it's not because a couple of audio cards and one DSP card work in a Thunderbolt environment that the pro audio market is covered.
There's more than one DSP card in the list but you could say the same about devices that are Windows-exclusive. If the Mac Pro only has a 5770 and a 5870, does that mean it's not suitable for high-end graphics work?
There are Thunderbolt solutions targeting everything you use PCI for. While not all the cards have Thunderbolt counterparts, there are solutions for everything with the exception of GPUs on the Mac side but the iMac GPU is fast anyway so that's still a solution.
You try to make the case that Apple couldn't discontinue the Pro because there wouldn't be workable solutions for every scenario but there clearly are solutions that will be available in the timeframe that such a discontinuation would affect.
In any case, my impression was that demand + volume was in the smartphone and tablet sector.
I think you're keeping the professional market unreasonably restricted to what you want the term 'professional' to represent. But hey, don't let these consumers at NAB tell you different:
Notice the optical Thunderbolt cable in there too, connected to a Macbook Pro.
Not necessarily hacking the driver binaries but a way to get them to load. The drivers work without modification on Windows, why should it be any different on the Mac side? It must be to do with how the drivers are being loaded.
You say you are behind Thunderbolt but then add 'if only it was better'. If you are truly behind something then you don't try to knock it down at every turn. Your stance is clear, you want the tower and PCI slots and anything else is not for 'professionals'. I think those things will go away soon and professionals will be defined by their work not the size of their box.
No this isn't about EFI or driver issues, apparently if you try to use any GPU, 100% supported by Apple, in a Thunderbolt to PCIe enclosure it will not work.
The Mac GPU drivers won't work because they don't know how to work over Thunderbolt. Apple develops those but AMD/NVidia could write their own if they wanted.
I guess that answers my question, no you wouldn't use a RAID controller in one of those Thunderbolt cases...
But I'm not referring to shared storage, but fast RAID storage for one workstation with a dedicated controller, again there doesn't seem to be a solution available?
The Pegasus RAID is a solution - you manage the hardware controller from the utility:
When you say fast storage, you can put 2x Samsung 830s in a Mini and it will be faster than most hardware RAID drives:
Sure if you need 12TB of fast storage, you go for the Pegasus but it won't be much faster as platter drives are inherently slow and you're not going to put 8 platter drives in RAID0.
I've seen projects (movies) that had over 700 tracks of audio alone not including the music tracks. Those were spread over 4 systems using satellites options (2x HD 6 rigs, and 2x native rigs for a total of 16 pci cards). There's isn't a damn way that your supposed thunderbolt can do it all will be able to accommodate the needs. It's fine for small home studios for musicians and all, but you're forgetting the actual professional studios and post production houses.
If you're hooking up multiple machines, you can hook up multiple Thunderbolt options too like iMacs, Minis or Macbook Pros:
iMacs have two Thunderbolt ports so two HDX each with say 100 tracks per box so 4 iMacs hooked up over ethernet. More maybe or less if you aren't bandwidth-limited and put 3 cards per Magma box? I don't see how it's an impossible usage scenario.
My preferred solution for the Pro is not discontinuation but a smaller box with 6x Thunderbolt ports (obviously one used for the display, possibly chained) and you would be able to connect loads of dedicated hardware to a single machine, in a standard Pro, you get 3 slots free. Although they are higher bandwidth, if you need the cards for processing, you get more with the TB ports.