Graphics accelerator as peripheral?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JesseJames, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    At the risk of sounding ignorant I'll throw this out there.
    This has to do with the power of laptop computers.
    Considering that you usually are sacrificing power for portability with laptops. I was wondering if you could have your cake and eat it too.
    Couldn't ATI or Nvidia make an off board unit that can augment the performance of the internal graphics accelerator on a laptop? And you could just plug it in like an external harddrive?
    So you would still have decent graphics performance with your internal unit. Yet should you want the extra POWER, you could hit the "supercharger".
    Is this technically feasible?
     
  2. generik macrumors 601

    generik

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    #2
    Impossible, the bandwidth requirements needed by a graphics card are so high it just has to be an internal kind of thing.

    What'd be interesting is if laptop manufacturers can come together and agree on a standard "mini PCIe" card standard so that they can just switch and swop graphics cards as needed, but again it is unlikely to happen. Different manufacturers may have different design requirements, and such a standardised design might impose constraints on the manufacturer during the design phase.

    My guess is integrated/onboard graphics solutions will still be the way to go for laptops for a long time to come, as sucky as it might be.
     
  3. Laser47 macrumors 6502a

    Laser47

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    #3
    I could be possible but they would have to come up with a way of connecting it to the computer, all external busses available are too slow, graphics busses use over 2gb/s connections. However, thats a very interesting idea.
    I remember a while back when Alienware's top of the line notebooks had replaceable GPU's, I dont know if they still do that now.
     
  4. iMeowbot macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

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    #4
    I don't know of any cards that use it yet, but the Expresscard slot in the MacBook Pro should be enough to do the job.
     
  5. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    #5
    I doubt that Apple would ever use a mini card since that'd take more space than a chip right on the motherboard, and they're obsessed with making notebooks small. But maybe if the GPU chip used a ZIF socket, then it could work. You'd think that ATI and nVidia would want to be able to sell you more than one chip for the lifetime of your one notebook.
     
  6. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #6
    Other than it will be limited in bus speed because ExpressCard is limited to 1 lane, but if I remember it correctly, 1 lane is slightly faster than AGP 8x. There's no reason why you couldn't make a box with a GPU in it and a connector to the ExpressCard slot though.
     
  7. JesseJames thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    I'm surprised that no manufacturer hasn't jumped on this yet.
    It could be worth millions. And Apple is the company that could pull it off with flying colors. If they choose to do it.
     
  8. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #8
    no it's not, 1 lane is like agp 1x
     
  9. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #9
    I stand corrected. Either way though, it will be too slow for any GPU which is considered an upgrade. This doesn't mean that there couldn't be products to allow 3 DVI ports (Think something like the Matrox Parhelia series). It is not the most powerful GPU in the world, but it does have a certain market where many outputs (spanned) are needed, and PCI-e 1x would be enough bandwidth to feed them.

    What might be more useful (for gamers) than a GPU upgrade is the possibility of a physics accelerator like the Ageia PhysX, which currently runs on the PCI bus (but plans are for PCI-e).
     
  10. beige matchbox macrumors 6502a

    beige matchbox

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    #10
    No idea who it was, as i wasn't all that interested. But i remember reading about a laptop that had 2 graphics cards, 1 was intel integrated, and the other one of the high end nvidia jobbies i think. You can switch to the integrated one if you want more time while portable, and the nvidia when you had some mains power handy

    Could it have been a dell? :confused:, don't know. Sounded like a good compromise though for the battery life vs. performance :)
     
  11. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #11
    Never heard of that, but there is a portable that has a (desktop) 7800GT in SLI (so 2 processors). The machine is over 3 inches thick, and it is limited by a low end Sempron processor (so you can never push the 7800GTs hard enough to take full advantage). The battery life is 45 minutes, and you can't use SLI while on battery. The majority of the machine is heatsink.
     
  12. homerjward macrumors 68030

    homerjward

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    #12
    err.....
    it's a turion
    and they're gtx's
    and it's ~1.5" thick
    with a 19" screen
    http://www.sagernotebook.com/pages/go_np5950.html

    and the integrated/dedicated laptop is an alienware
    http://alienware.com/product_detail...sCode=PC-LT-AREA51-M-5500&SubCode=SKU-DEFAULT

    i must admit i wonder why they didn't put a socket 939 in that sli notebook and just make it 2.5" thick.....seems like a compromise to me. maybe they'll do one with m2 :D
     
  13. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a

    mmmcheese

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    #13
    It seems to be an answer to a problem that doesn't exist. It's basically a small desktop computer. You'd think you'd be better off buying a small shuttle box (which would be more powerful) and an LCD screen. It would be just as portable to LAN parties and stuff like that, without the limitations.
     
  14. howesey macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    It's impossible.

    It's not just bandwidth, but also latency.


    Cable is not good enough, even too long copper tracks on the PCB can cause problems. Fibre optics would cover the bandwidth, however the laser would cost a bomb and so would the single mode fibre optic cable. Optics would also be too latent.
     
  15. Laser47 macrumors 6502a

    Laser47

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    #15
    Good point!
    I think they should just come up with notebooks that have replaceable video cards, where you just unscrew a couple screws pop out the old gpu module and put in a new one, but laptop companies would never go for that. They would rather you just buy a new notebook.
     
  16. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

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    #16
    I know they make some DIY notebooks that have the option of different video cards, but you have to buy that specific manufacturers card, so there's no standardized video card size or swapping available for notebooks. Yet.

    There used to also be a product (I can't seem to find it now) that would fit in your Powerbooks PC card slot and allow you to power another monitor. I think it had 32MB of VRAM on it (Seeing as my Ti has 8MB, it's quite the bump!). It'd be cool if they could make something like that again, only much more powerful.
     
  17. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #18
    A GPU requires a lot of bandwidth and power, and puts out a fair amount of heat. I don't think that an add-on GPU is any more feasable than an add-on CPU...

    It IS possible to make a lapto that has it's GPU on a daughtercard, making it upgradable. Some laptops utilize this but currently it's more an aid to the BTO process, with no "retail" GPUs in this configuration that I know of.
     
  18. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

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    #19
  19. howesey macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I have an Advent laptop and the chip (the videocard is all on one chip) is on a ZIF board. It's an ATi card BTW.
     
  20. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    #21
    It'd be cool if you could use one for display, and the other as a dedicated math coprocessor, simultaneously. That's probably be pretty useful for all those people who's motherboards come with Intel integrated, even though they're using a better dedicated PCIe GPU.
     

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