Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2017 - 11:40 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: xeon, x299, video, thunderbolt 3, sapphire, RX470, rift, radeon, podcast, nand, Intel, HDK2, gigabyte, external gpu, asus, 10GbE
PC Perspective Podcast #458 - 07/13/17
Join us for Intel Xeon launch, external ThunderBolt3 GPUs, 10Gb Ethernet, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
A long time coming
External video cards for laptops have long been a dream of many PC enthusiasts, and for good reason. It’s compelling to have a thin-and-light notebook with great battery life for things like meetings or class, with the ability to plug it into a dock at home and enjoy your favorite PC games.
Many times we have been promised that external GPUs for notebooks would be a viable option. Over the years there have been many commercial solutions involving both industry standard protocols like ExpressCard, as well as proprietary connections to allow you to externally connect PCIe devices. Inspiring hackers have also had their hand with this for many years, cobbling together interesting solutions using mPCIe and M.2 ports on their notebooks which were meant for other devices.
With the introduction of Intel’s Thunderbolt standard in 2011, there was a hope that we would finally achieve external graphics nirvana. A modern, Intel-backed protocol promising PCIe x4 speeds (PCIe 2.0 at that point) sounded like it would be ideal for connecting GPUs to notebooks, and in some ways it was. Once again the external graphics communities managed to get it to work through the use of enclosures meant to connect other non-GPU PCIe devices such as RAID and video capture cards to systems. However, software support was still a limiting factor. You were required to use an external monitor to display your video, and it still felt like you were just riding the line between usability and a total hack. It felt like we were never going to get true universal support for external GPUs on notebooks.
Then, seemingly of out of nowhere, Intel decided to promote native support for external GPUs as a priority when they introduced Thunderbolt 3. Fast forward, and we've already seen a much larger adoption of Thunderbolt 3 on PC notebooks than we ever did with the previous Thunderbolt implementations. Taking all of this into account, we figured it was time to finally dip our toes into the eGPU market.
For our testing, we decided on the AKiTio Node for several reasons. First, at around $300, it's by far the lowest cost enclosure built to support GPUs. Additionally, it seems to be one of the most compatible devices currently on the market according to the very helpful comparison chart over at eGPU.io. The eGPU site is a wonderful resource for everything external GPU, over any interface possible, and I would highly recommend heading over there to do some reading if you are interested in trying out an eGPU for yourself.
The Node unit itself is a very utilitarian design. Essentially you get a folded sheet metal box with a Thunderbolt controller and 400W SFX power supply inside.
In order to install a GPU into the Node, you must first unscrew the enclosure from the back and slide the outer shell off of the device.
Once inside, we can see that there is ample room for any graphics card you might want to install in this enclosure. In fact, it seems a little too large for any of the GPUs we installed, including GTX 1080 Ti models. Here, you can see a more reasonable RX 570 installed.
Beyond opening up the enclosure to install a GPU, there is very little configuration required. My unit required a firmware update, but that was easily applied with the tools from the AKiTio site.
From here, I simply connected the Node to a ThinkPad X1, installed the NVIDIA drivers for our GTX 1080 Ti, and everything seemed to work — including using the 1080 Ti with the integrated notebook display and no external monitor!
Now that we've got the Node working, let's take a look at some performance numbers.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2017 - 07:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: external gpu, zotac, thunderbolt 3, computex 2017
They haven't given us much detail but as you would expect the ZOTAC external GPU box connects an GPU to your system via a Thunderbolt 3 connector, allowing you to add more GPU power to a mobile system or any other computer which needs a little boost to its graphics. You can fit cards of up to 9" in length, which makes it a perfect match for the two Mini-GPUs just below or other lower powered cards which are not as well endowed as your average GTX 1080 or 1080 Ti. It also adds four USB 3.0 ports and a Quick Charge 3.0 port to your system so you can leave it at home and simply attach your laptop via the Thunderbolt cable and get right to gaming.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 8, 2017 - 12:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dell, hp, Lenovo, docking station, usb 3.1, thunderbolt 3, Type-C
Wave goodbye to your old docks as they sail away thanks to a thunderstorm. The Register reached out to Dell, HP, Lenovo and ASUS about the rumours that the docking station will be a thing of the past and all but the latter responded. It seems the vendors feel that as USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 have united under the Type-C plug it is time to cover up that slot in the bottom of your PC and use a wire to connect you to docks. Lenovo will also persist with their WiGig docks, for those who don't want to have to remember to 'undock' a cable. Their post also has some tidbits on some of the features to expect on laptops from these three companies, so check it out for more info.
"When you shop for PCs this year your theme tune may well be “Ding, dong, the dock is dead” because now that USB 3.1, USB-C connectors and Thunderbolt all play nicely together there's much less need for dedicated hardware to connect a laptop to peripherals."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Firefox 52 Is The Last Version of Firefox For Windows XP and Vista @ Slashdot
- Troubled Avaya takes Extreme option, flogs network biz for $100m @ The Register
- Redmond's on fire, your 365 is terrified: Microsoft email outage en masse @ The Register
- The NVIDIA Jetson TX2 (Pascal) Tech Report @ TechARP
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 5, 2017 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: video card, thunderbolt 3, msi, gus, graphics, external gpu, enclosure, CES 2017, CES
You would need to go all the way back to CES 2012 to see our coverage of the GUS II external graphics enclosure, and now MSI has a new G.U.S. (Graphics Upgrade System) GPU enclosure to show, this time using Thunderbolt 3.
In addition to 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, the G.U.S. includes a built-in 500W power supply with 80 Plus Gold certification, as well as USB 3.0 Type-C and Type-A ports including a quick-charge port on the front of the unit.
Ryan had a look at the G.U.S. (running an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, no less) at MSI's booth:
Specifications from MSI:
- 1x Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) port to connect to host PCs
- 2x USB 3.0 Type-A (rear)
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-C (rear)
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-A w/QC (front)
- 80 Plus Gold 500W internal PSU
We do not have specifics on pricing or availablity for the G.U.S. just yet.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | January 3, 2017 - 03:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x1 carbon, wigig, thunderbolt 3, Thinkpad, notebook, LTE-A, Lenovo, laptop, ips, CES 2017, CES, 14 inch
Lenovo's 2017 version of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is “the lightest 14-inch business notebook” on the market at 2.5 lbs, and fits its 14-inch IPS display into a compact 13-inch laptop form-factor.
"Featuring a carbon-fiber reinforced chassis, the X1 Carbon is as durable as its predecessor, and features a smaller footprint—making it the lightest, thinnest X1 Carbon. Yet it’s power-packed with: Windows 10 Pro, 7th generation Intel Core processors, lightning-fast Thunderbolt 3, and a 14” Quad-HD display. All that—plus our legendary ThinkPad heritage and support."
Lenovo still left room in the slim chassis for plenty of battery capacity, as they claim “more than 15 hours of battery life” from this new X1 Carbon, which is available in both the traditional “ThinkPad Black” and a new metallic silver color. Another new addition to the X1 Carbon is Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, with wireless options including LTE-A and WiGig.
Specifications from Lenovo:
- 14” WQHD IPS (2560 x 1440) 300 nits
- 14” FHD IPS (1920 x 1080) 300 nits
- Processor: Up to Intel Core 7th gen
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620
- Memory: Up to 16GB 1866MHz LPDDR3
- 128GB SSD SATA
- 180GB SSD Intel® SATA
- 256GB SSD Intel® PCIe TLC OPAL2 256GB SSD PCIe TLC OPAL2
- 512GB SSD Intel® PCIe TLC OPAL2
- 512GB SSD PCIe TLC OPAL2
- 1TB SSD PCIe TLC OPAL2
- I/O Ports
- 2 x Intel® ThunderboltTM 3, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI,
- native RJ45, microSD, microSIM
- Intel® Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8265
- 2 x 2 AC + Bluetooth® 4.2
- Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM X7 LTE-A EM7430
- Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM X7 LTE-A EM7455
- Intel® Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18265 (WiGig +
- WiFi 2 x 2 AC + Bluetooth® 4.2
- NFC option
- LTE-A (4G)
- I/O Ports
- dTPM 2.0 Display
- Touch fingerprint reader option
- Windows Hello
- Audio: Dolby Audio Premium
- Webcam: HD 720p, IR camera option
- Battery: Up to 15.5 hours
- Operating System: Windows 10 Pro (64 bit)
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 323.5 x 217.1 x 15.95 mm / 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
- Weight: Starting at 2.49 lbs / 1.12 kg
- Colors: Black, Silver
As to pricing and availability, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon will start at $1,349, and will available in February.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | December 28, 2016 - 12:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: usb type-c, thunderbolt 3, ThinkPad Type-C Dock, ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock, Thinkpad, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, dock, CES 2017, CES
Lenovo has teased a pair of new docks for their upcoming ThinkPad refresh at CES, with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C options. We don’t have a lot of details but the photos from Lenovo show the available ports on these two docks.
ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 (left) and USB Type-C (right) docks (Image: Lenovo)
The ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock supports up to 3 displays, with a pair of DisplayPort outputs along with a full size HDMI. The front panel offers a Thunderbolt 3 port, USB, and 3.5 mm audio, and the rear offers four more USB 3.0 ports (one charging), LAN, and a VGA output.
Back view of Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Image: Lenovo)
The Type-C dock supports up to 2 displays via DisplayPort, and has three USB 3.0 ports between the front and back panel (plus a front panel Type-C port), along with legacy USB 2.0 ports for peripherals. The smaller dock retains VGA and LAN ports as well.
Back view of USB Type-C Dock (Image: Lenovo)
Expect full specifications after the official launch of these products, presumably at CES 2017.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2016 - 01:27 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: XConnect, thunderbolt 3, radeon, graphics card, gpu, gaming laptop, external gpu, amd
AMD has announced their new external GPU technology called XConnect, which leverages support from the latest Radeon driver to support AMD graphics over Thunderbolt 3.
The technology showcased by AMD is powered by Razer, who partnered with AMD to come up with an expandable solution that supports up to 375W GPUs, including R9 Fury, R9 Nano, and all R9 300 series GPUs up to the R9 390X (there is no liquid cooling support, and the R9 Fury X isn't listed as being compatible). The notebook in AMD's marketing material is the Razer Blade Stealth, which offers the Razer Core external GPU enclosure as an optional accessory. (More information about these products from Razer here.) XConnect is not tied to any vendor, however; this is "generic driver" support for GPUs over Thunderbolt 3.
AMD has posted this video with the head of Global Technical Marketing, Robert Hallock, to explain the new tech and show off the Razer hardware:
The exciting part has to be the promise of an industry standard for external graphics, something many have hoped for. Not everyone will produce a product exactly like Razer has, since there is no requirement to provide a future upgrade path in a larger enclosure like this, but the important thing is that Thunderbolt 3 support is built in to the newest Radeon Crimson drivers.
Here are the system requirements for AMD XConnect from AMD:
- Radeon Software 16.2.2 driver (or later)
- 1x Thunderbolt 3 port
- 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable
- Windows 10 build 10586 (or later)
- BIOS support for external graphics over Thunderbolt 3 (check with system vendor for details)
- Certified Thunderbolt 3 graphics enclosure configured with supported Radeon R9 Series GPU
- Thunderbolt firmware (NVM) v.16
The announcement introduces all sorts of possibilities. How awesome would it be to see a tiny solution with an R9 Nano powered by, say, an SFX power supply? Or what about a dual-GPU enclosure (possibly requiring 2 Thunderbolt 3 connections?), or an enclosure supporting liquid cooling (and the R9 Fury X)? The potential is certainly there, and with a standard in place we could see some really interesting products in the near future (or even DIY solutions). It's a promising time for mobile gaming!
Subject: Motherboards | October 29, 2015 - 11:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170X-Gaming GT, Z170X-Gaming 7, Z170X-Gaming G1, thunderbolt 3, motherboard, gigabyte, firmware
GIGABYTE has announced support for Intel Thunderbolt 3 for three existing Z170 motherboards after receiving certification from Intel.
The motherboards include the GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7. How do you get Thunderbolt 3 if you own one of these boards? Simply update to the latest firmware.
“Users that wish to upgrade their motherboard can download an updated version of the firmware from GIGABYTE’s website. Once the user installs the updated firmware, Thunderbolt™ 3 support will be enabled on the motherboard.”
GIGABYTE has provided quick links to access the firmware update page for each motherboard:
Thunderbolt 3 on the motherboards is powered by Intel’s controller, and is available via USB Type-C connector on the motherboards to provide bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s, double that of Thunderbolt 2.
Subject: Systems | September 14, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xps 12, thunderbolt 3, Surface Pro, dell
So Microsoft got a form factor right when they designed the Surface and Surface Pro tablets. The concept is basically a tablet with a kickstand that can be attached magnetically to a keyboard at the bottom. We are seeing a few OEMs do their own versions, although some question whether it is imitation or a license from Microsoft.
Image Credit: Giga
One such device is the Dell XPS 12, and it has some fairly interesting components according to a leak from Giga. This tablet has a 4K screen with 400 nits of brightness, which is useful for outdoor viewing. It is supposedly compatible with the Dell Active Stylus. This pen apparently has good reviews, but it takes AAAA batteries (not a typo). They might be difficult to find when you need them once every two to three months. The keyboard is backlit, but I'm not sure if it can be used as a cover.
The most interesting addition is Thunderbolt 3, though. The standard uses the USB Type-C connector and supports 40 Gbps along with several other features. We don't know what processor it will use, but Skylake seems likely even though it's not required for Thunderbolt 3. It would seem silly to have new technology paired with older processors though, unless they had a surplus of something.
The Dell XPS 12 is rumored to launch in October, but nothing official and no pricing yet.