LucidLogix, a designer of multi-GPU graphics processing technologies, is working on an external dock for graphics cards with Thunderbolt interface and supporting software. Currently the company already has the first prototype that it demonstrated at Intel Developer Forum behind closed doors.
The external Thunderbolt dock for graphics cards developed by Lucid is designed to significantly improve performance of laptops that use graphics solutions integrated into microprocessors. The Thunderbolt dock requires external power supply unit and is currently powered by AMD Radeon HD 6700-series graphics chip. Eventually, the Thunderbolt docks should be able to employ more potent graphics solutions.
According to LaptopMag, graphics performance of an ultra-portable notebook powered by Intel Core i-series "Ivy Bridge" chip not only got several times higher once external graphics solution was plugged in, but the operating system did not crash during activation and deactivation of the external Thunderbolt graphics dock thanks to Lucid VirtuMVP software.
Lucid Logix claims that the technology should be compatible with current-generation ultrabooks and notebooks that have Thunderbolt connector. Unfortunately, Lucid’s external Thunderbolt graphics technology is still under development with no solid release date and no official partners on board.
Even though it is clear that external graphics cards have a lot of potential as a lot of people want to play modern video games on their ultra-portable PCs on external displays that support high-resolutions, Thunderbolt as it is now may not be the most efficient technology to connect graphics cards to notebooks. Current version of Thunderbolt only supports 10Gb/s bidirectional bandwidth (bidirectional 1.25GB/s), whereas modern high-end graphics cards require much higher transfer speeds provided by PCI Express 2.0 x16 (8GB/s) or even PCI Express 3.0 x16 (12.8GB/s) slots.