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Intel predicts 'a resurgence' of external GPUs because of Thunderbolt 5's huge bandwidth increase


bonami2

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Jason Ziller, head of Intel's Client Connectivity Division, told us the new interface will be the "best version for creators and gamers," and with up to 120Gbps of bandwidth and 240W power delivery available on Thunderbolt 5 it's tough to argue against him.

https://www.pcgamer.com/intel-predicts-a-resurgence-of-external-gpus-because-of-thunderbolt-5s-huge-bandwidth-increase/

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Haha, a resurgence? As if this even had traction before... 

 

No way this is ever more than a niche of a niche. 

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I echo UltraMega on the resurgence bit. What resurgence? I flirted with eGPU setups in the ExpressCard days when the entire concept was conceived in a Notebook Review forum thread, before Thunderbolt became the external port of choice. I never had a working implementation of one because I'm pretty sure the ExpressCard port in my old Lenovo ThinkPad T500 was defective. It had occasional dropouts with my ExpressCard CompactFlash adapter, never mind a GeForce GTX 560.

 

By the time I eventually upgraded to a ThinkPad W520, its GPU was sufficient enough to run the couch co-op games I wanted to play in the family room at the time.

 

While it'll be easier than ever to run an eGPU now, if you're serious enough about gaming, you probably wouldn't have a laptop or NUC-sized rig as your primary machine anyway. My use case back then was not having big enough screens or the right entertainment room setup for my desktop (clearly no longer an issue) and being very particular about features on my laptop that I wasn't willing to move off of a ThinkPad back then. I've since relented on that because these days, I primarily use a laptop to watch YouTube videos while I'm in the kitchen.

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I agree with the sentiments. eGPU was extremely niche and even with TB5, I do not see people flocking out to by eGPU's. Ultimately it is about the demand for the product, not the underlying technology, you can improve the technology all you want but that does not mean you are creating more demand.

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14 hours ago, ENTERPRISE said:

I agree with the sentiments. eGPU was extremely niche and even with TB5, I do not see people flocking out to by eGPU's. Ultimately it is about the demand for the product, not the underlying technology, you can improve the technology all you want but that does not mean you are creating more demand.

 

I've been looking for eGPU solutions for laptops, since before it was cool. /s

😝

 

No, seriously.
As a teenager, every few-months I'd research the topic. In my 20s, I'd research it a couple-few times a year.
  [I felt like I was "contributing, at a distance" as I watched the very first 'solutions' come into being, and then Retail eGPU enclosures coming to market]

 

When the eGPU concept got popular w/ 'Content-Creators/Pros' I was deeply saddened to see it 'relegated' to Intel-Apple Thunderbolt. 

 

In both my personal and generalized opinion(s)

eGPU is/was 'niche' due *entirely* to the expense and specialized requirements of ThunderBolt.

or, physically modifying your laptop for externalized access to an mPCIe or (PCIe-equipped) M.2 Slot

and, using 'kludge-like' (or overpriced) 'import' riser-adaptors.

 

USB4 has a chance to change that, and make eGPUs a 'normal thing'.

(all Win11 'sticker-certified' laptops *must* support USB4 PCIe and DP operation)

 

Topically, though...

Gotta agree that TB5 isn't gonna do a single thing to help/hinder eGPUs. Full-implementation USB4 will.

(I also think Intel is having regrets @ sharing TB3's spec w/ USB-IF. They're trying very hard to not let USB4 cannibalize ThunderBolt)

Edited by LabRat
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I'm kinda with everyone here.  Have my own story.  I too always wanted an eGPU on a laptop for portability performance.  Ended up buying a Ryzen 2500u laptop instead.  Its not just a matter of eGPU's being a niche market, its also a matter of how good integrated graphics have gotten too.

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Egpu are kinda dead because of streaming. We just need better network availability worldwide.  Why carry a laptop when you can carry a foldable tablet with a keyboard and mouse!

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3 hours ago, bonami2 said:

Egpu are kinda dead because of streaming. We just need better network availability worldwide.  Why carry a laptop when you can carry a foldable tablet with a keyboard and mouse!

Perhaps, you find the Latency acceptable, I do not.

(Even, over a simple and modern LAN or WirelessLAN)
I believe that's something of a sentiment shared by a portion of Retro-Console community, too.

See: FPGA Retro Consoles

 

You have a point, nonetheless.
For those who either "don't know any better" and/or "cannot tell the difference",

'streaming' is an apparent, simple, and affordable solution.

 

From my PoV (in researching eGPU's progress over the years),

I'd say the biggest consumers of eGPU enclosures were

professional artists, graphic designers/animators, CADworkers, and Pro media editors.

That's a market, and one that can/will easily shell out $$$$.

Note: Even for Pros, Amazon AWS (aka: streaming) allows a similar utility.

 

Yet, I still think this is more a cost-availability (and publicity-marketing) thing:

If no AIB/manufacturer is willing to make 'affordable' eGPU 'kits' (and advertise them),

then it'll never become popular. 
Ex: Many (Apple) users cannot even conceive of upgrading their machine without just buying a whole new one. Why would they think 'plugging in an upgrade' would be possible?

 

 

IMO, Intel's just trying to stir-up attention on ThunderBolt 5,

and their License(d) Partners' "Features and Abilities".

Sadly, Thunderbolt has almost always been relegated to 'premium' offerings. Rarely, if ever will you've found Thunderbolt on a Sub-$800 (MSRP) laptop.

 

To me, Intel's attempt @ PR here is entirely self-defeating.

-Advertise something that will only become popular if affordable 

-Yet, relegate that "advertised feature set" to only premium units.

 

Edit:

Quote

USB4 as implemented on Windows 11 laptops, however, looks to be a little more clear cut as Microsoft seems to require advanced PCIe support for any laptop with a USB4 port. That hopefully means every new Windows 11 laptop with a USB4 port must be compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices besides working with USB4/Thunderbolt 4 devices. Where this gets a little odd is that Microsoft cites USB4’s requirement for PCIe to mandate it, but the actual USB4 spec makes it optional.

WWW.PCWORLD.COM

Not gonna lie, I legit got giddy plugging a Thunderbolt device into an AMD-based laptop with real USB4 support.

 

LEARN.MICROSOFT.COM

Verifies that systems support PCIe tunneling on all exposed USB4 ports.


 

Edited by LabRat
adding some info on Win11/USB4 that I should've in my previous post.
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@LabRat Never did i think about workstation that a really good reason to use eGPU And yea streaming latency is bad. But for a lot of game it not really bad. I was playing some skyrim/wow doing quest using my mobile lte once. Issue was bandwith more than anything.  I do have a low latency display on my laptop so it help.  

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Would say the cost of enclosure also factor in low adoption, a good standard one cost about mid-range GPU price, which you could just use to buy PC. I do like the idea of having eGPU, for example during travelling I could bring my portable 13" laptop anywhere at daytime and use the eGPU on hotel's TV at night, but current implementation is just too expensive and too cumbersome. Maybe something like ROG XG Mobile or GPD G1 would be very interesting moving forward.

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