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.


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

(View all)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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

Samsung Mocks Apple for Ditching Power Adapters With iPhone 12 Lineup

Thursday October 15, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Samsung on its social channels is mocking Apple for removing the power adapter from the iPhone 12 lineup and other iPhone models, pointing out the fact that the Samsung Galaxy smartphones continue to ship with a power adapter. "Included with your Galaxy," reads a Samsung Facebook post that features a picture of a power adapter. Apple notably is no longer providing power adapters or...

iPhone 12 Pro Pre-Orders Already Selling Out With Delivery Times Pushing Into November

Friday October 16, 2020 6:35 am PDT by
Apple today opened pre-orders for the 6.1-inch models of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro through its website and the Apple Store app, and estimated delivery times are already slipping into November for select configurations in the United States. Customers ordering a SIM-free/Pacific Blue/128GB version of the iPhone 12 Pro, for example, are already facing an estimated delivery window of...

HomePod Mini Cable is Non-Detachable, Ends With USB-C Connector for Use With Included 20W Power Adapter

Friday October 16, 2020 12:45 pm PDT by
While not detailed in the tech specs, MacRumors can confirm that Apple's new HomePod mini features a non-detachable power cable that ends with a USB-C connector for use with the 20W power adapter included in the box. With the switch to USB-C, the HomePod mini could potentially be powered by a wider range of devices and peripherals, ranging from MacBooks to USB-C battery packs with enough...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

New Google App Feature Lets You Hum a Song to Search for It

Saturday October 17, 2020 4:05 am PDT by
Google has added a new feature to its Search app that allows you to hum a song that's stuck in your head, and then use the company's machine learning algorithm to try and identify it. In the Google app or using the Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say "what's this song?" or click the "Search a song" button. Then start humming the tune for 10-15 seconds. When you're done, the...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...

Apple Offering Free AirPods With iPhone 11 Purchase in India as Part of Diwali Celebration

Friday October 16, 2020 12:35 pm PDT by
Apple today launched a new Diwali promotion in India that will see the company providing customers with a set of AirPods with the purchase of any iPhone 11 model. The new iPhone 12 models are not part of the promotion. Apple is offering the standard AirPods With Charging Case free with purchase, but customers can choose to upgrade to the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case or the AirPods Pro....

Apple Event to Unveil First Apple Silicon Macs Could Happen on November 17

Friday October 16, 2020 2:24 am PDT by
Apple will hold another digital event on November 17 to announce its first Apple Silicon powered Macs, according to frequent leaker Jon Prosser. Apple has already said that this year it intends to introduce the first Mac powered by an Apple Silicon chip instead of an Intel processor. One thing it hasn't revealed is the date it will be announced. According to Prosser's source, that date is No...

Apple Online Store Down Ahead of iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Pre-Orders

Thursday October 15, 2020 11:15 pm PDT by
Apple's online store is down ahead of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders, which are set to begin at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States. "You're... early," reads the Apple Store message when attempting to visit the U.S. website. "Pre-order begins at 5:00 a.m. PDT. Enjoy the extra sleep." Apple used to do new device pre-orders at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, but since last year, has...

When You Can Pre-Order the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Every Time Zone

Thursday October 15, 2020 10:55 am PDT by
Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro are set to kick off on Friday, October 16 at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time, which is a new launch time that Apple adopted as of last year. Apple is planning to make the new devices available in multiple countries around the world simultaneously, so we've made a guide to let MacRumors readers know when pre-orders will in their country. Pre-orders...