Published in Graphics

External graphics over Thunderbolt in the works

by on18 January 2012

Nvidia, AMD even Apple playing with it

Thunderbolt is so far the fastest standard available on the market today, and we did write that Apple is the only one to use it across its range of notebooks.

It is dual channel standard with 10Gbps per port and it is a bidirectional dual protocol that supports PCI express and Display Port. It looks like it has been tailor made for external graphics and since we have a keen interest in anything related to graphics, we have been asking around at CES and found that both key GPU manufacturers are playing with it.

Apple is apparently trying but it is more likely that Nvidia and AMD will make it and offer both PC and Mac extermal graphics. The biggest issue that they currently have is that both Windows 7 and upcoming 8 don’t know when you unplug your external graphics card, and if you run something of that card, Windows tends to crash. It all reminds us of Windows 98 and the first USB demo that you can see

This is currently the biggest obstacle to external graphics, as Thunderbolt cannot tell the OS that it wants to be unplugged. AMD has made some demos with it, and in order to unplug Thunderbolt external graphics cards, you have to stop all applications that utilize the GPU, including your browser. That is not fun, is it?

Work is in progress and external GPUs are coming, but the big question remains unanswered, when? It doesn’t look it will happen that soon, but we would like to be surprised.

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