Some years ago the wave of rumors swept into the Internet that is conducted prosecution of external specification of PCI Express bus. After its appearance they predicted beginning of production of external videocards. If these predictions came true, then besides very massive "small boxes"-computer corps next to it sometimes would be close another, but already with a videocard. Its sizes depended on speed of accelerating and their amount inwardly.
In general all of it happened in one or another degree. But the real embodiment was got by the latest development of AMD, that adopted ATI XGP technology. More precisely not simply real, but also simultaneously mass, which on an idea will be accessible to all. And it is already accessible. This material serves as confirmation. Further speech will go about the early attempts of external realization PCI Express and about the real product on its basis - Fujitsu Siemens AMILO GraphicBooster.
External PCI Express
Lately all computer interfaces suddenly rushed in a friendly manner "outside". eSATA can serve a good example, which is practically a complete copy SerialATA, just in external implementation. Now time came for PCI Express. Even not now, but two years ago. PCI-SIG organization in February, 2007, that is engaged in development and standardization of PCI Express bus, developed specifications of PCI Express External Cabling.
Certainly, such long name did not get accustomed. Literally a few variants of reductions appeared at once: External PCI Express, External PCIe, Cabled PCI Express and all in such manner. There was nothing revolutionary in the technology. The presented documents only described what cables and connectors are necessary to use for providing of carrying capacity for ports of x1, x4, x8 and x16 lanes. Thus a standard until now expressly does not determine maximal length of wire.
As to speed of data transmission there was actual standard PCI Express version 1.1. So one lane provided speed of 250 MB/s. PCI-E 2.0 increases this value twice. However PCI-SIG did not do any additional announcements, though theoretically problems of transition to the second and even the future third version should not be.
What about manufacturers? Nothing. Specifications of external PCI Express have been published but there are no mass products till now. Probably the companies have correctly judged that no one does not desire additional boxes on a desktop. Unless if it is not a question of laptops.
With laptops there was in general an interesting story. As it is known, mass distribution of ExpressCard interface in which PCI Express bus used as the basis. Just of this last property some companies also have taken an advantage. More of all have caused a stir Magma company with the products ExpressBox and ExpressBox Pro.
Magma ExpressBox и ExpressBox Pro
Magma has not offered anything new. It has made a special aluminum case in which the most usual PCI Express x16 slot is allocated. Distinctions between ExpressBox and ExpressBox Pro consist only in bigger size of the last box.
Magma ExpressBox connection to a notebook
The box is connected to an adapter. The adapter is inserted into notebook ExpressCard slot, or in PCI Express slot of the usual desktop computer. Both variants of an adapter go in a delivery package. Thus it is theoretically possible to connect any expansion card PCI Express to the transportable or desktop computer. But here there are some limitations. First of all it is a transfer rate — it does not exceed 250 MB/s, that is corresponds to standard PCI-E x1 version 1.1. For gigabit ethernet card it is quite enough, but it not enough for 3D-cards. And the powerful videocard will not manage to be installed for two reasons: ExpressBox it is capable to provide no more than 55 W of energy that for modern videocards not enough; and modern top accelerators have double-slot system of cooling which can not to be placed in ExpressBox.
Something similar MSI company also released. Presumably its product carried commercial name Luxium. Its box fulfilled from plastic and bearing a strong resemblance radio of the middle of the 20th century, intended basically for videocards, and to connect it was planned to notebooks through ExpressCard.
MSI Luxium plugs
At the same time on the back panel there are the power plug, the PCI Express plug, two USB ports, RJ-45 and the complete set of audio outputs and inputs for connection audio system class 7.1.
Installed videocard in MSI Luxium
As we have understood, the most usual videocard was installed inside. Certainly, all the accompanying limitations of a transfer rate no more than 250 MB/s are presented. We are assured that it is possible to find some more products like that are described above. But unfortunately does not on sale. The similar exclusive has definitely arrived on the market in rather limited quantity and even if it is accessible to acquisition, under the order. But ATI XGP technology should become rather mass product.