whereas Thunderbolt 2 contains a single 20 Gbps channel.

What are the advantages of Thunderbolt 2 over Thunderbolt 1?

A 4K display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz requires more bandwidth than a single Thunderbolt 1 channel can provide. If you want to use a 4K display at a refresh rate higher than 30 Hz, the Mac and all Thunderbolt devices before the 4K display must be Thunderbolt 2. All currently shipping Thunderbolt 2 Macs have two Thunderbolt 2 ports, so Thunderbolt 1 devices can be connected to a different port than the 4K display.

What computers support Thunderbolt 2?

Currently, only the Mac Pro (Late 2013) and Retina MacBook Pro (Late 2013 and Mid 2014) have Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Is Apollo with the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card compatible with my Thunderbolt 1 Mac?

Yes! With Thunderbolt 1 computers, the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card will perform as a Thunderbolt 1 device.

What happens if I daisy chain Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 devices together?

Adding a Thunderbolt 1 device to a Thunderbolt 2 chain will down-shift subsequent devices to Thunderbolt 1 bandwidth (10 Gbps). This only affects 4K displays and other devices with larger-than-normal data throughput (such as large RAID storage arrays). Apollo and Apollo 16 with the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card can daisy chain with up to six Thunderbolt 1 and/or Thunderbolt 2 devices.

Does the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card supply bus power?

Yes. Both the original Thunderbolt Option Card and the newer Thunderbolt 2 Option Card can supply bus power to downstream devices. Note that Apollo and Apollo 16 cannot be bus powered by Thunderbolt (the included power supply is required for Apollo operation).

Can I use the FireWire ports on Apollo when it is connected to the computer via the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card?

No. Once you load the Thunderbolt firmware into an Apollo family device, the FireWire ports on Apollo are no longer functional. You can connect FireWire devices to Apollo’s second Thunderbolt port via the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter.

Can I use the Apple Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adaptor to connect Apollo to a Mac with a FireWire port?

No. Thunderbolt does not work this way. If you need to connect Apollo to a Mac with a FireWire port, you must use the built in FireWire ports of Apollo (and the Thunderbolt 1 or 2 option card is not used in this scenario).

Note that you can use the Apple Thunderbolt-to-FireWire adapter to convert FireWire devices (like hard drives) to Apollo's Thunderbolt ports, but Apollo's Thunderbolt port must be connected to the Mac's Thunderbolt port in order to function.

How do I add the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card to Apollo?

The update is very easy. Simply remove two screws, remove the blank plate, insert the card, and replace the two screws. A free software update is available and required to complete the install.

Can I still use my Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo on a FireWire-only host computer?

Yes. Apollo comes from the factory with FireWire firmware and can be connected to the computer via FireWire or Thunderbolt.

Features & Specs
Thunderbolt 2 Option Card.
Key Features
  • Enables Thunderbolt connectivity for Apollo and Apollo 16 Audio Interfaces on Thunderbolt-equipped Macs
  • Blazing-fast PCIe audio drivers and rock-solid performance
  • Provides greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at higher sample rates, and reduced plug-in latency versus FireWire
  • Dual Thunderbolt ports supply bus power for convenient daisy-chaining of peripherals such as hard drives and displays, including 4K monitors
  • Easy user installation – tool and instructions included
  • Requires an Apollo or Apollo 16 audio interface available from authorized dealers worldwide
  • Thunderbolt cable sold separately
Operating Requirements
  • Apollo DUO, Apollo QUAD, Apollo FireWire, or Apollo 16
  • Apollo Thunderbolt software
  • Mac OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks, or 10.10 Yosemite