A Thunderbolt display with built-in GPU? Is it a good idea?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by poiihy, Nov 29, 2014.

?

Good idea?

  1. Yes

    66.7%
  2. No

    26.7%
  3. Dunno

    6.7%
  1. poiihy, Nov 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2014

    poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #1
    Wouldn't it be cool if the Apple Thunderbolt Cinema display had a built-in GPU? And a plug-and-play technology which allows you to switch GPUs instantly without rebooting? Then when you dock your MBP, it would use a more powerful GPU inside the display, rather than the one in the MBP. And if the display is plugged into something that does not support this feature, it would just pass-through and act like a regular monitor. Is this a good idea? Comments please.
     
  2. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #2
    The problem is that the Thunderbolt interface is much slower than the multi-lane PCIe interface inside the box. GPUs typically have a X16 PCIe interface... which is much faster than you can get from Thunderbolt. 8Gb/s PCIe X 16 lanes is the equivalent of 128 Gb/sec.

    With a 10-20 Gb/s Thunderbolt interface to the GPU, I think you would be disappointed.

    /Jim
     
  3. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #3
    Do GPUs currently saturate x16?
     
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #4
    You can always run things slower... but the short answer is yes, they need the X16 interface to get the best performance. If they didn't benefit, then GPUs would generally use a X8 interface to be more affordable. BTW: Thunderbolt 2 is still only about 1/3 the performance of a X8 PCIe.

    /Jim
     
  5. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #5
    It depends on the GPU.
     
  6. poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #6
    Aww :( Well... maybe with Thunderbolt 4 or 5...

    If Thunderbolt could reach such high speeds, would this be a good idea?
     
  7. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #7
    Would be more than fast enough...

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7987/running-an-nvidia-gtx-780-ti-over-thunderbolt-2
     
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #8
    The article says that synthetic benchmarks were performing at 89-90% performance. It then goes on to say that for some applications, there would be no performance degradation, while others could suffer as much as 50%.

    IMHO, That variability seems excessive for a product aimed at the enthusiast market.

    /Jim
     
  9. crazyxzer0 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    #9
    Just this quote alone from that article shows me that Thunderbolt is not ready for a solution like this.
     
  10. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #10
    Right, but be aware that Anandtech experiment is a cobbled together, with no official support. Now, make that officially supported by Apple, and we're in business. It would work well, or - at least significantly better than the Intel HD5000 in a MacBook Pro..

    This wouldn't be the first time an external GPU has made a helluva difference. I have a Vaio Z2, and it has an eGPU from Sony using Lightpeak (essentially Thunderbolt), taking you from the Intel HD3000 to the AMD 7670 when it's connected. It also adds USB 3.0, HDMI out, and a Blu-ray drive - with the GPU! The difference in performance is huge.

    Either way, the technology WORKS, and I wish it existed with higher-end GPUs officially.
     

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