External Thunderbolt PCI Expansion Chassis and Hub in Development

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. MacRumors, Aug 1, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2011

    MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    #1
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Current generation ViDock​
    VillageTronic seems to have started work on a Thunderbolt version of its ViDock PCI expansion chassis that allows laptop owners to use PCI Express graphics cards on their computers. They lay out the following usage scenario:

    [​IMG]

    The ViDock presently interfaces through laptops using an ExpressCard slot, but we've heard that development has started on a Thunderbolt compatible version. ExpressCard slots are a rarity on Apple's laptops, presently only available on the 17" MacBook Pro. By offering a Thunderbolt version of this expansion chassis, even 11" MacBook Air customers could theoretically drive an external graphics card.

    Villiagetronic originally posted a feeler for such a device on their Facebook page, promising to pursue development if there was enough interest. They've also discussed the possibility of adding USB ports, Ethernet and other ports to the expansion dock. Separately, we've heard the chassis itself will adopt an aluminum "Mac" look, unlike the presently shipping ViDocks (pictured above).

    Sony had previously introduced a similar but proprietary dock system for their upcoming ultra-thin 13" notebook. It's no surprise that companies are starting to work on similar solutions for the broader market, and Villiagetronic isn't alone with a similar Sonnet device also having been announced.

    Article Link: External Thunderbolt PCI Expansion Chassis and Hub in Development
     
  2. talkingfuture macrumors 65816

    talkingfuture

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    #2
    Thats a cool idea. Wouldn't surprise me if Apple themselves have played around with the idea too.
     
  3. Ramsos macrumors regular

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    Exciting possibilities. My thunderbolt iMac could use this.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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  5. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #5
    This is quite old news. Sonnet announced a PCIe expansion dock months back - with their Echo Express boxes.

    linky
     
  6. xstaycold macrumors newbie

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    #6
    would love to see this on thunderbolt displays. it would actually influence me to buy one.
     
  7. Narrie macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Would the Macbook Air be compatible with its stripped down Thunderbolt port?

    This is a very clever solution for people who want to add some extra horsepower to the Air, Mini or the 13" MBP.

    Just think about the possibilities if it's going to be modular. You could just insert a high-end graphics-card and you're good to go.
     
  8. obiwan macrumors 6502

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    #8
    This would be great - I've been clammering for something like this for ages. (Ever since Apple started putting underpowered none-upgradeable graphics cards in their machines.)

    I can only see one major downside though...

    - Who the heck is going to write the software drivers for these Graphics cards? Apple sure isn't - and it's not like there are a whole bunch of Mac compatible graphics cards out there to choose from...
     
  9. MrNomNoms macrumors 65816

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    #9
    So in theory if someone created USB3 drivers for Mac OS X one could put a PCIe USB card into one of those external boxes and thus have what so many people seem to be demanding?
     
  10. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #10
    ...if the drivers for Lion exist, which they probably won't. Also depending on the power supply the true high-end graphics cards might not get enough juice.
     
  11. iSayuSay macrumors 68040

    iSayuSay

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    #11
    Yeah .. imagine that Thunderbolt naysayers ... Can USB 3.0 do that? :D
     
  12. res1233 macrumors 65816

    res1233

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    #12
    I'd imagine anything like this would have to come with its own power supply to be viable in the first place, so I wouldn't worry.

    P.S. So now you people understand why some of us see a bright future for thunderbolt. Buy yourself a low-end mac mini, then get yourself one of these babies, and presto! A gaming PC. All we need now is for AMD/NVidia to start provide their own drivers, then we'd be all set. I wonder if NDIS could be ported to Mac OS?
     
  13. Narrie macrumors newbie

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    If the purpse is gaming, you could just use in boot camp. The selection is still much larger for Windows.
     
  14. arn macrumors god

    arn

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    #14
    The current ViDocks come in 3 configs to handle the power

     
  15. miles01110 macrumors Core

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    #15
    The Sonnets come with 150W or 75W power supplies. The Radeon HD 6970 requires about 360W. So, as I said- the high end graphics cards will still be out of reach unless they decide to stick a rather large PSU on the back of those things.

    Of course, not everyone will need the best of the best. I imagine for most people the bay PSU will suffice for whatever they want to put in it.
     
  16. lostngone macrumors 65816

    lostngone

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    I agree about the Apple/Mac OS X not supporting it. However I doubt the thunderbolt cable would supply power to the box I would guess it would have external power.
     
  17. MacFly123 macrumors 68020

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    Think of the new Apple Thunderbolt Display if Apple put a monster GPU in the display and when you dock your MacBook Air it turbo charges it with a beautiful display and ports already there! This sounds like a logical progression for mobile computing coexisting with power users! :cool:
     
  18. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #18
    That is the wattage the whole system is using, not the power consumption of the GPU (it can't really be measured separately). 6970 has TDP of 250W while the Sonnet and ViDock provide up to 225W (150W PSU + 75W PCIe).
     
  19. benbrownlol macrumors newbie

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  20. jesushavemercy macrumors member

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    Wow, I've been longing for this.
    TBH I don't think that this will work very well outside bootcamp. So it's probably suited for windows more.
     
  21. mac1984user macrumors 6502a

    mac1984user

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    #21
    You won't need to rely on Mac drivers. Just boot camp into Windows 7 for your gaming. Unless you're thinking about productivity software... Still, if Sonnet is making something like this, you know they'll be including Mac drivers of some description for the hardware. They'll probably include a list of supported graphics cards or something. We'll see... The real question will be if the Mac versions of this external design will require Mac versions of the graphics cards. Again, if you just use it for a boot camp installation, that shouldn't matter too much either. Anyway...I'm just speculating, which is about as good as most people are doing, I suppose. =P

    In any case, I will definitely buy something like this if it provides a real solution. I just dumped my PC tower because it's noisy and large and a pain in the rear as it freezes up on occasion. Yes, Windows 7 is better, but I still get a BSD every now and then, and on multiple machines (so, I'm not convinced it's just a hardware issue). Maybe I just suck.
     
  22. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #22
    Thunderbolt doesn't work under Windows (yet). We need drivers for that too.
     
  23. grue macrumors 65816

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    Shame thunderbolt isn't fast enough to support full-speed PCIe cards, otherwise it'd be a lot more interesting.
     
  24. mac1984user macrumors 6502a

    mac1984user

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    #24
    Ha. I suck. Didn't realise Thunderbolt isn't working under Windows yet. Thought there were some random Sony machines or something that were implementing it. Thanks for informing me!
     
  25. obiwan macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Yes I wondered that too - hence my comments about writing software drivers. - It would be far better if the hardware supports Mac and PC graphics cards (if this is possible). There are a far greater (and cheaper) range of PC cards available - but they would require the necessary drivers for them to be supported on the Mac.

    If the hardware only would work with Mac compatible graphics cards, what's the guarantee that these work under Windows 7 even IF thunderbolt was supported.

    I guess we'll have to wait and see.
     

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