[Solved] XPS 15 - 9550 not able to reach 40Gbps over TB3?  

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Splitframe
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December 10, 2016 1:02 pm  

March-2016>> Dell now are listing TB3 PCIe lanes per XPS/Precision model in an official document


Feb-2017 nando4>> Dell have certainly been made aware of the problem as their latest XPS 9560 specs now explicitly state “Thunderbolt 3 (2 lanes of PCI Express 3)”. REF: 
http://www.dell.com/au/p/xps-15-9560-laptop/pd

Ports & Slots

1. SD card slot | 2. USB 3.0 with PowerShare | 3. Battery gauge button and indicator | 4. Kensington lock slot | 5. AC power | 6. HDMI |7. Thunderbolt™ 3 (2 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3) supporting: Power in/charging, PowerShare, Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps bi-directional), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet and USB-A via Dell Adapter (sold separately) | 8. Headset jack

 

3-Jan-2017 nando4>> The conclusion of this problem is the Dell XPS 9350/9360/9550/9650 and Precision M5510/M5520 have 2 PCIe 3.0 lanes (16Gbps), wired rather than 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes (32Gbps). This is summarized at https://egpu.io/forums/pc-setup/xps-15-9550-not-able-to-reach-40gbps-over-tb3/paged/3/#post-979 and the post straight after it.

 


 

Hi,

I noticed that all devices I connect via the AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe under perform by about 50% so I got curious and contacted AKiTiO about this issue.

They only had an XPS 13 9350 and said that in the XPS 13 the TB3 controller definitely only connected with x2.3 ( 16Gbps ) and that the HWInfo64 screenshot I send from my XPS 15 looks exactly the same as theirs on the XPS 13.

According to HWInfo64 the XPS 15 is indeed equipped with an DSL6340, so is the controller hindered by it’s x2.3 or x4.2 pcie connection? Is it a hardware or software ( BIOS/Firmware ) issue?

 

Edited: 5 months  ago

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nando4
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December 10, 2016 1:10 pm  

Yup. Root bridge (port#15) is reporting x2 3.0, which will be 16Gbps. Without eGPU attached does it still report x2 3.0?

If so, that would be a Dell issue with their handshaking with the TB3 controller. If you look at the TB3 controller, is it connected at x4 3.0 to the videocard? I only see a Samsung SSD there. Maybe it runs at x2 3.0 and the uplink bridges are downgraded in speed?

Those XPS machines are very nice. Want full TB3-32Gbps eGPU link speed on them

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Splitframe
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December 10, 2016 1:24 pm  

The pic above is with the 960 pro in the Akitio, with the NVidia it’s exactly the same just with the GPU and the HDAudio thing in the spot where now the 960 pro is.


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nando4
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December 10, 2016 3:02 pm  

Dell XPS 9550 and Precision M5510 run a x2 3.0 PCIe (16Gbps) hosting the TB3 controller limiting performance to 16Gbps

Your CUDA-Z results:   http://imgur.com/a/CIBQJ

Yep.. bandwidth is definitely x2 3.0. Couple of folks have posted CUDA-Z output from Apples running x4 3.0. It’s double yours.

The problem here is the BIOS has not configured the ports correctly as can be seen in the snippet pic below from  pg 197 of http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/datasheets/100-series-chipset-datasheet-vol-1.pdf

– 2 x2 links:  port13 + port15   <——– yours
– 1 x4 link:  port13     <——————  what you want

 port15 may be electrically excluded if configured to run x4 on port13

You only have one Thunderbolt port which is hosted of port15. Now the question is can port15 be mapped back to port13? Or is it still hardwired as port13, port15 (like it was in all previous chipsets up to 4th gen i-core) so that setting x4 port13 would exclude port15 from being active? 

If the latter, then it’s a hardware limitation requiring a new systemboard and I can see Dell snaking around to avoid that, because by right, they fix or give you a refund for misadvertising.  If it’s the former, then Dell can release a new BIOS setting port13 to x4.

It would be a pretty big oversight to wire up only 2 lanes from the Intel chipset to the 4-lane TB controller. So fingers crossed, it will just be a BIOS fix.

The Precision M5510 lspci.txt output here shows it too has a port13+port 15 x2 3.0 configuration matching what we see with the XPS 9550.

In this thread we show XPS 9350/9360/9550 and Precision M5510 all run 16Gbps TB3 (half advertised)

 

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Splitframe
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December 10, 2016 3:26 pm  

Many thanks to you nando!

I will throw the Dell support a mail explaining the situation, I hope they can just change the mapping
in the BIOS…

At least I can now be certain that there is a problem.

Thanks.

 

Posted by: nando4

 

You only have one Thunderbolt port which is hosted of port15. Now the question is can port15 be mapped back to port13? Or is it still hardwired as port13, port15 (like it was in all previous chipsets up to 4th gen i-core) so that setting x4 port13 would exclude port15 from being active? 

 

   

 Is there a chance that I can try this with Setup 1.31?

Edited: 9 months  ago

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nando4
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December 10, 2016 4:09 pm  

Unfortunately no.

As of Series-6 (2nd gen i-core), lane width is a write-once ME FW bootstrap thats asserted before any software or bootloader loads. I only know @timohour with a 3rd gen i-core Dell e6430 who extracted the BIOS+MEFW, used fitc (Intel tool) to change the lane width, then flashed the BIOS+MEFW back. He had to jumper the audio chip to enable full bios r-w. He got a x2 2.0 eGPU working thiss way. This is a fairly technically challenging process that may not even apply to your system. Intel has been locking down more configuration options each generation.

I’d suggest go the Dell route. There can be no denying now there is a BIOS/hardware misconfiguration resulting in only 16Gbps (x2 3.0) PCIe bandwidth instead of 32Gbps (x4 3.0) that Thunderbolt3 is specced at.

 

 Is there a chance that I can try this with Setup 1.31?   

 

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Splitframe
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December 10, 2016 5:00 pm  

That’s obama.

Well I’ll keep you guys posted on Dells answer to this.


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Richard
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December 12, 2016 11:54 am  

Unfortunately same issue on XPS 13 9360.

But it seems to be on port 1.

Edited: 9 months  ago

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Splitframe
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December 12, 2016 12:16 pm  
Posted by: Richard

 

Unfortunately same issue on XPS 13 9360.

But it seems to be on port 1.

   

Aww man… thanks for the info.
Can you run CUDA-Z anyway and tell us what values you get on the performance tab?
Thanks.


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theitsage
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December 12, 2016 3:02 pm  

I picked up a XPS 13 9350 this past weekend. I will check for the link speed tonight when I hook it up to Thunder3 enclosure and report back.  

Edited: 9 months  ago

Numerous implementation guides


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Richard
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December 12, 2016 3:22 pm  

Here you go

Edited: 9 months  ago

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julianpoyo
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December 12, 2016 3:53 pm  

What does the “device to device” number mean?


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nando4
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December 14, 2016 9:29 am  

Just had a browse of the XPS 9350 lspci.txt output here. Can see:

  • 0:1c.0 (port1) is configured as x2 3.0 (16Gbps).  The good news is that port can be switched to x4 3.0 mode. The question is whether the lanes 2-4 are electrically wired to the TB3 controller? Something Dell will need to answer since there are no readily available tools for us to switch the BIOS locked link width ourselves. x2 3.0 will give a maximum of 16Gbps bandwidth.
  • 0:1d.0 is configured as x4 3.0. It hosts the Samsung PCIe SSD which runs at x4 3.0. If fancy a NGFF.M2 eGPU and don’t mind underside wiring then using this port would give us a 32Gbps eGPU using say a BPlus PE4C 4.1.
 
Posted by: Richard

 

Unfortunately same issue on XPS 13 9360.

  

Edited: 7 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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theitsage
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December 14, 2016 9:48 am  

Thank you for the insights @Nando4. XPS 13 9350 is also hovering right at 1400 MiB/s.

Edited: 9 months  ago

Numerous implementation guides


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nando4
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December 14, 2016 10:08 am  

XPS 9350/9360/9550 all running 16Gbps TB3 (half advertised)

Yes, XPS 9350/9360/9550 all confirmed running at 16Gbps (~1400MiB/s) from their TB3 port. TB3 is specced at 32Gbps (x4 3.0) for PCIe traffic so we’d be looking for double those numbers.

Anybody affected may consider logging a support call to get this issue resolved via BIOS fix, replacement systemboard or a refund on the basis of performance under delivery.

I wish it wasn’t so as too am eyeing Dell Precision/XPS machines with TB3 ports. Holding off until we get some more answers from Dell about this.

Posted by: theitsage

 

Thank you for the insights @Nando4. XPS 13 9350 is also hovering right at 1400 MiB/s.

   

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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theitsage
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December 14, 2016 10:16 am  

I’ll run the 1.4.10 BIOS upgrade tonight and see if that improves the speed.

Numerous implementation guides


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nando4
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December 14, 2016 10:39 am  

15″ Precision M7510 has x4 3.0 (32Gbps) root PCIe port

Some good news. A least a Dell Precision M7510 isn’t affected. It does have two x4 3.0 root PCIe ports configured. From the lspci.txt  here:

0:1c.4 (port5) = x4 3.0 ->  [ probably the TB3 controller, not showing probably because not used ]
0:1d.0 (port9) = x4 3.0  -> Samsung PCIe SSD

So 15″ Precision M5510 or XPS 9550 users could side grade to a Precision M7510 as a workaround to get 32Gbps-TB3 bandwidth.

We don’t know whether the budget Precision M3510 is also affected. Still, it could be a free Dell side grade to a M7510 as a fix if is it was. Would get a significantly pricier machine in the process.

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Splitframe
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December 14, 2016 4:33 pm  

Got a reply back from Dell support that roughly equates to:

“Thank you for your in depth analysis of the problem,
we notified engineers about this and keep you posted”

It’s something ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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bananasplit
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December 20, 2016 4:26 pm  

What were the results?


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nando4
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December 20, 2016 11:10 pm  

+1. I too am eager to hear what Dell propose to get full 32Gbps performance on affected Dell XPS 9350/9360/9550 and Precision M5510.

Posted by: bananasplit

 

What were the results?

   

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Nier
 Nier
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December 21, 2016 8:03 am  

So will this mean that a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU will have a significantly decreased performance ? I’m getting the Akitio Node for my XPS 15, will the Node run weaker on my notebook as well?

Edited: 9 months  ago

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nando4
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December 21, 2016 8:20 am  

Until Dell fix the root hosting port via a new BIOS or systemboard so it run x4 3.0 (32Gbps) rather than the current x2 3.0 (16Gbps), your XPS 9550 will only be able to provide 16Gbps from it’s TB3 port. That’s regardless of which TB3 enclosure you use.

Posted by: Nier

 

So will this mean that a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU will have a significantly decreased performance ? I’m getting the Akitio Node for my XPS 15, will the Node run weaker on my notebook as well?

   

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Nier
 Nier
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December 21, 2016 8:32 am  

I apologize if I’m asking too many questions. I’m not familiar with tech. Will this 16Gbps limitation drastically hurt my eGPU’s performance then? In other words, will it even be worth getting a Node?

Also another question. I’m having throttling issues with my XPS when gaming. Will an eGPU solve this issue by taking off some of the heat from the laptop?


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nando4
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December 21, 2016 8:48 am  

16Gbps vs 32Gbps won’t be a drastic loss of performance if using an external LCD. Each netting 87% and 92% performance respectively if using a FHD external LCD and comparing to x16 3.0 REF: techpowerup PCIe scaling.

Where the decreased bandwidth will hurt you most is if using accelerated internal LCD mode, particularly on a 9550’s 4K UHD display. That will put a fair load on the Thunderbolt channel.

If your throttling due to CPU+dGPU temps, and you use a eGPU instead of the dGPU, then you have more thermal headroom to then play within. The answer is more likely yes, you’ll see an improvement in your current throttling when using an eGPU for gaming.

Posted by: Nier

 

I apologize if I’m asking too many questions. I’m not familiar with tech. Will this 16Gbps limitation drastically hurt my eGPU’s performance then? In other words, will it even be worth getting a Node?

Also another question. I’m having throttling issues with my XPS when gaming. Will an eGPU solve this issue by taking off some of the heat from the laptop?

   

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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Nier
 Nier
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December 21, 2016 8:56 am  

I’ll see if the Node runs well on my internal display then. If not, I’ll just get an external monitor. Thank you for your help!


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sbthebest
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December 21, 2016 4:54 pm  

It seems Dell has released new Thunderbolt 3 firmware , Thunderbolt controller driver and a BIOS update for XPS 9350/9360 (on 20th Dec, 16).

 

Is there anyone who had a go with these updates ? Does it fix the 2-lane issue ?

Thanks


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julianpoyo
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December 22, 2016 11:48 am  

Update on my communication with Dell…

They have denied my return request, and haven’t made any indication that they are even willing to acknowledge the problem.

The high level service rep handling my case left me a phone message this morning. He suggested that I keep the machine or try to sell it and get something I like.

I don’t think I’ll buy a Dell again.

Either way, I ordered an Akitio Node from B&H a week or two ago. Who knows when that will show up. I’ll post some test results on my 9360 and a 970 when it arrives.


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theitsage
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December 22, 2016 11:50 am  

@julianpoyo that is very disappointing to hear. 

Numerous implementation guides


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nando4
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December 22, 2016 3:55 pm  

A small claims court can be used to force Dell to pay a refund on the basis of underperformance of advertised TB3 spec if they don’t want to volunteer to do it. Then can get an Acer Nitro 592G or HP ZBook G3 which we can test and submit the same process if (unlikely) have the same problem.

Or get them to swap you for a chunky Dell Precision M7510. I confirm it has a secondary x4 3.0 port, likely the TB3 controller. Precision M3510 is an unknown but has that chunky form factor which may too mean it has such a port.

Dell’s response so far lacking any customer satisfaction sensitivity. Disappointing. Glad I held off buying one.

Posted by: julianpoyo

 

Update on my communication with Dell…

They have denied my return request, and haven’t made any indication that they are even willing to acknowledge the problem.

Edited: 9 months  ago

Interface Peformance Reference TableDIY eGPU Setup 1.35


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julianpoyo
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December 22, 2016 11:50 pm  

I feel like the little guy. I don’t know how to even begin that process.

Anyway, I updated to the new Bios v1.2.3. No PCIe link width changes.

I’m kind of wondering if it really is possible to fix this via a Bios update. Perhaps that is why Dell would avoid publishing a fix?

If this is Bios fixable, hopefully someone will figure out a hack to establish full link speed.

Edited: 9 months  ago

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