Lucid to Let You Plug in to Boost Your Laptop GPU?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 12, 2012 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: lucid, external graphics

Lucid looks to utilize Thunderbolt and its PCIe-format interface with external video cards. Their ideal future would allow for customers to purchase Ultrabook or other laptop device to bring around town. Upon reaching home the user could sit the laptop on their desk; plug in a high-end video card for performance; and surround their Ultrabook in other monitors.

While there are situations for acceleration hardware to be inside the device that is not necessary.

There have been numerous attempts in the past to provide a dockable graphics accelerator. ASUS, AMD, Vidock, as well as many others have attempted this feat but all had drawbacks and/or difficulty getting to market. Just prior to Intel Developer Forum, Laptop Magazine was given a demonstration from Lucid with their own attempt.

How about some Thunderbolt?

Mobile GPUs are really the only thing keeping a good laptop from being a gaming machine.

There’s good need for desktop CPUs with lots of RAM – but these days, not to game.

I have been excited each time a product manufacturer claims to have a non-proprietary method to accelerate laptop graphics. Laptops are appealing for so many purposes and it is frustrating to have devices come so close but fall so short of being a reasonable gaming machine.

The demo that Lucid showed off ran 3DMark 06 on an Intel HD 4000 with an external AMD Radeon HD 6700. On integrated graphics the gaming performance hovered just south of 30 FPS. With the Radeon HD 6700 – as expected – performance greatly increased to almost 90 FPS.

It should be much more compelling for a PC store to say “For somewhere near the price of a console, you could dock your laptop which you already own into this box when you want to game and instantly have all PC gaming and Home Theatre PC benefits.”

And it should have happened a long time ago.

September 12, 2012 | 08:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For those who don't know, similar work has been going on at the NBR forums, using expresscard. A lot of the research and records have been kept by a user nando4, who was banned for reasons unknown to the public (or at least to me). We've been waiting for MSI's GUS II to get to market, as well as BPlus' TH05 pci-e-to-thunderbolt connecter. I'm new to the show, but has TWICH ever done a eGPU section? It's just so exciting!!!

September 12, 2012 | 09:48 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Oh yeah this stuff has been going on for a dog's age. Never really picked up too much traction for one reason or another though. Hopefully this time connects.

September 12, 2012 | 09:36 PM - Posted by orvtrebor

I really like this idea, it doesn't need to handle much more than a mid-range video card to be perfect. Anything higher would just be overkill for a mobile processor anyways.

Hope this actually happens and has a reasonable cost. :)

September 12, 2012 | 11:44 PM - Posted by midagedgamerguy (dudz_fryd) (not verified)

It needs to happen and with Thunderbolt adoption it'll likely be a reality if....

The vast majority of folks who buy the ultrabooks and mainstream laptops really care about such an option. I know I do but I'm not mainstream. Most mobile consumers are happy with 2D games like Angry birds or stuff from armor games.

It's an uphill battle against the less is more but really is less crowd. It has to be easy as in no harder than sliding in an SD card and cheap.

I hope it flies, I really do.

September 12, 2012 | 11:55 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

They're not just content with that -- they buy consoles. It just takes a mentality shift.

September 13, 2012 | 03:22 AM - Posted by houston34 (not verified)

i am using nexus 7 to read this article, how come i can watxh the youtube video in this article without redirect to youtube app, nexus 7 does not support flash, so i should not get flash plugging working, weird

September 13, 2012 | 04:38 AM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619

WOW I want "double" graphics cards!

September 13, 2012 | 09:28 AM - Posted by Gunbuster

Why do they keep shooting this to the midrange market?

Here is what they need to sell: Docking station validated to support Nvidia 6XX series cards. Done. Provide the interconnect and power.

An enthusiast who is getting spendy on an ultrabook does not want to dock and then only have an AMD 6700.

September 13, 2012 | 11:26 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

My guess is that when this actually comes to market -- you will either have options between a few types of cards or you will buy the shoe separate from the card (maybe bundle deals).

They probably chose the 6700 because they tested that card the most with their technology and wanted to demo whatever is least likely to fail.

September 13, 2012 | 10:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Funny, whenever pcper and other websites try to compare an ultrabook with the Apple laptops, they never seem to point out in the comparison that the ultrabooks, at current time,
do not have thunderbolt as a standard port. I have seen very few windows laptops with thunderbolt ports! I am no apple fan, but should having or not having a thunderbolt
port as a standard feature be a major selling point for Apple laptops over windows based ultrabooks, at the current time! And many of the windows based ultrabooks seem to be priced around the same as the mac AIR, when the ultrabooks have the same or nearly the same features as the Air, sans the thunderbolt port of course!

September 13, 2012 | 11:35 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

We're not confusing ultrabooks and Apple laptops.

Apple purchased exclusivity on Thunderbolt until still just recently. It will be more available soon -- especially considering Lucid will probably take a little while yet to get to market.

September 14, 2012 | 04:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That is good news to hear, Now gamers just have to be lucky enough to get a laptop's OEM that actually cares about keeping the laptops' HD graphics drivers updated
(and I mean laptop OEMs that utilize customized Intel HD graphics drivers that cannot be updated at the Intel website!), but the lucid option should give laptop owners more options, other than the lower power over priced graphics that many OEMs are offering. I would like Lucid to take this concept one step further and offer a system that allows me to connect a laptop to a desktop, through a thunderbolt cable and have the two computing platforms act as one, more powerful, computing platform! Goodness knows, Microsoft would rather spend all of its resources cranking out confusing GUIs than something more usefull like Lucid's technology!

September 15, 2012 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Apple purchased exclusivity on Thunderbolt! Yes this ended in 2012, so what is the hold up, could it be that chipzilla wants to milk all the $$$ out of thunderbolt it can! I know that Intel most likely has recorverd all of its initial development costs for thundrbolt from apple sales alone, so why the holdup for the ultrabook/laptop OEMs. And what is stoping the laptop reviewers from taking Intel and the laptop OEMs to task on this delay, maybe $$$!

September 16, 2012 | 01:01 AM - Posted by GotchawzX (not verified)

I WANT THISS,but it has to be a reasonable price.

September 17, 2012 | 06:42 PM - Posted by Randomrat (not verified)

What I don't get is why there is any point putting in a really fast graphics card when the bandwidth is 10Gbps (duplex). Surely you're wasting a lot of the cards resources when the bandwitdh is this "low".
In no way am I slating the technology but could someone else shed some light on this point?

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