Enclosure & Hardware Discussions
A Blast from the Past: The Atto Thunderlink TLFC-1082-D00 - Analysis, Teardown, ...
 

A Blast from the Past: The Atto Thunderlink TLFC-1082-D00 - Analysis, Teardown, Results [Spoiler: Success!]  

  RSS

Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

As I linked here, I found a bunch of Atto Thunderlink units for sale on ebay. There are old Fiber Channel controller boxes to be used with FC SAN storage being sold without the SAN controllers. They are very cheap, making them about as expensive a GDC Beast setup, but they are Thunderbolt1 enclosures, which made them interesting enough to buy and try.

Earlier today, ebay notified me that the package has arrived, and indeed the Thunderlink was awaiting me when I got home. I immediately set to work.

The victim system in this case is my Lenovo T430s, and I am going to try various connectivity options via the Thunderlink PCB. At least initially, the results are not very promising as I am seeing weird behavior out of the setup.

But first, some photos.

This is what the Atto Thunderlink looks like. It is about the same size as an AKiTiO Thunder2/3. The rear bracket has room for two fiber-optic modules, but not for a regular PCIe card bracket:

20181217 182531
20181217 182500

Here is the power brick, a 12V, 5A, 60W power supply with a center-positive barrel plug. The barrel plug dimensions are the same as the AKiTiO Thunder2, at 2.5x5.5mm:

20181217 182606

Opening the unit up (which requires the removal of a single screw at the bottom), it looks like a proto-Thunder2 PCIe box, with a 40mm fan up front. Note how high the PCIe slot sits, which means that a full-sized card cannot fit in this box. If I had to guess, this was intentional, so that people did not swap cards in these units. Either that, or the FC card that was installed was aligned to the front fan (but it is not like the fan couldn't been placed lower...):

20181217 182912

The rear panel can be easily removed once six phillips screws and a nut holding the barrel plug socket are removed, allowing for a low-profile video card to fit while the box is closed with the rear panel removed. Note the two Thunderbolt ports and the power barrel-plug on the rear panel:

20181217 185233

So what is this board, you ask, and which Thunderbolt controller it uses? Well, that is a very interesting question, since searching for L145IA03 or Z145I001L comes up empty. Looking up the list of Intel Thunderbolt controllers, the only one launched in 2010 is the very first one, of the Light Ridge generation, known as the CV82524EFL. Since no other Thunderbolt controllers were in existence in 2010, this is likely it. The package size of 15mm x 15mm also seems to match up, as does the number of ports. This is one OLD controller! The board itself has few identifying marks, but states it is a "mLogic LLC. mLink". Searching for this leads me to here and here. Looking in the user guide, the board seems identical to what I have. Apparently, this is the same PCB as was used in the mLogic mLink Thunderbolt to PCIe adapters.

It has a fan header for the front panel fan, and next to the PCIe slot is a strange 4-pin connector which was not connected to anything in the box. I do not know what it does. Here is what it looks like:

20181217 185439
ControllerZoom

The PCB itself is exactly the same height as a low profile card placed into it, which is probably by design. The card connected is an HD7570:

20181217 185525

Next up: Let's power this thing up and see what it does...

This topic was modified 5 months ago

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


Mack Bonthera, mr.ribeiro, 3RYL and 1 people liked
ReplyQuote
Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Attempting to get this thing running with a GPU has been met with failure. The system will not boot at all with an XFX Single Slot RX460 4GB in the adapter. Using the HD7570 from above, I can get the system to boot, but attempting to install a driver leads to a crash and a reboot.

This is as far as I got:

NoDriver
Atto Board HD7570 Detection Is Weird

I wondered if this is a power issue, as the 60W adapter is going to be borderline for either of the two video cards I have on hand. I figured I'd give my trusty Dell DA-2 a shot, but the Dell power supply would cut out immediately as the system would power up, so the card would never run. Why is not clear to me, as the polarity of the barrel plug is the same as the AKiTiO Thunder2 it was used with before.

Overall, the box boots up fine, is detected, but isn't quite working with video cards. Unfortunately, I do not have a non-GPU card at this time. I'll see if I can scrounge up something tomorrow to see if the box is actually working. An Ethernet adapter, or an even lower power video card might be in order.

After connecting the PCB to my ZBook G4 via the Apple TB3 to TB adapter, neither the HD7570 nor the RX460 are detected in Windows. The Atto PCB gets picked up, but that's it:

AttoDetectedOnZBookG4

Now I have to wait for the PCIe mining riser to see if a power issue is what is blocking my progress. But to be honest, I suspect that is not the case. I think these Atto PCBs, based on ancient TB1 controllers, are simply not eGPU capable, due to whatever reason. It will be interesting if I can get this thing to work with other PCIe devices...

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


3RYL and itsage liked
ReplyQuote
Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

SUCCESS!!!

My new PCIe x1 to x16 riser (based on the trusty PCE164P-N03) arrived unexpectedly in the mail today (estimate was next week). I can confirm that once a powered riser is used, a video card is properly detected in the Atto Thunderlink unit!

I used a Dell DA-2 with a 2.5x5.5mm barrel plug to feed power to the PCIe riser, and used the Thunderlink's 60W power brick to power up the board itself. The result is a successful driver install in Win10! Both the HD7570 and the RX460 are properly detected:

SUCCESS
SUCCESS RX460

With the RX460, even running on the internal monitor works. The AIDA64 results are in line with a single PCIe Gen2 lane, which is interesting: This means that the card connects to the TB1 controller via Gen2.

ValleyRX460Internal
AIDA64

In short, the Atto Thunderlink works. A 2 PCIe lane powered riser will be sufficient to max out the TB1 link and provide a full TB1 eGPU experience. At 40$ for the enclosure, plus a riser and a cheap power supply (total cost of around 60-80$), you can have a fully functional TB1 to PCIe eGPU board.

20181218 211916
20181218 211935

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


Mack Bonthera, itsage, mr.ribeiro and 1 people liked
ReplyQuote
mr.ribeiro
(@mr-ribeiro)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

The sad is cuz TB port have 10gbps and using the riser adapter this bandwidth is droped to only 4gbps 🙁

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Very cool build! I really like that XFX single-slot GPU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

109 external GPU build guides


ReplyQuote
Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: P4RANOID

The sad is cuz TB port have 10gbps and using the riser adapter this bandwidth is droped to only 4gbps 🙁

Yes, but 4-lane risers exist. I just didn't have one on hand. If you were to use a 2-lane or 4-lane Gen2 riser, you should hit the full 10Gbps.

Posted by: itsage

Very cool build! I really like that XFX single-slot GPU.

I wanted one of these for a long, long time, just because they are awesome for a single-slot card. I nabbed this one for 60$ off ebay, and I've seen a few of these around the same price as well. A 2GB single slot version went for about 55$ in the last few days too.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


ReplyQuote
joevt
(@joevt)
Reputable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Can you post an example of a 4-lane riser? I think it won't work unless it has a separate power source like the 1-lane riser.

I wonder if it's just a power problem. Does the x16 slot have all the 12V and 3.3V power lines? Maybe it doesn't since it was made for a specific card. There are holes on the top of the PCIe slot. A very narrow gauge wire could probably be used to probe the voltages. What's that 4 pin connector next to the x16 slot for? Maybe it's for extra power. Test for continuity between it and the power pins of the x16 slot.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Prominent Member Moderator
Joined: 3 years ago
 

You would need a powered x4 to x16 riser. They exist on ebay, among other places. If you can find one cheap, you can even use something like this (it is pretty nifty, but not worth the 100$). Another way to do it (likely what I'll do) is to get a PCIe to m.2 card, and then use one of the many m.2 based eGPU adapters.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


ReplyQuote