I remember a while back reading something about a company making external graphics card bays which you could plug your GPU into, then plug it into the mains and a USB port or something. Has anyone heard of anything like this? Did they ever see the light of day? Are they any good?
actually, I think what your thinking of was the expansion of the PCI-E standards to allow for external devices.
notice I said devices, as any pci-e will work in just about any pci-e slot (as long as it physically fits). IE, your 16x card will work in a 1x slot, if the slot is 'open ended' meaning the end of it is open, allowing larger cards to fit. Now, you wont get the bandwidth you would, but it should indeed work.. slowly.
the common thought of the external devices would be high end graphics products, due to the amount of heat and power required, and an external device could have its own power source (as you mentioned)
I think the OP is referring to the ASUS XG Station (Engadget Article). The unit allows you to install a standard PCI-Ex16 card, plugs into the Expresscard slot of your laptop and to an external monitor.
I think, given the limitations of the expresscard slot (PCI-Ex1, I believe) and cost (with bundled card - estimate $600); it's just not worth it.
I think it's a combination of the two. It was some sort of device for PC's and probably laptops too which would take the Graphics Card out of the machine and run externally in some sort of bay which was powered through the mains and included its own cooling solutions/monitoring etc.
So is there anything around like that? If there is but only PCI-e x1 it doesn't seem worth even looking at. Are they still developing it then?
Dual external PCIe links giving you full 8X+8X, and potentially the option of dual card 8x + 8x Xfire. Now that would be the external solution that would be great for laptops as well as people looking to remove the heat/power of the VPU system out of their rig.