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
158 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
158 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
158 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
158 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
158 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
158 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)

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