AMD today announces new technology designed for external GPUs.
The XConnect is simply a new way of connecting external GPUs to computers. It doesn’t work with all graphics cards, and there are few things to consider before trying it. AMD has been working on XConnect for the past few years, but only with the introduction of Thunderbolt 3, the necessary bandwidth was finally available. Thunderbolts 3 has a bandwidth of 40 Gbit/s, from which 32 Gbit/s are used for XConnect, this equals to the speed of PCI-Express 3.0 x4 connector.
VALIDATED THUNDERBOLT ™ 3 SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
- Radeon Software 16.2.2 (or later)
- 1x Thunderbolt ™ port 3
- 40Gbps Thunderbolt ™ cable 3
- Windows 10 build 10586 (or later)
- System BIOS ACPI extensions for Thunderbolt ™ eGFX (check with vendor)
- Thunderbolt ™ firmware (NVM) v.16 (or higher)
- Pass Thunderbolt ™ certification
To use this technology Thunderbolt 3 connector is required, which is often installed in the form of USB Type-C connector in latest notebooks. Necessary display drivers are also required (Crimson 16.2.2 or later), and drivers for Thunderbolt itself, which are currently only available for Windows 10 build 10586 (Win 8.1 and Win 7 should receive it later).
Not all graphics cards are supported, but judging from the official list, anything earlier than Hawaii-based model will work: R9 285, R9 290(X), R9 380(X), R9 390(X), R9 Fury (X) and R9 Nano.
AMD has partnered up with Razer to offer first external GPU enclosure called Razer Core.
Full presentation and press release follow.
AMD Revolutionizes External GPUs for Notebooks With AMD XConnect(TM) Technology in Collaboration With Intel and Razer
Razer Introduces the Razer Blade Stealth Notebook Enabled With AMD XConnect™ Technology, and the Razer Core Graphics Enclosure, Offering a Plug-and-Play Solution for External GPUs Over Thunderbolt™ 3
SUNNYVALE, CA — (Marketwired) — 03/10/16 — AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) today announced AMD XConnect™ technology, making it easier than ever to pair a powerful external Radeon™ graphics card with a compatible notebook or 2-in-1 using Thunderbolt™ 3. AMD XConnect™ technology is a groundbreaking new feature of Radeon Software Crimson Edition 126.96.36.199
Traditionally, PC gamers have been faced with the problem of choosing between gaming notebooks, sacrificing portability for gaming performance, or ultrathin notebooks, sacrificing gaming performance for portability. A lightweight notebook or 2-in-1 with Thunderbolt 3 that is compatible with AMD XConnect™ technology brings the best of both worlds to life — conveniently lightweight on its own, but as needed, can easily tap into serious framerates and image quality of a gaming notebook with a powerful external GPU. The connection between the external GPU enclosure configured with Radeon™ R9 300 Series graphics is made possible over Intel Thunderbolt™ 3, and can be connected or disconnected at any time, a first for external GPUs.
“AMD XConnect™ technology is representative of the Radeon Technologies Group’s on-going commitment to gamers. With the introduction of our user-friendly plug-and-play external GPU solution, gamers no longer need to sacrifice portability for powerful performance in notebook gaming,” said Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD. “As innovators paving the way with an ingenious external GPU solution for notebooks, we look forward to creating a thriving ecosystem of notebooks enabled with AMD XConnect™ technology in collaboration with leading manufacturers.”
AMD is also pleased to reveal that there is a notebook available today that can unlock the potential of AMD XConnect™ technology, brought to you in a historic collaboration with the Intel Thunderbolt™ group and Razer: The Razer Blade Stealth, a brand new ultrathin notebook compatible with AMD XConnect™ technology, and the Razer Core, an external GPU enclosure that connects to the Razer Blade Stealth notebook via Thunderbolt™ 3. When the Razer Core is equipped with a Radeon™ R9 300 Series GPU, gamers can experience desktop-like gaming performance in a convenient plug-and-play solution on a Stealth running an AMD XConnect compatible driver. Configuring the Razer Core with a Radeon™ R9 300 Series GPUs even allows gamers to play on the Blade Stealth’s high-resolution IGZO screen, or connect to an external AMD FreeSync™-enabled monitor for a breathtakingly smooth gaming experience.
“The Razer Blade Stealth was developed as the ultimate Ultrabook™ for work on-the-go, additionally capable of transforming into a desktop gaming environment when connected to Razer Core, thanks in part to remarkable contributions from AMD and Intel,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer CEO and cofounder. “The collaboration and development between Razer and AMD for users with Radeon R9 300 Series graphics in the Razer Core helped us realize the world’s first Thunderbolt 3 plug-and-play external graphics solution. A single Thunderbolt 3 connection now provides power and data between the Blade Stealth and Core, and other peripherals can connect to the Razer Core’s USB ports to provide a desktop-class gaming experience.”
“Thunderbolt™ 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB-C at speeds up to 40Gb/s, creating one compact port that does it all,” said Jason Ziller, Director of Thunderbolt Marketing,Intel. “Thanks to technical collaboration with the Radeon Technologies group at AMD, desktop Radeon™ graphics cards are now validated for use with Thunderbolt™ 3. AMD’s new XConnect™ technology brings effortless plug-and-play support and a convenient management interface to notebooks and 2-in-1s with the Thunderbolt™ 3 external graphics solution configured with a powerful Radeon™ R9 300 Series GPU.”
AMD plans to expand the list of Radeon™ GPUs that can support AMD XConnect™ technology, which will enable gamers to upgrade their enclosures beyond the Radeon™ R9 300 Series.2 For a list of compatible systems, GPUs and enclosures for AMD XConnect™ technology, please visit www.amd.com/xconnect.