When Lucid took the wraps off its Thunderbolt External Graphics at the IDF, I could not help but to remember a rather visionary product we discussed here at Tom's Hardware more than six years ago and at least brought it to a virtual design phase.
Back then, we speculated that external graphics based on the ATI R600 graphics core would be testing acceptable power limits and potentially make external graphics boxes a necessity due to their excessive power and cooling requirements. Similar to how we used to bring external floppy and CD-ROM drives along with our notebooks, there was the idea that graphics boxes could be an option for notebook owners. As we know, this vision never became a reality, but the idea is not dead yet.
Lucid now sees an advantage for this technology because of the Thunderbolt interface and often underpowered Ultrabooks that may have enthusiasts wanting more in the graphics department. Their external box integrates an AMD Radeon 6700 chip, which has the potential to improve the graphics performance of a base Ultrabook by a substantial margin.
So, is this technology coming to market? It is a concept right now and far from being a market-ready product. As passionate as we were about external graphics in 2006, it is still much more likely that external graphics would be, if commercially sold, a niche product and not a mainstream solution.
For more details and another video, check out LaptopMag.