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Is it or will it be possible to connect a graphicscard w/ thunderbolt?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 21, 2011 10:22:54 PM

I am just wondering if it is be possible to connect an external graphics card via the thunderbolt port? I know the only computers with it right now are apples macbooks but when more computers start shipping with the thunderbolt port will you be abble to connect a graphics card to your laptop to enhnace its gaming capabilities? And if It will be able to, will companies make graphic cards just for hooking hooking to a thunderbolt port on your computer?
a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 10:56:08 PM

It's very possible that in the future such a product could be released. The only caveat is that while Thunderbolt supplies quite a lot of bandwidth it still isn't quite enough to prevent bottlenecking even lower end cards, to some degree at least. The way I see it such add on graphics modules will probably be produced for use with a laptop, but the GPUs used in them will likely be low to mid-range ones. Overall it is a very interesting idea.
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a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 11:18:09 PM

I thought thunderbolt was supposed to be 10Gb/s?
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a b U Graphics card
March 21, 2011 11:37:34 PM

Yes, that's what I remember, on higher end GPUs, and possibly even lower end GPUs that could be a minor to moderate bottleneck. Even with a minor bandwidth bottleneck I think that such a external graphics card would be a really useful product for anyone with a laptop who wants more graphics capability.
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a c 182 U Graphics card
March 22, 2011 12:13:28 AM

pcie 2.0 x16 is 64Gb/s

Theres seems to be a couple posting around already about DIY thunderbolt external GPUs. Current commercial external gpus use expresscard which is 2.5Gb/s. Even with the bottleneck there is still a performance increase over igpus allowing you to play current games on high.
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March 22, 2011 1:06:55 AM

So for the first comment what do you mean by
"The only caveat is that while Thunderbolt supplies quite a lot of bandwidth it still isn't quite enough to prevent bottlenecking even lower end cards, to some degree at least"

Does that mean that higher end graphics cards will not bottleneck? And are the lower end cards more likely to bottleneck more as you said.

K1114 if current gpu's use an expresscard which is 2.5gb/s then why would a the thunderbolt at 10 gb/s bottleneck?

Thanks a bunch for posting btw! You guys are awesome!
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a b U Graphics card
March 22, 2011 2:25:45 AM

Higher end cards will bottleneck more than lower-end cards because they generally need more bandwidth to fully saturate the shaders with data.

IIRC graphics cards do not use Express Card, most, if not all, current graphics cards use PCI Express 1.0 or 2.0. As K1114 said a 16 lane PCI Express 2.0 connection gives around 64Gb/s of bandwidth, and a 8 lane PCI Express 2.0 lane (which is often consider the narrowest PCI Express 2.0 connection that won't begin to bottleneck high-end cards), gives half of that (~32Gb/s).
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a c 182 U Graphics card
March 22, 2011 3:58:28 AM

Let me clarify, a high end gpu will be 64gb/s, plugging it in a thunderbolt makes it only be able to run at 10gb/s, thus a bottleneck. Even a lower card, lets just say 32Gb/s in a 10Gb/s, still a bottleneck.

Now current solutions, people are using what is available to them. Here are some links
http://www.villageinstruments.com/tiki-index.php?page=V...
http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphic...

As I said before, its still an improvement over the ipgu and worth doing if you really want to. Just know that you are only using a fraction of the cards actual power.
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March 24, 2011 12:30:07 PM

Okay thanks guys, that helps alot!
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March 25, 2011 2:09:56 AM

Best answer selected by jeremiah reese.
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a c 271 U Graphics card
April 1, 2011 3:53:30 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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