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No, it's an external insert, sounds about like what you've got in Sonar. It's cool that it handles all the latency, etc., (I'd bet Sonar does, too), but it does take up a pair of ins & outs to do it. I'm pretty sure that you can use the H8000FW as an audio interface by itself, too, (or at least that's my understanding from reading the manual and the forums), just not at the same time as your main interface, which leads me to my next point…
What really bothers me is that you can't combine interfaces in Windows like you can on a Mac, unless the interface manufacturer has built in hardware expansion (like some cards by Lynx, Apogee, etc.). This is one way that the Mac really is superior to the PC, aggregate devices. But, I'm a die-hard PC guy. All my stuff is Windows based and the expense of switching everything over just isn't worth it, to me. I really do wish someone would address this, though, and I'm pretty sure it'd have to be either the DAW companies or more likely Microsoft, as I don't think it's something that a driver by itself has any control over.
So, unfortunately, while I'd hoped to offer an alternative solution, it doesn't look like I have any ideas you haven't tried. Sorry… I do agree that having a native hardware-plug-in interface for the H8000FW would be nice, or for the Eclipse, or 2016, or even the stompboxes. Even if it was an additional-cost option.
In my case, I'd be using the H8000 during mixdown, so giving up a few channels from my interface isn't that big of a deal to me, even though I have to repatch everything. Of course, that's just me in my situation.