Alienware Graphics Amplifier CUDA-Z Speed
 
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itsage
(@itsage)
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If you have an AGA and an Nvidia card, can you check the speed in CUDA-Z? I'm writing a review on this enclosure and found something unexpected with its performance. I want to know if this is happening for other people too.

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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
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I'm at work currently but I will when I get home.

2018 Mac mini: Core i3, 8GB RAM, Sonnet 350 (aftermarket 550w PSU)+XFX Radeon RX-480 8GB Black Edition
2012 Mac mini: Core i7, 16GB RAM, Toshiba 1TB SSD, Seagate 1TB HDD
Custom: Ryzen 7 1700, 16GB Corasir DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 2x Corsair 500GB Neutron SSD, Seagate 3TB SSD, EVGA Nvidia 980Ti
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jim_survak
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clocks

Here they are. Anything strange?

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itsage
(@itsage)
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Thank you. Can you click on the Performance tab in CUDA-Z? I'm looking to see what the speeds are showing.

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jim_survak
(@jim_survak)
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Perf

The 980Ti is obviously going to have different clocks & performance numbers than the 1060. What exactly might we want to be looking for?

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itsage
(@itsage)
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Thank you! I'm looking for Host to Device and Device to Host speeds. When you click on the ? in GPU-Z and run the test, does the Bus Interface box show x4?

Alienware claimed the AGA uses a direct 4x PCIe 3.0 which has a theoretical max of 32Gbps. What your AGA and my AGA are showing in CUDA-Z is the equivalent of 4x PCIe 2.0. This is from Dell's website under FAQs section for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier:

What is the difference between PCI Express Gen3X4 lanes and Intel Thunderbolt 3 Plug and Play?

The Alienware Graphics Amplifier’s technology uses a direct hardware connection, while the Thunderbolt 3 technology is based on a platform with shared bandwidth. Alienware’s amplifier will never share, or compromise, the bandwidth to your system’s GPU. Instead, it provides reserved high bandwidth directly to your system’s GPU with one unique cable connection. Alienware Graphics Amplifier utilizes four lanes of dedicated PCIe Gen 3. The Thunderbolt 3 specification is capable of either two or four lanes of PCIe depending on the OEM’s implementation of Intel’s technology. Alienware gains an advantage by having these lanes dedicated to graphics that are not shared by LAN, USB or display ports.

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nando4
(@nando4)
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Joined: 4 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

 

What is the difference between PCI Express Gen3X4 lanes and Intel Thunderbolt 3 Plug and Play?

Alienware Graphics Amplifier utilizes four lanes of dedicated PCIe Gen 3. The Thunderbolt 3 specification is capable of either two or four lanes of PCIe depending on the OEM’s implementation of Intel’s technology. Alienware gains an advantage by having these lanes dedicated to graphics that are not shared by LAN, USB or display ports.

We are seeing two problems with Dell's statement:

1. @itsage's CUDA-Z host-to-device results of 1616MiB/s is well short of the 2938MiB/s reached by this direct PCIe M.2 x4 3.0 eGPU implementation.  Is this a cable or terminating impedance issue with the driver pulling back performance to maintain a reliable link?

 

2. The Alienware 13 R2 host system IS sharing PCIe bandwidth with LAN, USB since it's using a PCH PCIe port rather than a CPU one.  There, PCIe traffic needs to go to the CPU via the DMI x4 3.0 link. The ULV platform doesn't even have a CPU PCIe port to utilize there.

 

@jim_survak, a Alienware 13 R1 uses a i5-5xxxU Broadwell CPU. Their PCH PCIe ports max out at Gen2 speed, so the link would be x4 2.0. You can confirm this by reviewing the hwinfo64 section as shown by @itsage for his Alienware 13 R2.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
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Yukikaze
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Joined: 4 years ago
 

If you take a look at jim_survak's GPU-Z screenshot, it looks like the PCIe link he has is PCIe x2.2, not x4.2.

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wimpzilla
(@wimpzilla)
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Are you sure that cuda-z is able to trigger the pci-e power management efficiently?!

If you noticed the same result in game it mean maybe there is a problem somewhere.

If you didn't encounter any deterioration gaming side, it could simply mean that cuda-z do not boost the pci-e to his full speed, so you get back the base pci-e speed like a 1x 3.0 8GT/s!

So 1st thing to do is to check the pci-e bandwidth speed under heavy graphic applications to be sure that the link switch to 4x 2.0/3.0 bandwidth.

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itsage
(@itsage)
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I made sure the PCIe connection via the AGA was running at x4 3.0 before starting CUDA-Z. As you can see GPU-Z and CUDA-Z were running side by side. For reference, this table show the same GTX 980 Ti in 3 different scenarios: x4 PCIe 3.0 slot, 4x PCIe over Thunderbolt 3, 4x PCIe over AGA.

GTX 980 Ti Z170 Test Bench
x4 PCIe 3.0 Slot
Razer Blade Stealth
TB3 External Display
Alienware 13 R2
AGA External Display
       
Unigine Valley 90.3 FPS 78.6 FPS 72.9 FPS
Unigine Heaven 87.6 FPS 78.2 FPS 76.7 FPS
Unigine Superposition 91.7 FPS 86.6 FPS 86.6 FPS
3DMark Time Spy 35.1 FPS 32.2 FPS 35.1 FPS
3DMark Fire Strike 84.7 FPS 72.7 FPS 84.1 FPS
       
Rise of the Tomb Raider 60.0 FPS 57.3 FPS 59.6 FPS
Tom Clancy's GhostRecon 69.2 FPS 56.0 FPS 53.8 FPS

If we take Dell's marketing at face value, the AGA performance should be closer to desktop 4x PCIe 3.0 and much faster than Thunderbolt 3 eGPU. This is not what I'm seeing.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2013 Mac Pro (FP D500 x2) [3rd,12C,E] + RX 5700 XT @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Mantiz Saturn Pro) + macOS 11 [build link]  


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