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back to article AMD launches external graphics card box

AMD used the Computex show in Taipei this week to propose XGP - eXternal Graphics Platform, a slimline box you connect your GPU-lite laptop to when you need more graphics horsepower. Fujitsu Siemens (FSC) was on hand to demo the concept with its Amilo GraphicBooster, an AppleTV-like unit with an AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 GPU built …

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I can see the PERFECT market for this...

SCC - small, cheap computers

With this as an addon bonus to those that occasionaly game :)

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Stop

This seemed great...at first

then unless I'm missing something. You can upgrade an older laptop (Fantastic).....it will require a special port.

Hold on. Where will this connect to, my older laptop has no such port.

MY PCMCIA slot is full so where on my "Older" laptop will it connect?

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Happy

looking forward to it

I've been having the idea of an external GPU since before upgrading to my current notebook. The idea of changing notebooks just to get a better GPU seem to be an over kill. This external GPU can save me a bundle since it will be cheaper then buying a full notebook.

Although I do hope that they will provide a PCMCIA adapter for the connector, otherwise it will be another upgrade for the privilege of being able to upgrade!

P.S. another alternative would be for a virtual GPU that run as a separate virtual machine on the hardware that does support it.

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Anonymous Coward

Port Replicator

Now if it were built into a port replicator/docking station as a module then it would go far. A PC for gaming at home and use on the move too!

as for multi-monitor use my bog standard dell flappy port replicator has dvi and analogue ports which are both used for screens quiet happily, although I dont play games on the flappy.

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Unhappy

"At that point, we might see all those Intel-based laptops taking on the technology"

And pigs might fly.

AMD opened HyperTransport to world+dog and it's now overseen by a standards body. The potential for standardisation there was astronomical with people already producing HT pluggable addons such as FPGAs for AMD servers. The benefits for the MB and component manufacturers needing only to change the CPU socket and its connections between AMD/Intel versions rather than the entire chipset would have been phenomenal. Intel could have aquired a bit of the AMD mobo market share, some of their chipsets are rather good.

But Intel still went off and built CSI.

I'm sure that Intel laptops *will* get something like this, but I'll bet a sack of cash that it'll be fundamentally incompatible with that which AMD has produced.

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Si

ASUS already did it

ASUS unveiled the XG station last year and since it uses an ExpressCard to connect to the laptop it's more likely to work with more laptops that this proprietary connector. It also lets you put your own PCI-E card in it.

The only disadvantage is that ExpressCard is only PCI-E 1x, so you don't have much bandwidth compared to AMD's custom socket with full 8x or 16x PCI-E. But on laptops with an XGA/WXGA res screen, would you need all that bandwidth?

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Bandwidth

I don't think there's enough bandwidth across PCMCIA for an external graphics card (I've seen 20MBps quoted - the adaptor ATI have made apparently has a theoretical max of 4GBps!). So honestly, the external card will only be good for new laptops, not old ones.

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Don't think this will work for PCMCIA

Isn't the bandwidth available for PCMCIA nowhere near enough for this sort of thing, hence it not being done before now?

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do my eyes deceive me?

Is that the michelin man making a shadow puppet dog in the corner of the picture?

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Presentations

It makes sense... I often see laptops used by a speaker at a presentation, he pops it on the pedestal and plugs in a projector that's already in the conference room/lecture theatre. This way the diminutive laptop can power a higher resolution image. It doesn't matter if the audience can't tell the definition at their distance, it still sounds like a good idea.

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ATI/AMD X.Org/Linux Drivers Teams have a task on their hands

It should be fun to try and watch either fglrx, ati or radeonhd develop support for this. Especially with the idea of being able to use the laptops internal screen which could be hardwired to a card made by AMD/ATI, nVidia, Intel or VIA.

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Will it be compatible?

From http://ati.amd.com/technology/xgp/howdoesitwork.html

"The device connects to specially designed notebook using the uniquely crafted external PCI Express© 2.0 connector"...

*sigh* so it's not backwards compatible with the millions of the laptops in the world - unless they are intending on also releasing PCMCIA PCI Express© 2.0 connector cards too.

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Unfortunately, there's no chance of that....

PCMCIA doesn't have anywhere near the bandwidth to make this work. Expresscard could do it. In fact, as I recall, ASUS launched a similar expresscard-attached product last year that could augment the onboard GPU when driving an external monitor. It couldn't drive the laptop's own monitor, though.

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you sill need a good notebook to use it

I've just reread the article.... you still need a good notebook to use this device. It will handle your GPU needs _only_, you will still need a decent processor and amount of RAM to play games.

This device is useless for old or small cheap notebooks. It is meant for notebook that have duo/quad core process but comes with a low end GPU. Or comes with a GPU that need to be upgraded to use DX10.1 (like in my case)

well, that is my understanding of the device.

cheers

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Anonymous Coward

Internal...

It'd be more useful if the plug was internal so you could swap graphics chips when you find out the truly phenomenal horsepower required to run scrabble.

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Ben
Heart

Brilliant !

Combined with the frankly astounding audio quality of every laptop i've tried this can do nothing but enhance the multimedia savvy user experience (tm) , your favourite drum and bass choons transformed automatically into what sounds like a Trabant with a thrown conrod .....

truly ....... er ............awesome .

The "heart" icon , because its friday n'that , have a good one companeros ........

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Alternatively

If your laptop's GPU is alright and you just want dual (or triple) head support ther is always this:

http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/dh2go/home.php

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XG ROG

Someone will hopefully make an ExpressCard to XGP adapter if AMD don't.

The last laptop I bought, I bought specifically because it had an ExpressCard port and I knew these external graphics solutions would never work with PCMCIA. Hopefully I invested wisely.

Interestingly here, the XGP technology feeds the signal back in to the laptop screen, something which I believe the Asus unit can't do. Perhaps this is why a custom port is required. Although I would still be interested in interfacing it to my machine for use with an external display via ExpressCard.

Come what may, finally external graphics solutions are an option, which is fantastic.

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@Ben

"your favourite drum and bass choons transformed automatically into what sounds like a Trabant with a thrown conrod ....."

See icon for my assessment of the above quote.

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Boffin

How many displays do you wan't for your telephone?

What this allows is a small hand held mobile device like a telephone, to be converted into a regular PC by plugging it into an external box that will provide higher resolution and even multi-monitor support.

I presume it also has some future expansion capability to act as a docking port as well. Certainly there is nothing prohibiting it.

One device. Portable when you need it - with limited display capacity, and desktop graphics when needed.

Is this being targeted at the laptop market or the telephone market???

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ExpressCard grahics adaptors

I went and had a look at the ExpressCard.org website.

ExpressCard spec can't deliver enough power itself for a modern graphics card. Cooling would be an issue as well. However, a low power, cool running graphics card must be possible.

Magma do PCI and PCI Express expansion doobries but they are not cheap.

I don't really need (a lot of) acceleration because I don't play graphically demanding games. While my laptop has ExpressCard, it's only got a VGA out. I keep looking at the Belkin High Speed Hub and wondering if it'll do the business.

But longer term, surely the next iterations of both USB and/or Firewire will deliver the necessary band width?

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