Nvidia considering external graphics solution for laptops. Would you buy?

Nvidia considering external graphics solution for laptops. Would you buy?

Summary: In the same week that it introduced its new switchable graphics mobile platform Optimus, Nvidia revealed that it's mulling an external graphics solution to boost the graphics capabilities of laptops. An Nvidia exec told X-bit Labs that it was a "big opportunity," but that the company hadn't decided if it would take the form of an adapter or a GPU docking station.

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TOPICS: Laptops
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In the same week that it introduced its new switchable graphics mobile platform Optimus, Nvidia revealed that it's mulling an external graphics solution to boost the graphics capabilities of laptops. An Nvidia exec told X-bit Labs that it was a "big opportunity," but that the company hadn't decided if it would take the form of an adapter or a GPU docking station.

If the concept sounds familiar, it may be because AMD/ATI has already cleared this path with an adapter that was released in Europe as the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Graphics Booster. But the product was never released in the U.S., and might have served as a warning sign to its competitor that the concept faces a number of difficulties. Nonetheless, Nvidia seems to think it's just a matter of hitting the right price point with the device for it to succeed.

It is an intriguing possibility for people who mostly keep their laptops plugged into their desktop and only occasionally travel with them, and could be especially attractive to gamers or to those with mobile workstations looking for even more graphics power. But how much would people be willing to spend for that extra oomph. $500? $200? And how big a segment of buyers would Nvidia need to turn a profit on such a solution? Nvidia gave no details on what stage of deployment (if any) its external graphics solution is in, but if a company exec is floating the idea publicly, you'd have to assume it's made it past the drawing board.

Topic: Laptops

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17 comments
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  • Demand

    Working as a support agent for one of the worlds largest PC
    manufacturers, I can tell you that there is the demand for this. Personally,
    the options I currently see are USB 2.0 and are crap for video or gaming.
    USB 3.0 might be better, but nVidia would do themselves better if they
    could pair up with more than one OEM and come up with a standard
    interface that would fit them all, ideally via a docking port on the base of
    the laptop.
    barneytheblueheeler@...
  • RE: Nvidia considering external graphics solution for laptops. Would you buy?

    AMD's concept was called XGP graphics, and I'm not sure why AMD never pursued it further. It stayed at the experimental stage with one manufacturer alone. There used to be a time when laptops had docking stations, where you would find additional ports and video cards inside. I see this as an evolution of that concept. I just hope that Nvidia and AMD don't come up with completely incompatible solutions to the same thing.
    bbbl67
  • Does Nvidia know graphics?

    nt
    D.T.Schmitz
    • Ah.. Dietrich - once again, showing your utter lack of knowledge..

      Of course they do, silly Lintard..
      Wolfie2K3
    • Yes.

      Yes, they do. The entire company is based on it! How could they possibly not know graphics?
      CobraA1
  • RE: Nvidia considering external graphics solution for laptops. Would you buy?

    Build it into the monitor. Put a monitor in the seat backs of the new Boeing. Ta da! Standard set!
    tburzio
  • By the time

    you pay for that additional HW on both the notebook and the docking station with power supply, graphics processor etc. you might be better off just buying a dedicated gaming desktop instead, (or a gaming notebook). Unless properly done, you will also need an external monitor.

    If the Express Card slot were PCI Express X16, it might be more viable, but being only X1 it does not have the bandwidth for graphics. You therefore need a new port/specification. Notebook hard drives are also usually slow. Personally, I don't see it.
    Economister
    • Notebook harddrives aren't slow

      I compared two that were the same size (just one 3.5 and one 2.5) and they were about the same speed.... in fact, the laptop drive was a little FASTER than the desktop drive.
      Lerianis10
      • Shouldn't matter if you have enough RAM.

        Shouldn't matter if you have enough RAM. Ideally, you want most or all of the game in RAM, which is fastest.
        CobraA1
  • RE: Nvidia considering external graphics solution for laptops. Would you buy?

    If it is priced right than I definetly would by it especially if it the external adapter would lend itself to future 3d compatibility. Everyone will be looking to spent less on using existing equipment vs. buying new.
    bgman
    • They already do on most of their desktop cards.

      It lends itself very nicely to future 3D compatibility.

      -A video card already uses 3D natively. It's just forced to flatten it to a 2D image before it sends it to the monitor.

      -nVidia already has a 3D solution for its video cards. You need a compatible 120 Hz display and special glasses to use it, but it already exists.

      http://www.nvidia.com/object/3D_Vision_Main.html

      So it's likely to be possible, you just need to make sure it's compatible with their 3D Vision system.
      CobraA1
  • I'd buy one for sure

    I'd definitely buy one if it cost the same as a video card or slightly higher. The only reason I keep my huge power hungry desktop is to play games now and then. But if I could get away with a laptop and a small external box which can give me the same performance as my desktop PCI card when I need it - great! I'd get one right away and get rid of that huge box under my desk.
    linuxoid
  • What are they thinking?

    The proper solution is upgradeable laptop graphics. I really don't think there is a real market for an external device. At least not a profitable one.
    M.M.Grimes
    • That has already been tried

      However it was never universally implemented by laptop manufacturers, and the cards were never released to the public in any practical way.
      medezark@...
  • Worry about bandwidth

    Nice concept - but I kinda worry about bandwidth. There's not really anything that currently matches a 16 lane PCIe slot. Especially not if we're talking about the 2.0 and 3.0 versions of the protocol.
    CobraA1
  • I don't think this is a great solution

    As for people who buy laptops and don't travel around with them, my question is why? A laptop is a great tool for mobile users. If you only travel with a computer once a year, look into a desktop/netbook solution.

    I have a killer desktop that runs high end games and a lot of high performance design tools. I also have a netbook for the few times I need to travel. It runs the entire MS Office suite which makes it great for presentations and doing some on the go spreadsheets and text editing. I never do high end design work on the road so I don't need the power.

    The netbook is light and travels well. The desktop is fairly inexpensive for the hardware I have in it. I also have an ergonomic keyboard that is comfortable to use and a huge screen. I also have a nice comfortable chair to sit in.

    I guess if a person was doing mobile design work or mobile high end gaming a laptop would be a good solution but most of the high performance laptops I have seen and priced out don't have the performance of my desktop or the mobility of my netbook. The high end laptops also tend to be more expensive than my desktop plus netbook combined.

    Again I guess if you are one of those few road-warriors that absolutely need a high powered machine, it would work for you. But how big a market are we talking about here? Most of the mobile workers I run into barley task their Atom processors. This is not a slight on the road-warriors, it is just an acknowledgment that most of what they do are spreadsheets, text editing, power point, some pdf creation/reading, e-mail, and websurfing. A good netbook does those things and is light and cheap.

    If you need a serious GPU for the road this solution won't work because it says you need a docking station and if you need a serious GPU for home/home office why not get one built in?
    mr1972
  • I'd buy

    instant laptop upgrade
    Prime Waverider