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04-08-2016

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P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 15:05 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I was wondering if the Thinkpad P50 will support external  graphics cards via Thunderbolt 3. One product that is available for preorder right now ist the Razer Core which would allow to hook up any GPU with PCIe 3.0 4x speed (but there are several other TB3 egpu enclosures anounced). Razer confirmed that the Core will no prevent other manufacturers from using it but that they might need to do some work on bios and software.

 

I'm a little worried that the P50 might whitelist only some divices over TB3 (as we have seen before with some of the "normal" PCIe slots).

 

Has anybody evidence that it will (not) work, or even has a setup like this currently working? A response, if something like this will be supported, from Lenovo staff would be greatly appreciated.

 

Why would you want this?

Well, the P50 has a formfactor that is still portable and the M1000M / M2000M is powerful enough for work on the go and for some presentations. But for the daily work at my desk I would like to have a little more gpu power. The convenience of having both with one machine is that it eliminates the need to synchronize my softwaresetup and projects between a portable machine and a workstation desktop pc.

It also seems like I'm not the only one with a demand like this. If you search for Thinkpad egpu solutions in various forums, you will find several reports of people that added a egpu to their Thinkpad W-Series notebooks. The problem with the existing solutions is the rather limited bandwith via express card and the software "hacks" to get it working.

 

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41 Posts

03-09-2016

United States

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Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 17:12 PM

I hardly think Lenovo would allow this. The best hope would be Lenovo provides an official external GPU solution, at a premium price tag of course.

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39 Posts

03-04-2016

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Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 20:25 PM

It's hard to imagine a graphics card running better than the M2000m when limited to 40gbps bandwidth when the M2000m has an 16 lanes dedicated to it for 126gbps bandwidth. I could see a sound card or DSP, but video card seems like a stretch, depending on the use case I suppose.

(Not that the M2000m probably even comes near saturating it)

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04-08-2016

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Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 21:47 PM

Thanks to both of you for your thought on this topic.

 

@tpmeredith1 As you said the bandwith might be a limiting factor in some applications. But this is definitly not true in every scenario. I found some benchmarks using a gtx 980 with different bandwidths and the performance hit from pcie3 16x to 4x ist only around five percent. Note however, that the numbers I'm refering to are benchmarks of games and with the use of a (quit powerful) geforce, not a quadro card. I'm far from an expert in this field, but I think CAD work is at least kind of comparable to this. And if you use the gpu for cuda computing you might be fine aswell.

 

@dunjiadashen: The reason why I have hope that lenovo could allow this is that they have already done something like this in the past (source). For the Thinkpad W540 they worked together with Magma to support a Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis (amongst others for video cards, as mentioned in the linked article). The reason why I mentioned the Razer Core in my initial post is because Lenovo has already worked together with Razer (however in the totally different field of gaming desktop PC's), so the relationship of both companies is probably quiet good.

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03-09-2016

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  • Message 5 of 22

Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 22:49 PM

I read the news on Lenovo's partnership with RAZOR on the IdeaPad Y900 project. In my opinion, if you are looking for a capable GPU, why not choose P70 configued with M5000M? It offers the best mobile graphics solution for professional use and is also enough (relatively) for most gaming demands.

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04-08-2016

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Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-08, 23:14 PM

Thanks for pointing me to the Y900 project, nice to see another collaboration.

 

The reason why I would prefer the P50+egpu over the P70 is portability (I don't really need the additional GPU power on the go). But if there will be no eGPU solution for the P50 I might bite the bullet and get the P70 (which is certaily also a good machine). Another advantage of the eGPU is upgradability (although the performance of a P70 should be enough for a few years :smileyhappy:).

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121 Posts

02-01-2016

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  • Message 7 of 22

Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-09, 1:21 AM

I think ThinkPad P50 does everything except VR.  I love to have an external GPU if it can add VR to P50 at home. From my view it should be possible.  because it just have to render the output to the VR headset.  Can we have that please?

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39 Posts

03-04-2016

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  • Message 8 of 22

Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-09, 1:48 AM

wrote:

Thanks to both of you for your thought on this topic.

 

@ As you said the bandwith might be a limiting factor in some applications. But this is definitly not true in every scenario. I found some benchmarks using a gtx 980 with different bandwidths and the performance hit from pcie3 16x to 4x ist only around five percent. Note however, that the numbers I'm refering to are benchmarks of games and with the use of a (quit powerful) geforce, not a quadro card. I'm far from an expert in this field, but I think CAD work is at least kind of comparable to this. And if you use the gpu for cuda computing you might be fine aswell.

 

@: The reason why I have hope that lenovo could allow this is that they have already done something like this in the past (source). For the Thinkpad W540 they worked together with Magma to support a Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis (amongst others for video cards, as mentioned in the linked article). The reason why I mentioned the Razer Core in my initial post is because Lenovo has already worked together with Razer (however in the totally different field of gaming desktop PC's), so the relationship of both companies is probably quiet good.


I'd really say depends on your use case. Again I'd say it depends on what benchmarks but I'd be skeptical that dropping a single(not SLI) 980 dropped a significant amount of benchmarks by only 5%, but I know most cards don't fully saturate a 3.0 16x lane. Even then, two DP 4k monitors saturate 4k, just seems hard to imagine. 

I'm with others, for the cost/effort to do buy a specialized setup to do this with, your better off buying a workstation or a P70 with M5000M, and I'd suspect you'd get a lot more gains. 

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125 Posts

11-16-2015

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  • Message 9 of 22

Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-04-09, 12:14 PM

If you're using the GPU for parrellel processing instead of video, you don't care much about the bandwith.

 

The advantage of the eGPU is that you can upgrade the GPU later. Even with the MXM upgrades, they might not make compatible upgrades after a few years.

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11 Posts

01-18-2016

Czech Republic

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  • Message 10 of 22

Re: P50 external GPU support via Thunderbolt 3?

2016-06-14, 7:49 AM

Any news? Could I used Thinkpad P50 with external GPU through Thunderbolt ? Thank you.

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