Nvidia has launched a new solution that allows users to plug in a powerful professional desktop Quadro GPU to a slimline notebook via Thunderbolt 3. The company’s new external GPU (eGPU) solution gives designers, engineers and architects on-demand access to high-end 3D graphics, VR, physically-based rendering or GPU compute.
Nvidia’s eGPU solution can house one of four high-end Nvidia Quadro GPUs, including the P4000, P5000, P6000 and GP100. A soon to be released R384 driver will allow the system to override the native GPU (integrated or discrete) and make the external Quadro GPU the primary GPU for the laptop. Importantly, the laptop does not need to be a mobile workstation with an internal Quadro GPU.
In terms of ISV (Independent Software Vendor) certification – one of the foundations of Nvidia Quadro – Nvidia’s Sandeep Gupte told DEVELOP3D that certifications will get translated over for ISVs that only certify GPUs.
However, for ISVs that do ‘system level’ certifications (i.e. entire workstations) Nvidia is working with firms like PTC and Dassault Systemes to see how the current certifications for Quadro will translate over to an eGPU configuration.
Traditionally, in order to get access to a high-end Quadro GPU from a laptop, users have had to invest in a 17-inch mobile workstation. However, these bulky machines are not very portable, often weigh over 3kg and have poor battery life, so are not well suited to day to day business travel. With the advent of Nvidia Quadro eGPU designers may not need to make a black and white choice between portability and power.
Quadro eGPU solutions will be available starting in September through partners including Bizon, Sonnet and One Stop Systems/Magma, with more to come. It will be interesting to see how mobile workstation manufacturers respond to this new development as it could potentially hurt sales of mobile workstations.