NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti on Thunderbolt 2 by DIYers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 7, 2014 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, nvidia, GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Externally-attached GPUs have been a topic for many years now. Numerous companies have tried, including AMD and Lucid, but no solution has ever been a widely known and available product. Even as interfaces increase in bandwidth and compatibility with internal buses, it has never been something that a laptop salesperson could suggest to users who want to dock into a high-performance station at home. At best, we are seeing it in weird "coin mining" racks to hang way more GPUs above a system than could physically mount on the motherboard.

Apparently that has not stopped the DIY community, according to chatter on Tech Inferno forums. While the above video does not really show the monitor, MacBook Pro, and GPU enclosure at the same time, let alone all wired together and on, it seems reasonable enough. The video claims to give the MacBook Pro (running Windows 8.1) access to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti with fairly high performance, despite the reduced bandwidth. Quite cool.

Check out the forum post for a few more details.

Source: Tech Inferno
May 7, 2014 | 10:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Externally-attached GPUs, hurt the laptop OEM's business models: New hardware device sales, planned premature hardware obsolescence through lack of OEM customizied driver updates, etc. There are "difficulties" for external device makers in gitting their products certified(Whitelisted) to work on OEMs laptop hardware. Thunderbolt should be able to seamlessly tunnel PCIe over its protocol so that any OS, or software, should not know the difference between a device plugged into its motherboard slot/s from devices plugged into a expansion box over TB, so it is obvious what forces are at play in the "late" adoption of the external thunderbolt graphics cards by the laptop OEMs.

More attention needs to be paid to LANing computers up over gigabit internet with such programs like Blender 3d for example. Blender 3d has a client mode that allows rendering tasks to be spread over multiple PC/Laptops over an ethernet network, so why can't two thunderbolt PC/laptops do the same with the higher speed thunderbolt connnections acting as a much faster network connection for super fast cluster computing/gaming between connected PC/laptops. Why have the gaming companies not introduced more games that are tuned for small ad hoc LAN/clusters of laptops/pc for enhanced gaming/distributed gaming among 2 or more players over home networks. A gaming engine with cluster/LAN automatic abilities to spread the gaming workloads over more than one computing device for better gaming performance, especially for over Thunderbolt.

I wonder if techinferno has articles about DIYs taking the AMD AM1 motherboard and building a render farm using 4 or 5 motherboards with top end Athlon or Beema(if they fit the AM1) APUs, or maybe a gaming Cluster, if possable. The University/College computer science community has its computing cluster competition, and I wish they would start a gaming cluster competition, as many open source DIY software systems are used by the students in these competitions and the software is open to all.

May 8, 2014 | 01:21 PM - Posted by SR (not verified)

I think the main issue is that there is a shortage of thunderbolt capable motherboards. Given the cost of the thunderbolt chips and the fact that board makers would have to dedicate PCI lanes to the system, TB won't show up on budget laptops and other systems like that. The issue is those very systems would stand to gain a considerable benefit from offloading tasks to a co-processor over PCIe.

It appears strange that the systems that have the most thunderbolt compatibility (Macs) are the ones that are least upgradeable. If there was a large market for a PCIe enclosure, it would be the content creators on Macs. Instead, some of them seem to just keep their old Mac Pros or change to Linux or Windows.

May 8, 2014 | 09:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No shortage, just high Intel prices for the active cable chips, and the thunderbolt controller chips, which Intel corners the market on. That and The OEMs desire to not make it easy to have laptop graphics enhanced or upgradeable without the user having to buy a new laptop. Apple does not have to certify any external GPUs, (Note the user had to boot windows to get the GPU to work)! OSX probably has a whitelist, and any "non-certified" GPUs that work fine through PCIe tunneled over the thunderbolt protocol, can not get past the OSX whitelist restriction if the GPUs is not on whitelist. Expect that Apple will keep OSX locked down with respect to external thunderbolt GPUs, unless Apple is selling the external box and GPU, at Apple markup pricing. PCI-SIG has a PCIe external cable specification, OCuLink, Up for adoption 2-H 2014, that competes with TB, but it is not on the market AFAIK.

May 8, 2014 | 07:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

eGPUs don't hurt laptop makers.

I remember years ago they actually tried selling such modules themselves but they didn't really take off for whatever reason.

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