CES 2012: MSI Shows Off Thunderbolt-Connected External GPU

Last August, we reported that Village Tronic was working on a Thunderbolt version of its ViDock PCI Express expansion chassis that serves as a docking hub complete with external graphics card for high-end performance. With Thunderbolt-equipped peripherals making a big splash at CES this week, it should come as no surprise that progress on the expansion hub concept is continuing.

msi gus ii thunderbolt gpu hub
AnandTech reports that MSI is the latest entrant into the category, showing off an early demonstration model of just such a product with its GUS II. While the external graphics card (GPU) featured in the demonstration currently works only under Windows, AnandTech suggests that Mac support should be easily achievable for those GPUs supporting the platform.

The external chassis features a Thunderbolt interface and an internal PCIe slot. Despite running on a MacBook Pro there is currently no OS X support for the solution, but it does work under Windows. Presumably if there's OS X support for the GPU inside the enclosure it would work under OS X as well.

The only limitation to the GUS II is the internal GPU has to be powered by PCIe alone (there are no aux PCIe power connectors inside the chassis).

A release date and pricing for the GUS II have yet to be announced, but it certainly seems as though the Thunderbolt standard championed by Apple and Intel is gaining momentum as it seeks to lead the next generation of multi-purpose connectivity technologies.

Top Rated Comments

FSMBP Avatar
125 months ago
It would great if Apple simply included a GPU in its Thunderbolt Display. That way, you have your portable MacBook Air be great on the road & have it be 'decent' graphics machine when you hook it up to the display.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
D.T. Avatar
125 months ago
*This* is where I think Thunderbolt could (and will eventually) really shine. Highly portable machines with low power consuming GPUs for "on the road" (like an Air), with high performance outboard GPU at your desk.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
125 months ago
It would great if Apple simply included a GPU in its Thunderbolt Display. That way, you have your portable MacBook Air be great on the road & have it be 'decent' graphics machine when you hook it up to the display.
I've been saying that (https://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1206075) for a while.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Elijahg Avatar
125 months ago
Also, that's PCIe slot powered so say goodbye to high-end GPUs (MSI claims 150W but PCIe slot is limited to 75W. That's confusing.)
It'd be easy enough for MSI to include a power cable inside the case for beefy graphics cards. Hell, you could hack your own together without much bother if you had a powerful enough PSU sitting around.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redscull Avatar
125 months ago
Hence the reason it would make a lot of sense to incorporate it into a display like the ATD.
Until 1-2 years later when that integrated card would be considered a dinosaur yet the display itself is still perfectly awesome. If the card can't be swapped, it's really not a good deal. Monitor lifetimes are a lot longer than video cards.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SockRolid Avatar
125 months ago
Thunderbolt could be the reason why Apple hasn't updated the Mac Pro in a year and a half. Soon there won't be any need for a big all-in-one tower. For ultra-high-performance, you'll be able to build a cluster of Mac minis, with an external GPU and storage. All connected with Thunderbolt.

Just a crazy theory, but it could happen. Especially after optical Thunderbolt is available.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature

Unreleased Apple Macs and Apple Watches Listed in Eurasian Database Ahead of Fall Product Launches

Monday August 2, 2021 9:34 am PDT by
Apple is preparing for a slew of fall product launches according to new filings that showed up today in the Eurasian Economic Commission database. There are listings for new Mac and Apple Watch models, all of which have previously unknown model identifiers that indicate that they're upcoming devices. There are six new Apple Watch identifiers, including A2473, A2474, A2475, A2476, A2477, and...
ifixit iphone12 mini

Apple to Make Space for Larger Batteries in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks By Adopting Slimmer Peripheral Chips

Monday August 2, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
For future iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, Apple plans to use smaller internal components in an effort to increase the size of the device's battery, according to DigiTimes. Image Credit: iFixit Specifically, Apple plans to "significantly increase the adoption" of IPDs or integrated passive devices for the peripheral chips in its products. These news chips will be slimmer in size and allow for...
Apple Watch 7 Unreleased Feature

Apple Watch Series 7 to Focus on One Major Upgrade

Wednesday August 4, 2021 2:12 am PDT by
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 will focus on one important feature in an attempt to tempt existing Apple Watch users that have an older device to upgrade, according to recent reports. Apple may skip adding new health sensors to this year's Apple Watch Series 7 in favor of improving the device's battery life. The company is said to be adopting new double-sided System in Package (SiP)...
magic keyboard touch id

Apple Makes Magic Keyboard With Touch ID Available for Separate Purchase

Tuesday August 3, 2021 5:22 am PDT by
Apple has made the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, which previously was only available with the purchase of the new 24-inch iMac, available for purchase individually for $149. Apple also retails the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and a numeric keypad for $179. A standard Magic Keyboard without Touch ID or a numeric keypad is available for $99, and a new Magic Trackpad for $129. One major...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...
applestoredown

Apple's Online Store Temporarily Down [Update: Back Up]

Tuesday August 3, 2021 4:01 pm PDT by
Apple's online Apple Store is down at the current time, and attempting to access it to make a purchase gives the standard "Be Right Back" message. Given that it's a Tuesday night/afternoon in the United States and we're not expecting any new products this week, it's likely that this is a temporary maintenance outage that is not related to a new product release. The Apple Store app is also...
themorningshowcarrell

Apple Decided Not to Buy Reese Witherspoon's 'Hello Sunshine' Media Company

Monday August 2, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Reese Witherspoon's media company "Hello Sunshine" recently courted various buyers, and while Apple was one of parties interested in buying Hello Sunshine, the Cupertino company did not end up going through with the purchase. Hello Sunshine was valued at around $900 million thanks to its involvement in popular series like The Morning Show," "Big Little Lies," and "Little Fires Everywhere,"...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Apple Brings China's Luxshare Precision into iPhone 13 Supply Chain to Meet Production Targets

Wednesday August 4, 2021 12:19 am PDT by
Apple is tapping more Chinese suppliers as it seeks to meet ambitious targets for iPhone 13 production, according to a new report by Nikkei Asia. Apple is set to produce between 90 million and 95 million iPhones through January, according to a previous Nikkei report, and China's Luxshare Precision Industry has won 3% of orders away from Taiwanese rivals Foxconn and Pegatron. Luxshare will...
mac pro new graphics

Apple Introduces New High-End Graphics Options for Mac Pro

Tuesday August 3, 2021 7:34 am PDT by
Apple today began offering new high-end graphics upgrade options for both the tower and rack versions of the Mac Pro desktop computer. This comes on the same day that Apple started selling the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID on a standalone basis. As noted by CNN Underscored's Jake Krol, the Mac Pro can now be configured with new AMD Radeon Pro W6800X, W6800X Duo, or W6900X graphics when...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...