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The ASUS XG Station is connected via a dongle to the notebook ExpressCard interface
ASUS introduces the world's first external graphics card for notebook users

ASUS today introduced a dedicated external graphics card for laptops -- the XG Station. The XG Station is an external graphics card that allows laptop users to enjoy high end graphics performance while plugged in. As the XG Station is an external graphics it can be unplugged when portability is needed.

The XG Station connects to any notebook’s ExpressCard slot and provides a PCI Express x16 slot for graphics cards. Since ASUS has opted to equip the XG Station with a standard PCI Express x16 slot, the station can be equipped with any PCI Express based graphics card: AMD, NVIDIA or even Matrox. ASUS launched the default XG Station with an NVIDIA 7900GS powered graphics card.

The XG Station is powered externally.  A separate power brick plugs directly into the adaptor.

An integrated LCD display and control also grace the XG Station. The display is customizable and can display information such as frame rate, fan speed, GPU temperature and more while the control knob can change various settings of the XG Station such as the core and memory clocks.

Expect ASUS to release the XG Station in Q2'07 this year. Pricing of the XG Station is unknown at the moment.

The XG Station adaptor only interfaces with ExpressCard interfaces at the moment, but will work with with PCIe ExpressCard interfaces installed in a desktop PC.

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By Snipester on 1/7/2007 1:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
The Expresscard interface IS a direct link to either PCIE bus or USB. The trick is, they built in support for both. For card readers that use the expresscard slot, or TV tuners, they are most likely USB based since it is easy to develop for and has been out for a long time. For PCIE part, I'm 90% sure only a x1 link is used. So basically even if you have an external card, the system is limited in speed for the expresscard interface.

The only real good reason you want to use this is if you do have a powerful laptop but a crappy gfx and want to play some newer games at decent framerates.

As for portability, that is something you should have considered when buying the laptop in the first place.

RE: Hmm
By ninjit on 1/7/2007 2:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
He's right, I had forgotten that Express card was PCIe 1x only until he mentioned it.

I wonder how that will effect performance?
There hasn't been a whole lot of situations where x16 is better than x8, but x1?

x1 is still pretty fast at 250MB/s (~2 Gbps).

RE: Hmm
By ADDAvenger on 1/7/2007 5:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
250MBps is fast? PC66 runs at 533MBps. That's probably fine for sound cards and RAID cards, but that's pretty weak for a graphics connection.

That said, I'm sure there is a market for this. At the very least I know a lot of financial guys can make use of three or four computer screens, this could let them skip buying a desktop that really wouldn't be needed for anything but 3+ monitor support.

RE: Hmm
By ninjit on 1/7/2007 5:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
PC66 is a memory interface (as CLEARLY stated in the wikipedia link you included), not a bus connection.

The original PCI spec was rated for only 266 MB/s (this what they mean when they refer to PCIe 1x).
The important thing to remember though, is that PCI is a shared bus, none of the attached cards will ever get the full throughput.

But PCIe is point-to-point.

The specification requires that all cards be able to function on their specified # of lanes and less. So a PCIex16 card could still function on x8 and even x1, but requires a physical x16 connector - all the other lanes but 1 will be dead.
This is exactly how this ASUS adapter works, it provides an x16 physical connector for 1x bus-width (the ExpressCard slot).

things is no one has ever tested a PCIe video card on anything less than an x8 slot, because motherboard manufacturers don't bother putting the x16 physical connetor on the smaller ones.

It would be nice to see a desktop motherboard with all x16 connectors, but with clear labels as to what the actual # of lanes in there are.

RE: Hmm
By Snipester on 1/7/2007 7:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
You wont get the clear labels on motherboards. You'll have to read about it in the chipset spec to see which slot has how many x PCIE speeds available. I think they assume most people who build computers should know.

There is one thing that i did forget about is PCIE 2nd Generation. Speed should theoretically double for 2.0.[ie. x16 1.0PCIE = x8 2.0PCIE] An expresscard with this interface could be tolerable.
It explains how 2.0 will be 5GT/s whereas 1.0 is 2.5GT/s.

The Point to point thing is a valid observation but loading the computer with alot of PCIE devices is still troublesome for the controller. Fortunately most devices only need x1 [Gigabit ethernet, tv tuners, maybe soundcards]

If you guys want to test x1 mode all you have to do is tape down the upper 15 lanes of your PCIE card. There are 4 notches per lane. Also do not attempt if you don't know what you are doing. I'm sure reviewers have done this before for x16 and x8 mode.

RE: Hmm
By MattCoz on 1/8/2007 1:07:11 PM , Rating: 2
I believe he was referring to PCI at 66 MHz, just linked the wrong wikipedia article. The original PCI spec was actually 133 MB/s though, and PCI-66 is 266 MB/s.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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