Friday, August 5th 2011

Village Instruments to Develop External GPU Enclosure Making use of Thunderbolt

Village Instruments ran a snap poll on Facebook to see if the Mac user community is interested in a graphics card enclosure that makes use of the Thunderbolt IO interconnect. The response was positive, and so the company decided to work on such a device. The enclosure holds a PCI-Express x16 slot along with a variety of miscellaneous I/O connectors. It connects to the latest generation of Macs and Macbooks over the 10 Gb/s Thunderbolt interconnect. It will power the graphics card using an external power brick. Village Instruments isn't new to such devices, the company currently sells ViDock, a device that does the same over ExpressCard interface. ExpressCard's bandwidth is much lower than that of Thunderbolt, but it still gets the job done in running a graphics card, even if not at its top performance. The ExpressCard ViDock is pictured below.

Source: AnandTech
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21 Comments on Village Instruments to Develop External GPU Enclosure Making use of Thunderbolt

#1
cheesy999
by: btarunr
Village Instruments ran a snap poll on Facebook to see if the Mac user community is interested in a graphics card enclosure that makes use of the Thunderbolt IO interconnect. The response was positive, and so the company decided to work on such a device. The enclosure holds a PCI-Express x16 slot along with a variety of miscellaneous I/O connectors. It connects to the latest generation of Macs and Macbooks over the 10 Gb/s Thunderbolt interconnect. It will power the graphics card using an external power brick. Village Instruments isn't new to such devices, the company currently sells ViDock, a device that does the same over ExpressCard interface. ExpressCard's bandwidth is much lower than that of Thunderbolt, but it still gets the job done in running a graphics card, even if not at its top performance. The ExpressCard ViDock is pictured below.

http://www.techpowerup.com/img/11-08-05/36a_thm.jpg

Source: AnandTech
if i remember correctly, don't most graphics cards not work on mac?
Posted on Reply
#2
Hawkilo
mac users could always choose to use Bootcamp
Posted on Reply
#3
cheesy999
by: Hawkilo
mac users could always choose to use Bootcamp
If you wanted to use windows you wouldn't of paid the £200-300 extra to apple's name on your hardware
Posted on Reply
#4
phanbuey
by: cheesy999
if i remember correctly, don't most graphics cards not work on mac?
Yeah... but maybe this is only for the ones that do? Or they work through bootcamp/parrallels?

Im definitely interested... that easy I could keep the same laptop and swap out the gfx card....

this would be awesome for lans too.

by: cheesy999
If you wanted to use windows you wouldn't of paid the £200-300 extra to apple's name on your hardware
Of course you would have :D... 1. Wind0ws hardware sucks compared to apple hardware build/finish/design... 2. you get the best of both worlds, since with parallels you don't lose windows.
Posted on Reply
#5
Hawkilo
by: cheesy999
If you wanted to use windows you wouldn't of paid the £200-300 extra to apple's name on your hardware
However, some people buy macs because of its brand name.
IMO, if you are willing to invest on an external graphics device like this, then you are willing to play games. And most games comes on Windows
Posted on Reply
#6
cheesy999
by: phanbuey

Of course you would have :D... 1. Wind0ws hardware sucks compared to apple hardware build/finish/design... 2. you get the best of both worlds, since with parallels you don't lose windows.
i hope you didn't just notice it, but all your paying for is the case and the logo, the proccesor, ram etc are exactly the same stuff in a windows PC, and the motherboards used in most macs are cheapo foxconn one's

and have you seen some of the windows PC's coming out lately, even HP's are getting really good, i couldn't believe i was gaming in silence on a core i HP last week

+your macs going to be useless in a few years because most of the new one's have inaccessible battery's, so if you use it as a laptop, and use the battery, it's going to be dead in 3-5 years
Posted on Reply
#7
wolf
Performance Enthusiast
make this exact device with a connection for pc's and ill buy one, something along the lines of a long pci-e cable...

make it have space for two gfx cards with a bridge chip and ill not only buy it but marry it.

and external house for my GPU/s is a dream of mine.
Posted on Reply
#8
treehouse
by: wolf
make this exact device with a connection for pc's and ill buy one, something along the lines of a long pci-e cable...

make it have space for two gfx cards with a bridge chip and ill not only buy it but marry it.

and external house for my GPU/s is a dream of mine.
exactly my thoughts and desires
Posted on Reply
#9
Jizzler
^ You can get external PCIe expansion systems with 1 to 19 slots right now.

A bit pricey though. Could buy two HD6990 or GTX590 for about the same price as the external enclosure for two video cards with an x16 link to the host :)

Maybe someone will come out with a more consumer oriented model... with a spot for a triple fan rad.
Posted on Reply
#10
_JP_
This already exists for common laptops and it's not worth it for 85%~95% of laptop users. Mostly because those users also have desktops and those that don't, but still want to play games, end up buying an Alienware or a Eurocom/Clevo (which, IMO, makes more sense in an investment point of view). Besides, carrying the extra card ruins some of the portability.
by: phanbuey
1. Wind0ws hardware sucks compared to apple hardware (...)
LOL! :roll:
Posted on Reply
#11
nemesis.ie
I don't see why this would not work on a PC too. Thunderbolt (aka Light Peak) is not an Apple tech, they are just really pushing it adding it as standard rather than (or so it seems) USB 3.0 just to be "different" as usual.

It is an Intel tech and should also be available for PCs.

It looks like Intel are pushing it as motherboard only, i.e. not endorsing add-in boards, but that could of course change. Boards should appear soon I would think.
Posted on Reply
#12
NC37
For the cost of this and the extra expense of buying a Mac lappy with a pos Intel IGP...just buy a Qosmio or something then buy a used Mac if you must run OSX. Mac gaming is dead because Steve doesn't want to optimize OpenGL for performance. That and they haven't used a decent high end mobile GPU since the final days of the G4 Powerbooks. Or even upper midrange GPU. All have been low end and if midrange, they are usually downclocked parts.

The only difference between Windows PCs and Macs when it come to hardware is the outside. You can get the same parts if not better on PCs, not counting the crap bargain bin black friday PCs. Course one difference on the Mac towers is you get server chips vs regular on PCs. Most users do not need Xeons and the cost for the performance, you would be better building your own i7 rig.

The concept that Apple means quality is not as black and white as it used to be. Sure construction is better than those crap budget PCs but when you get to the higher price brackets you will find well built machines even in the PC side. I've worked with Macs all my life and aside from the neat designs like The Cube, these things aren't much different than regular PCs. In fact, some models are much harder to work on than PCs and Apple uses a lot of proprietary parts to make sure end users cannot just upgrade or fix them easily. So say PSU dies...you have to find a used one if out of warranty or buy one for a premium. Last Mac I worked with which could use standard ATX was the Beige G3 line which was the most PC of all the Macs and one of the best.
Posted on Reply
#13
phanbuey
by: _JP_
This already exists for common laptops and it's not worth it for 85%~95% of laptop users. Mostly because those users also have desktops and those that don't, but still want to play games, end up buying an Alienware or a Eurocom/Clevo (which, IMO, makes more sense in an investment point of view). Besides, carrying the extra card ruins some of the portability.

LOL! :roll:
Apple's stuff is exactly the same stuff on the inside, but a way way better build quality - which is what I pay for in a laptop. Because in 2-3 years the cheap plastic hinges on your HP will start to crack, and keys will start popping off, and you will start wearing away the crappy coating on the touchpad buttons.

Most people that rag on Macs have never used one. Hell, when im in the datacenter, macs outnumber PC's among the IT guys.

by: NC37
For the cost of this and the extra expense of buying a Mac lappy with a pos Intel IGP...just buy a Qosmio or something then buy a used Mac if you must run OSX. Mac gaming is dead because Steve doesn't want to optimize OpenGL for performance. That and they haven't used a decent high end mobile GPU since the final days of the G4 Powerbooks. Or even upper midrange GPU. All have been low end and if midrange, they are usually downclocked parts.

The only difference between Windows PCs and Macs when it come to hardware is the outside. You can get the same parts if not better on PCs, not counting the crap bargain bin black friday PCs. Course one difference on the Mac towers is you get server chips vs regular on PCs. Most users do not need Xeons and the cost for the performance, you would be better building your own i7 rig.

The concept that Apple means quality is not as black and white as it used to be. Sure construction is better than those crap budget PCs but when you get to the higher price brackets you will find well built machines even in the PC side. I've worked with Macs all my life and aside from the neat designs like The Cube, these things aren't much different than regular PCs. In fact, some models are much harder to work on than PCs and Apple uses a lot of proprietary parts to make sure end users cannot just upgrade or fix them easily. So say PSU dies...you have to find a used one if out of warranty or buy one for a premium. Last Mac I worked with which could use standard ATX was the Beige G3 line which was the most PC of all the Macs and one of the best.
This is why this device will rock. OSX is good for certain things - gaming is not, and will never be one of them. Macs are essentially the same as windows machines in parrallels/bootcamp. load this up, install the lightpeak drivers - no more need for a separate gaming rig.

$1100 for a 1" thin computer with a good design (solid build, mag safe rip power cord) and the specs of the lowest end macbook pro is not much to ask at all... you wont find a better built computer for that price, I have 4 laptops around my house to prove it.

I would totally buy this product... Why have a whole other PC just for gaming, when all you really need is the video card? All the modern sandy bridge chips, even the mobile ones, have more than enough power to feed a mid range card.
Posted on Reply
#14
timta2
I don't know why I came in here thinking there would be some intelligent discussion. I should have guessed that there would be little more than whole lot of Mac hate.

by: cheesy999

+your macs going to be useless in a few years because most of the new one's have inaccessible battery's, so if you use it as a laptop, and use the battery, it's going to be dead in 3-5 years
That's bullshit, it might not be user serviceable, but I've yet to see a battery in any device that isn't replaceable. That would go against scientific and engineering principles.

by: NC37
Mac gaming is dead because Steve doesn't want to optimize OpenGL for performance. That and they haven't used a decent high end mobile GPU since the final days of the G4 Powerbooks. Or even upper midrange GPU. All have been low end and if midrange, they are usually downclocked parts.
You forgot the part about Microsoft buying the most successful Mac game developers (Bungie for example). If there aren't any good Mac games, who is going to spend $300 on a video card? In my opinion PC gaming is heading in the same direction since Microsoft and the lowest common denominator is destroying PC gaming as well. Before long people will be joking about "who plays games on PCs? haha".

by: NC37
The only difference between Windows PCs and Macs when it come to hardware is the outside
by: NC37
In fact, some models are much harder to work on than PCs and Apple uses a lot of proprietary parts to make sure end users cannot just upgrade or fix them easily.
So which is it? There is no difference or there is? It can't be both.

by: phanbuey
Because in 2-3 years the cheap plastic hinges on your HP will start to crack,
Apple isn't immune to this, in the past they had huge problems with hinges. Google the words "mac" and "hinge" to see what I mean.
Posted on Reply
#15
KainXS
If you want a PC with better build quality and performance than apples at the price, ASUS, Toshiba and Sony(a little more expensive but still cheaper than apple), especially Clevo's notebooks, My brother has had one for years with no problems and its upgradable, its not hey macs have the best build quality for the price, thats complete bullshit.

The only true advantage macs have over PC's is that user's have less control over what they put on their mac meaning you have less failures, people break computers downloading stupid things and trying to do stupid things, more than virus's or anything else, its users, which is why sometimes when I worked IT years ago I would tell people to buy a mac if they did things like that and they love them but if your a gamer is a no no.

Theres no "true" gaming on macs because games always need better hardware and apple dosen't want its users going into macs and upgrading them and then having to deal with giving support for incompatibility and all the problems that come from that.

pc's are more open(and fail more because of that)
macs are more closed off(and users are limited)

I cannot see apple even remotely allowing something like this, based on their past I can only see them shutting this product out, even with parrallels and bootcamp, can't see it getting far.

look at ViDock for PC, it failed, and is used as a homebrew alternative but still is not worth it in most cases.
Posted on Reply
#16
v12dock
by: phanbuey
Apple's stuff is exactly the same stuff on the inside, but a way way better build quality - which is what I pay for in a laptop. Because in 2-3 years the cheap plastic hinges on your HP will start to crack, and keys will start popping off, and you will start wearing away the crappy coating on the touchpad buttons.

Most people that rag on Macs have never used one. Hell, when im in the datacenter, macs outnumber PC's among the IT guys.



This is why this device will rock. OSX is good for certain things - gaming is not, and will never be one of them. Macs are essentially the same as windows machines in parrallels/bootcamp. load this up, install the lightpeak drivers - no more need for a separate gaming rig.

$1100 for a 1" thin computer with a good design (solid build, mag safe rip power cord) and the specs of the lowest end macbook pro is not much to ask at all... you wont find a better built computer for that price, I have 4 laptops around my house to prove it.

I would totally buy this product... Why have a whole other PC just for gaming, when all you really need is the video card? All the modern sandy bridge chips, even the mobile ones, have more than enough power to feed a mid range card.
<<< IT at three locations... Not a mac in sight.
Posted on Reply
#17
Wile E
Power User
by: cheesy999
i hope you didn't just notice it, but all your paying for is the case and the logo, the proccesor, ram etc are exactly the same stuff in a windows PC, and the motherboards used in most macs are cheapo foxconn one's

and have you seen some of the windows PC's coming out lately, even HP's are getting really good, i couldn't believe i was gaming in silence on a core i HP last week

+your macs going to be useless in a few years because most of the new one's have inaccessible battery's, so if you use it as a laptop, and use the battery, it's going to be dead in 3-5 years
iMacs also have IPS screens.

There has always been a large selection of good windows PCs.

That's what tools are for. (Tho I do feel their laptops are overpriced, so would never buy one anyway.)

by: NC37
For the cost of this and the extra expense of buying a Mac lappy with a pos Intel IGP...just buy a Qosmio or something then buy a used Mac if you must run OSX. Mac gaming is dead because Steve doesn't want to optimize OpenGL for performance. That and they haven't used a decent high end mobile GPU since the final days of the G4 Powerbooks. Or even upper midrange GPU. All have been low end and if midrange, they are usually downclocked parts.

The only difference between Windows PCs and Macs when it come to hardware is the outside. You can get the same parts if not better on PCs, not counting the crap bargain bin black friday PCs. Course one difference on the Mac towers is you get server chips vs regular on PCs. Most users do not need Xeons and the cost for the performance, you would be better building your own i7 rig.

The concept that Apple means quality is not as black and white as it used to be. Sure construction is better than those crap budget PCs but when you get to the higher price brackets you will find well built machines even in the PC side. I've worked with Macs all my life and aside from the neat designs like The Cube, these things aren't much different than regular PCs. In fact, some models are much harder to work on than PCs and Apple uses a lot of proprietary parts to make sure end users cannot just upgrade or fix them easily. So say PSU dies...you have to find a used one if out of warranty or buy one for a premium. Last Mac I worked with which could use standard ATX was the Beige G3 line which was the most PC of all the Macs and one of the best.
Actually it isn't. It's more popular now than it has ever been. Do you think Valve would have ported their stuff over to Mac if it was a dead market? Mac gaming has been MORE popular since the switch to x86.

I just wish this would let you game on the internal display. If it did, I would buy a new iMac and this, pop a decent card in it, and have a nice 24/7 machine, and only fire up the uber rig for hardcore gaming and encoding.
Posted on Reply
#18
wolf
Performance Enthusiast
by: Jizzler
^ You can get external PCIe expansion systems with 1 to 19 slots right now.

A bit pricey though. Could buy two HD6990 or GTX590 for about the same price as the external enclosure for two video cards with an x16 link to the host :)

Maybe someone will come out with a more consumer oriented model... with a spot for a triple fan rad.
who makes them and where can I buy one?
Posted on Reply
#20
Jizzler
by: wolf
who makes them and where can I buy one?
magma.com
cyclone.com
onestopsystems.com

Couple I remember off the top of my head. For all-out performance, Cyclone has this sweet model, if you're looking for nothing less than a PCIe 2.0 x16 host connection:



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