ATI XGP. Overview external graphics card for laptop
21:48, 1 February 2009
a Couple of years ago on the Internet, a wave of rumors that work on external PCI Express bus spec. After her appearance predicted start of production of external graphics cards. If these predictions come true, in addition to very massive «boxes»-the computer next to her sometimes start to adjoin one another, but with the video card. Its dimensions are directly would depend on the speed of the accelerator and the number inside.
in General, strictly speaking it it all happened in one degree or another. But reality got the latest development of AMD called ATI XGP. Rather than just real, but at the same time mass, which, in theory, be available to all. And it is already available. What confirms this material. Next we will talk about the early attempts of external implementation of PCI Express and on the actual product based on it — Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster.
External PCI Express
recently all computer interfaces all together rushed «out». A good example would be eSATA. which is almost a complete copy SerialATA, just in the external execution. Now it’s time to PCI Express. Even now, two years ago. In February 2007, PCI-SIG, which is engaged in the development and standardization of PCI Express, released the PCI Express External Cabling.
of Course, such a long name did not stick. Almost immediately appeared a few options abbreviations: External PCI Express, External PCIe, Cabled PCI Express and all in the same spirit. Nothing revolutionary in the technology was not. Submitted documents only describe what cables and connectors should be used to provide bandwidth ports x1, x4, x8 and x16. While the standard is still not clearly specifies the maximum length of the wire.
as for the speed of data transmission, at the time was relevant to the PCI Express version 1.1. So on one line had a speed of 250 MB/s PCI-E 2.0 increases this value by half. However, no further announcements PCI-SIG did, although in theory the problems of transition to a second and even a future third version shouldn’t be.
What manufacturers? And anything. Specifications external PCI Express was released, but no mass products is still there. Presumably the company correctly decided that the extra boxes on the desktop, no one really does not wish to see. Except that if we are not talking about laptops.
With laptops left at all an interesting story. As you know, about three years ago began the mass distribution of the ExpressCard interface, which is based on the same PCI Express. Just this last property and took advantage of some companies. More all have different Magma with their products ExpressBox and ExpressBox Pro.
Magma ExpressBox and ExpressBox Pro
Nothing sverhrealnomu company Magma is not suggested. She made a special aluminum case, inside which is located the usual PCI Express slot size equal to the PCI Express x16 slot. Differences between ExpressBox and ExpressBox Pro are only more recent boxes.
Connection Magma ExpressBox to laptop
After using a special cable, unfortunately it is unknown which specific development box is connected to the adapter. The adapter is inserted into the ExpressCard slot of a laptop, or in the PCI Express slot of a typical desktop computer. Both versions of the adapter are supplied.
So theoretically you can connect any expansion card PCI Express to your mobile or desktop computer. But there are a few limitations. First and foremost is the speed of data transfer, it does not exceed 250 MB/s, that is, corresponds to the standard PCI-E x1 version 1.1. For Gigabit network card that is enough, but for a high-performance three-dimensional graphics accelerator — no. Yes and powerful graphics card may not be set yet for two reasons: ExpressBox able to provide not more than 55 watts of power, which for modern graphics cards are not always enough; and modern flagship accelerators have a dual-slot cooling system, which does not fit in the case ExpressBox.
Box MSI Luxium for expansion cards PCI Express
something similar released and MSI. Presumably it wore the commercial name Luxium. Her box is made of plastic and much like radio in the mid-twentieth century, were intended mainly for video cards and connect it planned to laptop via ExpressCard.
external Connectors PCI-E Boxing MSI Luxium
however, on the back of the box, except for the power connector and connector cable PCI Express, removed the two USB ports, RJ-45 and a full set of audio inputs and outputs to connect the speaker system class 7.1.
the Installed graphics card MSI Luxium
Inside, as we understood, were established in the most common graphics card. Of course, with all the attendant limitations in the data transfer rate is not more than 250 MB/s On energy constraints we do not know, but there is unlikely to be allowed to install something from the flagship accelerator.
ASUS XG Station
I Think that’s all? There it was! In early 2007 distinguished from ASUS, announced a product called the XG Station. The design of the device was much more futuristic than retro-nostalgia MSI. Inside ASUS offered to install the video card’s own production of ASUS EN7900GS based on NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS. In addition to the advanced graphics features of XG Station is possible to adjust the sound volume, connect speakers or headphones, and the front panel was located information screen. At the last show the current volume level, the current FPS, the frequency of the graphics chip and the fan speed of the video card. Moreover, XG Station even support overclocking! Connect it to your laptop through an ExpressCard interface.
We are sure that if you want you can find several products like those described above. But, unfortunately, not for sale. This exclusive definitely came on the market in very limited quantities and even if available for purchase under the order. But really mass product should be technology ATI XGP.
In mid-2008 the company AMD has unveiled a new mobile platform Puma. Within its framework were presented a new family of processors, among which stood out the flagship Turion 64 X2 Ultra series ZM, and a new mobile chipset AMD M780G with embedded graphics ATI Radeon HD 3200.
it is Unlikely for someone will be a revelation that the plan «clean» performance chips AMD slower than their direct competitors from Intel. This applies to both mobile and desktop solutions. So AMD Puma became more pressure on the graphics capabilities of the platform. The latter include not only the fastest to date, integrated graphics, but also allows you to use it together with any discrete graphics card family Mobility Radeon HD 3000. This technology is called HybridGraphics.
Description ATI XGP
a Second graphics new Puma was that you could connect an external graphics card. This technology called ATI XGP (eXternal Graphics Platform). The first rumors about her design appeared in 2007. The project, codenamed Lasso had to use a regular video card, but in the external execution. To the computer it was connected would be using two cables, which required first version of the specification external PCI Express.
Connector that is designed JAE specifically for ATI XGP
eventually the project was scrapped. Now obviously, the company decided to abandon the original PCI-SIG. In particular the suggestion wired connection. After all, if you use it for laptop, then plug was quite large, and the price is not very organized. So AMD has addressed for the help to the company JAE (Japan Aviation Electronics Industry), which specializes in the production of a wide range of different connectors, including for the transfer of large amounts of data with high speed.
In an official document describing the technology ATI XGP, AMD even gave a comparison of dimensions of the new connector in comparison with those offered by PCI-SIG:
In General connector JAE turned out to be smaller and cheaper. Well, very commendable. In addition, as you can see, the original Cabled PCI Express supports interface specification version 1.1, whereas AMD immediately focused on version 2.0. In addition to twice as high speed data transfer it supports hot plug and unplug devices. That is, the ATI XGP can be connected and disconnected while the computer is enabled.
ATI XGP allows you to connect two monitors
the ATI XGP additionally supports the USB bus. So external graphics card definitely will be equipped with a pair of such connectors, and is able to provide a current up to 500 mA, which allows you to connect external hard drives, optical drives and other power-consuming devices, and not just a keyboard and mouse. As for video, it supports DVI-I, HDMI and optional DisplayPort. The number of connectors on the box itself accelerator is unlikely to exceed two pieces, because this is the limit of the video card, which is equipped with two chips due. However, if you set the accelerator with two GPUs (for example, ATI Mobilitу Radeon HD 3850/3870 X2), then theoretically you can use them side by side — the maximum number of output will increase to four.
Mode Cross Display
Have an ATI XGP also the mode Cross Display that can display a picture on the laptop screen. But, looking ahead, we note that while he has not been implemented. Presumably this omission software only and rests on the shoulders of the developers of the drivers.
however, a new connector JAE is not able to provide enough for the video card, amount of electricity. Probably due to this, it managed to decrease compared with the original standard Cabled PCI Express. For this reason, external accelerators ATI XGP will be supplied with a separate power supply, and work offline is not capable of. Note that the power management is done entirely with computer — no buttons on the box graphics design is not provided. The accelerator will be turned off if not connected to the laptop, or if the latter is in sleep or off state.
as for CrossFireX technology, it is only supported in the framework of one «box». Schematically AMD it depicts as follows:
Schema configuration module ATI XGP
In the first case, you will use only one GPU, and it also assumes an optional USB hub. The second option is more cumbersome, but the number of GPU may be equal to two, and to a USB hub can be connected USB drive, in particular a hard disk. Synchronous operation of both GPU will perform a special chip PCI-E Switch, and communication will be through a separate bus CrossFire. All this is quite reminiscent of the logic operation dual-chip graphics cards AMD Radeon HD 3870 X2, HD 4850 X2 and HD 4870 X2. But collaboration ATI XGP together with the integrated graphics card is not yet available. It is possible that in one of the next generations of technologies this feature will be added.
so far, ATI XGP involves the installation of accelerators class ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870 cheaper option and Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2 more expensive. Communicate with laptops they will be through an interface PCI Express x8 2.0. But if necessary, you can install the connector PCI Express x16 interface.
Actually, that’s all. You can proceed to the real products.
Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
so, the idea of ATI XGP is that laptop would be able to replace a desktop computer. Connecting to laptop external video card, keyboard, mouse, and monitor, you will get excellent ergonomics PC with a miniature portable housing. And the closest to this concept today came Fujitsu Siemens Computers.
When he was presented platform AMD Puma Japanese-German firm was one of the first announced plans to release a product based on the ATI XGP. And that quite nicely, these plans were to come true, though not immediately. The actual product was available only towards the end of 2008. In December even passed his presentation in Moscow, held in conjunction with AMD. Well, in the beginning of this year the boxes with the ATI XGP inside began to supply distributors.
Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650
note, however, that the connector from the Japanese JAE only got one laptop — AMILO Sa 3650. This model is nothing extraordinary (except support ATI XGP) is not allocated, as well as ordinary to call it impossible. This 13.3-inch mobile computer from mid range priced from 40,000 rubles and up, depending on configuration. We just had to deal with a version for 40,000 rubles, whose configuration is as follows:
Right face Fujisu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650
Touch buttons Fujisu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650
Another of the not quite normal, you can mention the optical drive with a slot-loading, like the Apple laptop. This is also the image element, which makes it impossible to use discs with diameter of 8 cm and the eject function is assigned to the sensor, which, in our opinion somewhat impractical.
Back face Fujisu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650
Mention another feature Sa 3650 instead of already obsolete connector D-SUB Fujitsu Siemens has installed more than relevant today DVI-I, for her honor and praise.
Left face Fujisu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650
Well, the proverbial external PCI Express x8 is not the left side of the laptop.
Now on to the box GraphicBooster. Today, it is still available along with the laptop. Moreover, a laptop is more powerful configuration than we had. In particular we are talking about a faster processor ZM-86 2.4 GHz), 4 GB memory, hard disk 320 GB. The total price of the set increases to 60,000 rubles. If you try to eliminate the difference in the configurations, then the cost of one GraphicBooster we would be assessed in the amount 12-14 thousand.
Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
Designed GraphicBooster in the style of the last generation laptops Fujitsu Siemens AMILO series. Only that last more acute angles, whereas the GraphicBooster they are smoothly rounded.
Front face Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
the front face of the box external graphics card issued to the name of the mobile series, the manufacturer’s name and label ATI XGP. A little to the right and above the last placed two blue LEDs. The first illuminates when GraphicBooster is enabled, and the second when the video card is connected to the laptop.
Back face Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
the Back cover is given under the connectors. There are DVI-I, HDMI, and power connector. Right middle detected «dimple» Kensington Lock.
Right face Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
on the Right is a PCI Express x8 slot and two USB port.
Left face Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
Well, on the left was taken a massive block the ventilation holes through which blown air.
the Bottom Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
the air Intake is through the bottom. Note that during operation GraphicBooster is heated is not very much, even after about an hour of testing in three-dimensional applications.
Internal device Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
Out of interest we opened the top cover external graphics card. It has been found chip, occupying almost the entire area of the box. In the center you can see the fan.
Cable for ATI XGP
cable Length for GraphicBooster can reach two meters, but in our case it was not longer than 40 cm
Connector ATI XGP
the Connector width slightly greater than 4 cm, and the height does not exceed 0.6, see connector is inserted simply and with a light click.
Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650 with connected GraphicBooster
Regarding the laptop box GraphicBooster occupies relatively little space. Cable length is enough to push it slightly away from the mobile computer, but to remove from the table it will not work. Also will not be able to push the video card right up — will not allow massive connectors. Yes and even if allowed to do this is not worth it — Sa 3650 left, where it is connected GraphicBooster, are the vents.
power supply for Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster
Along with the external graphics card Fujitsu Siemens delivers two thick Talmud pages 300 each, called «», and also quite massive power supply 90 watt (20 V; 4.5 (a). You don’t think GraphicBooster is not so complex that it requires a lot of documentation — it just translated into two dozen languages, among which we were able to find and Russian. For each language given not more than 10-15 pages. What about the power supply, the same is equipped with himself notebook Sa 3650.
Above we wrote that GraphicBooster supports hot plugging and deactivation. But, interestingly, the documentation Fujitsu Siemens recommends that you do not disable the external video card when the mobile computer is running. But the driver of a different opinion:
Warning drivers about hot off Fujitsu Siemens GraphicBooster
In principle, nothing terrible will happen only if you don’t take care of closing the Windows application, then they just disappear. As far as the «Safely remove hardware»it is as if you were off normal flash:
Safely remove Fujitsu Siemens GraphicBooster
as for the ATI driver Catalyst. for testing, we installed the latest at the time working on new material version 8.12. When you first connect GraphicBooster the screen blinked, and then, on the information tab in the Catalyst Control Center has announced data about new graphics card.
Information about GraphicBooster in Catalyst Control Center
unfortunately, Catalyst 8.12 support Cross Display that can display an image with GraphicBooster on the laptop screen. Catalyst Control Center showed the ability to connect four monitors, but to switch to any of them, you would need to connect an external screen. The newer Catalyst 9.1 changes in this regard has not occurred.
Manage settings screens in the Catalyst Control Center
Now let’s deal with the characteristics established in the GraphicBooster video card. According to the system there is the accelerator ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870. Its principal characteristics are as follows:
Well, GPU-Z showed us the following information:
Information about ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870 installed in the GraphicBooster
As you can see, the core frequency of the video card in the GraphicBooster reduced by 10 MHz relative to par, but the memory is running at 150 (300) MHz faster than ATI recommends. Well, very commendable. The amount of RAM is 512 MB. In addition, the accelerator is equipped with a full set of sensors, the data from which GPU-Z reads without any problems:
Data from sensors GraphicBooster
Having dealt with iron and Softway component Fujitsu Siemens GraphicBooster proceed directly to the test results.
Laptops «normal» version ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3850/3870 was released units, so to find such we failed. In this regard, to compare the performance GraphicBooster we will be with the most similar characteristics and capabilities of mobile computers. In our test involved the following models:
- Acer Aspire 8930G;
- Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Xa 3530.
For clarity, we will contact their configuration in a single table:
Before proceeding to the test results note that the AMD Turion 64 provide a slightly lower level of performance than the Intel Core 2 Duo. Besides, some games are better optimized for NVIDIA graphics accelerators, in particular the infamous Quake 4 and Doom 3. So despite all the outstanding characteristics of the GraphicBooster he will be able to demonstrate superior to the other speed is not everywhere.
we’ll Start with the most simple tests: graphics benchmarks from PCMark 2005 and PCMark Vantage.
In PCMark 2005 GraphicBooster just an excellent result. He was faster than its competitors and a half to two times. But a more recent test of the PCMark Vantage was unable to take advantage of ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870, thereby bringing the accelerators from NVIDIA forward. However, we believe this benchmark is set and the processor speed. For a laptop Fujitsu Siemens AMILI Xa 3530, based on a slightly faster chip, but with graphics on the lower level, behind GraphicBooster very slightly.
With DirectX 7/8 today cope better NVIDIA card, which clearly shows the test 3DMark 2001. However, there is a fairly large value of the processor, so laptops based on the Intel chips were ahead here.
But with the latest versions of DirectX GPU ATI have done much more efficiently. In 3DMark 2006, especially in the test for Shader Model 3.0, ahead of all was GraphicBooster.
Game engine Doom 3 better manifests itself with NVIDIA, so GraphicBooster was slightly behind. Note that the notebook FSC AMILO Xa 3530 even slower accelerator class Mobility Radeon HD 3650 showed almost twice as worse result than the main part of this review.
In Half-Life 2, we used three demo. The first (demo 1) more load on the processor, the second processor and graphics card, the third card. As you can see, the first two superiority GraphicBooster quite insignificant. But in the third demo video he shows the performance by almost 30% higher and this despite the slower CPU installed in the notebook FSC AMILO Sa 3650.
today, ATI XGP is the only full three-dimensional accelerator in the external execution. No manufacturer of graphics cards and motherboards have yet to realize the potential of the external PCI Express, but AMD decided to go their own way, focusing its products mainly in the mobile segment.
I Must say that the idea of the relatively low speed of the laptop is a good solution for games managed. If the technology will get a lot of support, then the gradual replacement of desktop computers mobile will only accelerate.
it is a Pity that today the ATI XGP is still a bit unfinished product. In particular we are talking about the support of the Cross Display. Realize it is vital because, when buying a laptop with an external graphics card usually do not have plans to purchase another external monitor. Yes and the last to carry no one will, then how to capture the business or in the village a small box with a card you can easily.
we Believe that the next stage of development technologies ATI XGP will support HybridGraphics. That is, the external accelerator will work in conjunction with an integrated chipset graphics on the formation of one-dimensional scenes. Well, in the «brutal» option external video card (possibly with two GPU) will work in CrossFireX mode together with a discrete graphics card of the laptop and the built in chipset core. In principle CrossFireX technology allows this flexibility. So it remains only for programmers.
currently the only laptop Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Sa 3650 and external graphics card Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster, then this kit might be a good alternative productive and bulky 17-inch laptop. Sa 3650 is quite compact and is relatively few, well, a flick of the wrist you can turn it into a gaming laptop very small size.
article Summary: In mid-2008 the company AMD has unveiled a new mobile platform Puma. Among its many innovations was listed technology ATI XGP, which allowed to connect to the laptops have an external graphics card. By the end of 2008 the first products based on it began to appear in retail stores. In particular distinguished Fujitsu Siemens Computers, releasing the laptop AMILO Sa 3650, to which you can connect an external accelerator AMILO GraphicBooster. Both of these products have been in our hands and we are pleased to present their review, combined with a detailed description of ATI XGP. amd,fujitsu,video cards,laptops fujitsu siemens