Visiting the SilverStone booth was rather interesting.  In a similar ilk to MSI’s GUS which used Thunderbolt to transmit data over PCIe, Silverstone are developing their own at-home device capable of dual-width GPUs up to 450W.

This is still in the development cycle – the main issue with MSI’s device (and I’d assume Silverstone as well) is how to deal with hot-plugging during the middle of intense GPU workloads.  Aside from frame buffer management, at the point in time when the device is detatched there is no longer access to any data on the card – the PC or laptop then has to transfer what it knows to the frame buffer on the IGP and recalculate.  Sounds easy-ish, but not a trivial task by any means.

Silverstone told me there is no release date as such as they are still in the alpha phase of development, but they are aiming for the $200-250 price point without a GPU. 

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  • Khenglish - Friday, June 7, 2013 - link

    When I used an external card through the expresscard slot "hotplug issues" that have been brought up here were a minor concern, especially when the external card is nvidia. The card is available in the "safely remove hardware" icon and you can eject it at any time. If you are actively rendering something off that card there will obviously be a problem, but after disabling/ejecting the card everything runs off the IGP like the card was never there. The only issue is that games will reset settings on you when they see that they are being run by a different gpu.

    The big problems that people have are not enough PCI config space (mostly a problem on macs and some dells), which can be solved for all systems by enabling 36-bit allocation through a DSDT override. The 2nd problem being some laptops being quirky when detecting an extra gpu on post (refusing to post, disabling the IGP, etc), and that is solved by just hotplugging the external card (the expresscard, not the pci-e slot).

    For those of you wondering about the performance on thunderbolt, look at the x2 2.0 results in what I linked above. Giant performance tables if you scroll down. x2.2 means x2 PCI-E 2.0 link, while x1.2opt means an x1 2.0 link with nvidia's pci-e compression running.
  • Sm0kes - Friday, June 7, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately, this will likely never hit the market. Just look at thunderbolt adoption (outside of Apple) and it's unclear who would even be the target market for this. MSI announced a similar product several years ago (GUS II), which is still vaporware.
  • twistedgamez - Friday, June 7, 2013 - link

    apple laptops are the majority in my software cohort at uni, if they were to actually sell this then many of us would buy it to play games - we don't have the money to shell out for a full rig but $250 + $250~$450 + monitor (which we probably already have) is more reasonable
  • Sushisamurai - Saturday, June 22, 2013 - link

    What graphics card would be reaching / approaching the bottleneck of thunderbolt? A 680? 650? 760?

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