2011 Thunderbolt Mini=External Dedicated Graphics Card?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by lilsoccakid74, May 9, 2011.

  1. lilsoccakid74 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Anyone think this will be possible when the new mini comes out with Thunderbolt?
     
  2. durruti macrumors regular

    durruti

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  3. FrancoisC macrumors 6502a

    FrancoisC

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    #3
    Pretty sure it's possible, just a question of will any manufacturer do it?
     
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #4
    http://www.sonnettech.com/news/nab2011/



    look at the echo express


    also look at the fusion f2tbr


    this gives you a real graphics card and a fast ssd raid if they work correctly mac minis will be beasts.
     
  5. Diesel-Benz macrumors member

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    #5
    No. TB is slower than even AGP. At best, you would get the performance of a PCI video card.
     
  6. postjack macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Pretty excited about the possibilities here. I admittedly don't know too much about how the technology works, but if thunderbolt truly allows you to run an external graphics card, it could be Apple's compromise to the small PC gaming market. In other words, people like me who want OSX but can't give up playing Fallout and Elder Scrolls. :)
     
  7. thogin macrumors member

    thogin

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    #7
    Supposedly it will be out sometime this Summer. Very very cool. Just hope it's not too expensive.
     
  8. Diesel-Benz macrumors member

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    #8
    You'll be able to play it, but at very low FPS.
     
  9. tredstone macrumors regular

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    #9
    What about on the OS side though? Will OSX recognize the graphics card and make use of it?
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    Thunderbolt is still MUCH slower than PCIe so I wouldn't wish for an AMD 6990.

    TB = 10Gb/s
    PCIe 2.0 x8 = 32Gb/s
    PCIe 2.0 x16 = 64Gb/s

    Might be fine for lower-end graphics but not for the most powerful cards. Plus, there is no word on how it will work anyway. Sonnet doesn't say anything about support for graphics card. With Mac Pros, you have to flash PC GPUs in order to make them work so it is unlikely that you could just pop in any card you like and it would work.
     
  11. TechnoDestructo macrumors member

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    #11
    Its not possible. TB has a maximum data rate (in perfect conditions) of 1GB/sec, AGP 4x has 1.06GB/sec. So no matter what video card you use it will be very weak by modern standards.

    In other words, the Mini's integrated GPU is more powerful than anything you could put though a TB port, so you might as well just connect the display directly to the TB port!
     
  12. lvlarkkoenen macrumors regular

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    #12
    I wouldn't expect many Mini users to opt for a high-end graphics card though. Question is, will any upgrade you can achieve through this that much better than the IGP to justify the cost? Mini + external GPU might not be that much cheaper than a low-end iMac.
     
  13. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #13
    I would also be afraid of latency..?
     
  14. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #14
    yeah it is interesting to see what comes of this. for a killer fast external boot drive and a decent gpu add-on it may be just too much cash. I like the idea of a cpu in a box (ie 2011 macmini) want more power storage just add on via t-bolt.

    Time will tell IF it will work.
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #15
    TB has low latency (something like 7-8ns IIRC) so it shouldn't be the issue.
     
  16. natethomas1, May 16, 2011
    Last edited: May 16, 2011

    natethomas1 macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Pretty much every other quote I've read says 10gb/sec, not 1. And this article at least http://www.huliq.com/10177/intels-thunderbolt-port-makes-external-graphics-cards-feasible suggests that most x16 PCIe graphic cards using about 4gb to 7gb/sec, which is within the usable range.

    Here's a second article on the same point. http://appleheadlines.com/2011/02/2...derbolt”-can-help-your-future-mac-experience/

    Edit: Ah, I just suddenly realized you said GB rather than Gb. My reading says that you are basically correct, though the GB number is 1.25. As PCIe 1.x supports 250MB/sec per lane, at 16x lanes, that'd be 4GByte/sec up and down, which is nearly 4 times faster than Thunderbolt at 10Gbit/sec.

    That's assuming I'm reading everything correctly and no authors are playing fast and loose with the byte/bit distinction.
     
  17. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #17
    The articles you've been reading talk about giga bits. We are talking about giga bytes.
     
  18. Icy1007 macrumors 65816

    Icy1007

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    #18
    TB actually has a peak data rate of 1.25GB/sec
     
  19. Mal67 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Hurry up Apple and give us a SB mini so we can find out.
     
  20. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #20
    That article is pure crap. It says TB can provide more than PCIe x16, which is nothing else but false.

    Thunderbolt = 10Gb/s
    PCIe 2.0 x16 = 64Gb/s

    They are probably mixing the bits and bytes too when they say 4-7Gb/s is what most PCIe buses provide. PCIe 2.0 x1 provides 4Gb/s alone. Their usage of the word PCI instead of PCIe doesn't make it sound more credible either.
     
  21. natethomas1 macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Good job reading my entire post, where I already made that point.
     
  22. lilsoccakid74 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    thanks for all the replys. Even being able to support a low end card might provide some hope for other mini users feeling the pain from the minis graphics card.

    Will be watching closely to see how this unfolds if they ever upgrade the mini:eek:
     
  23. trip1ex macrumors 68000

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    #23
    Pipe dreams. The cost of a Mini plus an external dedicated graphics card won't make any sense and it will never happen. Just get an Imac.
     
  24. lilsoccakid74 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24
    for people who want to choose the monitor of their choice, and dont have 2k for a mac pro, i think it makes perfect sense.
     
  25. lvlarkkoenen macrumors regular

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    #25
    Well for some of those people it'd make perfect sense if Apple released matte iMac BTO's. I'm not really one of them and there's plenty of threads about it but I still find it silly. Ofcourse others may have still other needs for their monitor. In which case it'd make perfect sense if there was a bit more of a decent graphics solution in the mini. Perhaps as a BTO. But Apple probably won't put a SB CPU and a dedicated GPU in a Mini.

    In the end you're right, customer side it would make sense to do just what you propose. It'd suck though, to have your graphics power limited by the connection it uses while there's better technology out there.
     

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