Will new Sony Vaio Z laptop usher in new era of Light Peak-based external graphics cards?
Somewhat lost in all the blog posts about how much Sony's latest Vaio Z ultraportable, available in the UK, costs, is the laptop's optional docking station, which includes an AMD Radeon HD 6650M graphics card that works with the notebook through Intel's Light Peak connection.
For those who don't know, Light Peak is the new connectivity standard that transfers data at a blazing 10Gbps, and is thus far best known under the Thunderbolt brand name thanks to Apple's inclusion of the technology on its new MacBook Pros and iMacs. Because it can work as a PCI Express interface, Thunderbolt has been talked about as a possible breakthrough for connecting external graphics cards to laptops. Interestingly, Nvidia mentioned this possibility way back in early 2010, but it's AMD that is the card of choice for the new Sony Vaio Z. That's even more surprising, given AMD's wariness of the technology.
External graphics solutions for notebooks have fizzled in the past, like Asus' XG Station, for obvious reasons: They're not convenient to schlep around with you when you're on the go, and laptop graphics have improved enough to satisfy many gamers. But hope has been held out that an ideal solution would be developed to bring desktop graphics to notebooks, and Light Peak/Thunderbolt could be the breakthrough people have been looking for, even if you're still saddled with a docking station configuration like the Vaio Z will have.
Few Thunderbolt products have been announced or released thus far, however, so it's too early to tell if any new external graphics card solution would also wind up on the scrap heap. What do you think? Would Thunderbolt-based external graphics cards for laptops be a success? Let us know in the Comments section.