Example of an External Dock and GPU Over Thunderbolt Technology
Sony just announced a new ultra-thin 13.1" notebook that integrates Thunderbolt in a unique way. Sony is offering a "Power Media Dock" which is an expansion module that connects to the laptop via an optical cable.
Featuring high-speed I/O data transfer based on the architecture codenamed ‘Light Peak’, Power Media Dock boosts graphics performance while adding numerous extra connectivity options. It includes an optical drive for even greater business productivity and satisfying HD entertainment. The module comes supplied with a stylish design-matched stand.
The notebook itself only contains an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU, while the external dock contains an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of Video RAM. This allows the computer to gain extra graphics capabilities when connected to the dock. The dock can drive up to 3 additional displays beyond the notebook's own screen. As noted by ThisisMyNext, Sony's solution seems to be proprietary and based around a USB 3.0 connector as previously reported.
The possibility of such an external GPU has been discussed many times on our forums, and Sonnet previously announced an external PCIe 2.0 expansion chassis that would allow customers to add PCI expansion cards over Thunderbolt. It has been pointed out however that Thunderbolt's available bandwidth is much lower than required by high end video cards, so this will only help in certain scenarios. Still, this shows some possibilities for expansion docking products for the MacBook Air or Mac mini after they get upgraded to Thunderbolt.