Echo Express Pro: Desktop Graphics In A Thunderbolt Chassis

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I see the cloud computing people using 10 gigabit and faster ethernet and using specilized hardware to tunnel PCIe over ethernet, but are their any external box makers using ethernet yet, I bet Intel would not like this technology finding it way into the home matket! I guess thundebolt is just Intel's way of proprietize a high speed connection, and milk it for all it can! Could there be a laptop OEM that would dare put a 10 gigabit ethernet card in a laptop?
 

pocketdrummer

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So, $800 for a device that's already obsolete? If a GTX 460 is the fastest thing supported, you'll end up dropping close to $1000 for ho-hum performance.

Thunderbolt is still overpriced and it still under-performs.
 
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Could an external enclosure use 2 thunderbolt connections, and thus (if possible) double the bandwidth? The problem is that there seems to be some huge advances in graphics cards in the next couple of years (Maxwell for one), but this limited bandwidth will be more and more noticeable as grapics cards improve even further, as well as the system requirements for PC games.
 

Jay-Z

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This will only become viable when the price goes down. A ROG Laptop would be a better choice for the time being if you want portable performance.
 

ronmccord

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This is my dream, have any laptop I want and plug it into my 30 inch monitor when at home and game.
Right now I have a m18x alienware and thinking about getting a sager 15.6 inch to game and travel with.
If this tech was ready to buy now would not even buy a gaming system but just a nice 13 or 14 inch laptop and have only one system!! Someone make this happen in 2013 and I will buy it and pay the price you are asking also for the convenience and simplicity
 

dcam

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I bought pretty deeply in to Thunderbolt: I have an Apple Thunderbolt Display and a late-2011 MacBook Air. How can I take advantage of this? Or can I?

The display has to have thunderbolt input, so I would need a graphics card that outputs Thunderbolt, or the enclosure would need to be able to daisy-chain out to the display. It's a shame apple didn't build a GPU in to the display in the first place.

Are there graphics cards out there with Thunderbolt outputs? Does the enclosure allow for daisy-chaining? If the enclosure does, do the cards? Or that MVP software from Lucid? So many questions...
 

mikishapiro

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So..
1. I'm building a similar rig. Macbook air 11'', 8GB RAM, core i7 + Sonnet Echo Express Pro + GTX 660Ti.
2. Several points for the people who gave us the article:
a. Re power connector. Google "FSP Booster X5": Another 80$ and you can drive a GTX 690 in there. Nice, compact and sits right next to your sonnet:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817104054&name=Power-Supplies

b. Remember how they taught us all those years ago that the amount of RAM has nothing to do with how fast a graphics card is, and it's all about the GPU chip? Well, they were right.... as long as you can keep dumping new code and textures into your GPU with no impediment whatsoever.
Not so right when you have limited capability (read: thunderbolt) between GPU and CPU/ram, and the more you cache, the less you slow down to wait for stuff to come through the pipe.
For this reason, my rig will use a GTX 660 with 3GB. (I'm tempted to buy a 690 with 4GB just for the bragging rights of running one on my macbook air, but sanity seems to want to intervene).

c. Thunderbolt comes in two flavors - single-channel (1x10Gbit in each direction) and dual-channel (2 x same). Some elaboration please - did your equipment (motherboard, Sonnet) have/use one or two channels? My 2011 mac had a single-channel TB controller, whereas my current one has a dual-channel. Does the sonnet take advantage of the second channel or not?


Can I suggest you guys do a followup
 

dcam

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[citation][nom]mikishapiro[/nom]So.. 1. I'm building a similar rig. Macbook air 11'', 8GB RAM, core i7 + Sonnet Echo Express Pro + GTX 660Ti.[/citation]

Curious because of my set-up (MacBook Air and Thuderbolt monitor)... What type of connection are you running from your echo'd videocard to your monitor?
 

RedJaron

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The card can only cache what's being sent to it. With the limit of the Thunderbolt pipe, the extra RAM won't be used since the GPU will be processing info as fast as it receives it. You won't have anything left over to cache. Swapping in a 690 wouldn't help matters since the Thunderbolt and the MacBook CPU are still your bottlenecks. Look at the article again and notice how the lowly 460 performs nearly as well as the 6970.

And on the 660, the 3GB version is usually a touch slower than the 2GB version. It's likely due to the 660's limited 192-bit memory interface ( most higher-end cards sport 256-bit or even 384-bit interfaces. )
 

skgiven

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Who would want to use a GeForce GTX 460 with such an expensive device? It's 2 generations old. Even the HD is a generation old. That's like 13" wheels on a Ferrari, you'll go slower and look stupid.
The article is pointless if not misleading - 2GB/s just isn't enough for a good GPU.
Stick a GTX680 in there and see how it gets on!
Against an external PCIE card supported by a PCIE extension cable (20GB/s) this thing flunks. Even laptops can get up to 5GB/s using a PCIE adaptor. It's only 40% of what's already out there (for laptops).
Also if you have an APU, it won't scale well (adding an external or discrete card doesn't work well), so it's not an option. This limits the device mainly to Intel processors, and probably just high end laptops too; it won't appear on too many ultrabooks, mid range laptops, and is far too rich for a browser system.
For other devices thunderbolt is just an expensive alternative to good enough for now (USB3, SATA6, display port, HDMI)
 

mikishapiro

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Oct 24, 2012
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Guys - and in particular the tomshardware crew:
1. http://forum.notebookreview.com/e-gpu-external-graphics-discussion/418851-diy-egpu-experiences-1135.html#post8914122

Most klickass macbook air you've ever seen :)

2. Your turn.
a - Buy a macbook PRO retina 13''.
b - do what I did above,with a GPU *equivalent* to the one in the rMBP.
c - do what I did above with a 660, a 680 or even a 690, and the ATI equivalents thereof.
d - run some benchmark to establish how much raw bandwidth a dual-channel TB controller on the mac -> sonnet echo express pro actually gives. Not in frames/sec. In MB/sec TRANSFER RATE. hack something together that pushes textures with DX11.

C'mon guys, you need to keep ahead of the enthusiasts!! :)
 

mikishapiro

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Wasn't clear about the above - would love to see how rMBP built-in kepler measures up to a similar one at the end of a TB bus, and measures up to more powerful cards choked by the limited bandwidth of the tb bus. At sane resolutions, and at insane ones (insane = 2560x1600 on external display =4megapixel, or 3 monitors x 1920 x 1080=6megapixel).
 
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Wow, for $800, you can just build a whole new high-end PC to put the graphics card in.
 

mikishapiro

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Orangejedi:
And for the cost of one $100 pair of pants you can buy four $25 pairs of pants. So what?
If you're building a gamebox out of a macbook air, you're not doing it to save money, nor is it the most frames per second your dollar can buy.
 
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