DIY eGPU experiences

Discussion in 'e-GPU (External Graphics) Discussion' started by master blaster, Sep 18, 2009.

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  1. useafo

    useafo Notebook Consultant

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    Are they doing some maintenance?
     
  2. noric

    noric Notebook Consultant

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    I have no idea, sorry...
     
  3. nefx

    nefx Notebook Guru

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    I test Win 8 RTM on X220T during 3 months. Everything is ok but Lenovo software didn't work.
     
  4. useafo

    useafo Notebook Consultant

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    I have also tried to access to the website with dell inspiron 1501 laptop, the results are the same.
     
  5. HopelesslyFaithful

    HopelesslyFaithful Notebook Virtuoso

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    i thought it was in here but i can't find it. It was an article that talked about what cards max out PCIe blank setting. There had a bunch of tests of cards running 2.0 and 3.0 taking a look at what cards get capped at x bandwidth and i really need that article. Does anyone know of the article i am talking about? I can't even remember what site it was on.
     
  6. Waynebo

    Waynebo Newbie

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    I have a GTX460 running off a PE4H on a sandy bridge core i5-2520M. Is it worthwhile to switch over to the PE4L 2.1?
     
  7. nefx

    nefx Notebook Guru

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    For GTX460 no. For GTX 660 or higher yes. I Change my P4EH to P4EL for GTX560, but i plane buy GTX 670 in next year.
     
  8. PatrikL

    PatrikL Newbie

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    I've a macbook pro 15" late 2011 i7 2,4ghz and I'm using TH05 with win7 and i get "code 12" the whole time,what shall i do? please help
     
  9. oripash

    oripash Notebook Enthusiast

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    Because I failed at homework and only found out it exists after having ordered the sonnet :/

    EDIT: It was a good move.

    TH05 = ONE thunderbolt channel. 10Gbit/sec in each direction. Equivalent to two PCIe 2.0 lanes electrically. (PCIe 2.0 = 500Megabyte/sec per lane)
    Sonnet Echo Express Pro: TWO thunderbolt channels. 2 x 10Gbit/sec in each direction. Equivalent to four PCIe 2.0 lanes electrically. This is basically the same bandwidth good'ol AGPx8 (or PCIe 1.0 x8) used to give us. See here:

    http://store1.sonnettech.com/product_info.php?&products_id=403


    Unlike its 2011 sibling, the 2012 macbook air has a dual-channel thunderbolt controller. The sonnet takes advantage of it, doubling what is effectively the biggest bottleneck in the system - the interconnect between the CPU and GPU.
     
  10. oripash

    oripash Notebook Enthusiast

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    UPDATED
    This is a re-post from another thread, figured it's relevant here too.

    This is a loose guide for installing Windows 8 64-bit in EFI mode (e.g. not via bootcamp), dual-booting with MacOSX on a 2012 Macbook Air. The purpose of this exercise is to set up a windows-based game rig on the mac using a thunderbolt-based eGPU, that will co-exist nicely with OSX.

    View attachment 86458
    View attachment 87799

    My experiences so far:
    There are two roads to install Windows on a mac.
    The road of BIOS and the road of EFI.

    Older PC's only have BIOS. Windows on those PCs talks to hardware directly through the BIOS.
    Macs come with EFI as the primary interface to the hardware. OSX talks to hardware directly through EFI.
    Macs also come with a BIOS emulation, because through BIOS, Windows works flawlessly (with the exception of thunderbolt...). This is how bootcamp makes your windows work.
    The newest Windows (Win7/64 and Win8/64 ONLY) can interface with hardware directly through EFI as well. Not all windows drivers are tested to work this way.

    What happens with eGPU's - the new eGPU thunderbolt device tells EFI/BIOS it exists. On a BIOS-based PC, the BIOS would enumerate it and tell the OS the device is ready. Tomshardware review of the Sonnet suggests this works flawlessly on a thunderbolt-equipped desktop motherboard.

    On an EFI-based mac, things are a bit different. The thunderbolt device tells the EFI it exists. The EFI enumerates it as a PCI device and tells the OS the device is ready. That's what happens in OSX (which runs in straight EFI mode), and what happens in Win7/x64 or Win8/x64 if you installed them in straight EFI mode.

    If, however, you run windows in regular BIOS mode (if you installed Windows via bootcamp, this is the case), Apple's BIOS emulation does not pass the thunderbolt enumeration event back to windows, and your thunderbolt eGPU doesn't work.

    There's a way to make it work using a rain dance, where you connect the eGPU to the mac but not the AUX power plug to the GPU, turn mac on, get past the boot loader, immediately turn the GPU power on before windows completes booting, jump on one foot holding your left ear, bend over backwards twice, scream in agony, and on occasion your thunderbolt device gets recognized and appears in device manager. Even then, twice it disappeared on me while installing nVidia drivers. I gave up on trying to get thunderbolt eGPUs work it through Apple's BIOS emulation.

    I decided to install windows in EFI mode. I tried windows7/64bit/EFI, ran into a pile of weirdness installing and gave up. I'm using Win8/64/EFI instead.

    Setting up a dual-boot EFI on a macbook is easy:
    a. NO BOOTCAMP.
    b. when in OSX, fire up terminal, sudo to root and shrink your EFI OSX partition:
    # diskutil resizevolume /dev/disk0s2 250G
    (in this case, I have a 512GB SSD, I shrunk the partition to 250G).
    c. DO NOT create windows partitions under OSX. DEFINITELY do not let boot camp do this for you - it creates MBR partitions, EFI windows won't install on that.
    d. On some windows PC (or if you're like me, in your Windows7 parallels VM), Create a USB bootdrive of windows 8:
    insert 4GB or larger USB disk. Note: below steps will wipe it. Proceed at own risk.
    run command prompt as administrator
    > diskpart
    > list disk
    (check which disk number your USB disk appears as, use it in the next commands)
    > select your-usb-disk-number-from-previous-step
    > clean
    > convert gpt
    > create partition primary
    > select partition 1
    > format quick fs=fat32
    > assign
    > exit
    Now copy the guts of the windows 8 DVD or ISO onto this new drive.
    Congrats, you now have an install drive.

    e. Back on our macbook, I recommend installing rEFIt - install it, then open a shell, cd to /efi/refit and run:
    sudo ./enable.sh

    f. Reboot with the USB disk in. in the rEFIt menu, you should see two ways to boot from the USB disk - EFI and BIOS. Choose EFI.

    g. Installing windows:

    1. First boot: windows installation. When you get to the partitioning stage, you should have a block of empty space on your macbook SSD. Let windows create its EFI partitions on them and tell windows to format the last big one of these. Then proceed with the install.
    It will copy files and reboot.
    2. Seocnd boot: you don't need to do anything. It will go into a black screen (this is because the GMA4000 driver breaks in EFI mode), reboot on its own after a few minutes.
    3. Third boot: Again, it'll go into a black screen again. LEAVE FOR 15 MINUTES for the installer to do its thing, then, after it presumably finished doing all the things it isn't showing you, HARD POWER-OFF.
    4. Fourth boot: In the refit menu, choose to boot off the USB drive again. This time go into the recovery menu and fire up a command prompt. Delete the broken intel GMA4000 driver file (causing the default VGA driver to take over). Once in the shell, run:
    C:\> del c:\windows\system32\drivers\igdkmd64.sys
    Exit the shell and let the machine reboot.
    5. Timekeeping: Windows likes to think that the machine's SAVED time (what time your machine thinks it is if you boot it completely offline) reflects the local time in your timezone. OSX likes to think SAVED time reflects time in Greenwich. They'll keep fighting between them over what time it is.
    Solution:
    In Windows, using regedit, navigate-to and add the following DWORD, and set it to 1:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\RealTimeIsUniversal
    Then reboot. Now let either OS set the time, and it will remain good across both.

    6. Windows works!.

    h. DO NOT TRY TO UPDATE THE DRIVER FOR THE GMA4000 onboard graphics. It will just reinstall a new (still broken, as of the time I'm writing this post) igdkmxd64.sys file, and force you to go through step 4 above again.

    i. I installed Forceware 306.97 nVidia driver for Win8/64. It installed fine.

    j. Go back to OSX. Fire up boot camp assistant and select "Download the latest Windows support software from Apple". Untick everything else. Save it on your USB or somewhere where windows can see it. It will create a WindowsSupport directory with drivers for all the Apple bits and an installer that installs all of them.
    Boot into windows, go to the WindowsSupport folder on this USB stick and run setup.exe. This will properly install drivers for a few more things, including bluetooth. GMA4000, screen brightness controls & onboard audio will still not work.

    The boot camp control panel in windows won't work - its start screen shows bootable partitions and it expects a hybrid MBR which we've very deliberately avoided setting up in our non-1980's shiny GPT partition structure (you can manually install a hybrid MBR and experiment using gdisk and the 'h' option in the recovery submenu, but that confuses the hell out of windows).

    l. Things that don't work for me:

    1. Screen brightness controls in Windows.
    2. Sound driver. I just plugged in an external USB sound card I had lying around.
    3. The GMA driver. There are four drivers you can use:
    a. The GMA driver bundled with windows (or an updated WHQL one from windowsupdate).
    b. The driver supplied in Apple's bootcamp driver pack.
    c. The latest GMA driver downloadable from intel's website.
    d. The default VGA driver in Windows.

    As of 26/11/2012, (a-c) do NOT work in EFI. This has nothing to do with the eGPU and whether it is connected or not. It has everything to do with the driver not yet being written to be compatible with windows working in straight EFI. I'm sure Intel will fix this at some point, I'm just not sure when this will happen. (a) and (b) will give you a yellow triangle in device manager, (c) will not (but still not work).
    (d) works FINE (it's snappy and not laggy or anything, it doesn't feel like the good'ol "video card without a driver" in windows). It'll be 100% good for everything except optimus/gaming.

    4. Boot camp control panel (to tweak behavior of apple hardware, trackpad options, what the button on your apple display does, etc). It opens up on the "partitions" tab, which it can't figure out because we have no hybrid MBR, so it bombs out.
    The system tray icon still runs, and you can tweak some of the behavior via registry if you're thus inclined.

    At the end of the day:
    Steam works. So do all games I tried to date (Metro 2033, Borderlands, Portal 2...)

    3DMark 2011 works gave me a score of:
    Score: P5802 3DMarks
    Graphics Score: 7147
    Physics Score: 3703
    Combined Score: 3719

    By contrast:
    A retina Macbook Pro 15 with a Kepler dGPU does P2275, and an alienware M18x does P5602.

    Mu-ha-ha.

    I would REALLY love to compare this rig in a benchmark that is HIGHLY influenced by PCIe constraints (such as the Dirt3min test Anand ran here: http://www.anandtech.com/print/5458) using [a] a 660Ti with 2GB, a 660Ti with 3GB, [c] a 680/690 (at, say, 1080p and 2560x1600 res) and [d] Same 680/690 with 4GB.
    This would show:
    1. Whether having more GPU RAM results in meaningfully more on-card caching (both at the 660-level cards and 680 or 690 level cards), less need to shuttle textures over limited thunerbolt bandwidth and ultimately a meaningful performance increase.
    2. Whether there's any point in putting a high-end GPU on this rig.
    I don't have the required GPU's, but if anyone is in the Melbourne, Australia area and has one he can lend for the sake of this experiment, shoot me a private message and we'll try.

    My kit:
    Macbook Air 2012:
    Dual-channel thunderbolt (Intel DSL3510L Cactus Ridge controller, details here), 2x10Gbit/direction, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CPU: Intel Core i7-3667U @ 2.00GHz/3.2GHz turbo'd (...always wanted to run a gamebox on a ULV 14Watt part :D)

    Thunderbolt to PCIe: Sonnet Echo Express Pro

    GPU: Galaxy GTX660ti 3GB

    Power supply: FSP X5, external to the Sonnet enclosure. (It's a 5.25'' 450Watt booster PSU).
    I'm too lazy to pull enough 12V rails from the Sonnet's built-in 150W PSU to drive the card (and I don't want to accidentally fry it, it is an $800 part), so I'm feeding the GPU's power from an external $80 source.

    Summary: to quote a vending machine.. "FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT MORE AWESOME".
     
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