XConnect: AMD’s take on External GPUs, take two

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AMD has announced a new feature for its graphics drivers, dubbed XConnect, which aims to make using an external graphics card as simple as plugging in a flash drive.

Available in Radeon Software 16.2.2 and up, XConnect is part of AMD’s push to bringing high-performance desktop graphics to small form factor and mobile computers. While external graphics cards, typically connected over Thunderbolt and using the technology’s PCI Express lanes, aren’t new, AMD’s aim is to make using them as simple as plugging in any other peripheral – including the ability to just yank the wire and be on your way without needing to reboot the PC.

Those wishing to make use of the XConnect feature will need to do more than just upgrade to the latest graphics driver, though: the technology requires a system with Radeon Software 16.2.2 or later, a Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C port, a compatible cable able to carry the full 40Gb/s throughput, Thunderbolt NVM firmware 1.6 or later, Windows 10 Build 10586 or later, the necessary BIOS ACPI extensions required to support external GPUs, a certified GPU enclosure, and a Radeon R9 300 or Fury series graphics card to put in it.

The first vendor to meet all these requirements is Razer, whose Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook can be connected to the Razer Core eGFX Enclosure and used with AMD’s XConnect system. AMD has warned, however, that ‘not all notebooks or tablets feature AMD XConnect technology, and not all electronic graphics (eGFX) enclosures are pre-configured with an AMD Radeon graphics card and/or feature user upgradability.’

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