A Call For Measurements: Isolating the Thunderbolt Effect.
 
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A Call For Measurements: Isolating the Thunderbolt Effect.  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

It should work in any desktop These expansion cards require an additional motherboard header to work. It would be an awesome benchmarking project! We'd need actual game benchmarks too, however, not just synthetics (these seems to perform better than games in some cases, so it won't be accurate that way). I assume you could put different video cards through that test? R9 Fury (X)? GTX980Ti? Do you have a GTX10XX card?

EDIT: I am getting greedy here (excitement is getting the better of me, sorry), but could you also compare the difference between slots? One time the TB3 card should be in the main PCIe slot (connected to the CPU). In a second scenario, the card should be in a PCIe slot that is connected to the PCH. I assume the X99 board should have one of those too.

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

ASUS ThunderboltEX 3 PCIe card is enroute. I dug around for more information on the AW Area 51 R2 motherboard and can confirm it has the Thunderbolt header connector (#12) to connect to this expansion card.

@wimpzilla gifted me some games through Steam so I will be able to run those in-game benchmarks for this project. The two GPUs I'm planning to use is R9 Fury X and GTX 1080 Ti. I don't have a 4K display however.

asus thunderex 3 pcie card
alienware area 51 r2 motherboard pins

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

The PCIe x4 slot is probably connected to the PCH. That would allow to test direct-to-CPU and via-PCH configurations too.

This is going to result in high quality data. The scientist in me is extra-happy Smile

EDIT: I forgot about that extra TB header thing. Good to know that the Alienware motherboard has the header, but does it have one that will work with the expansion card? The Asus site indicates a 9-pin connector. On the motherboard,  I am seeing a 5-pin one. What am I missing here?

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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That extra connector is weird. I wonder if it is actually required for PCIe-over-Thunderbolt to work, or is it used to provide USB connectivity to the TB chip by using one or two USB headers off the board (as the expansion card itself may not have a USB controller on it). I guess we'll find out, but it would suck if you were to buy that card and it won't work (although if it is off Amazon, you could return it without a hassle, so worth a shot, I guess).

EDIT #MAX_INT: I tried to look up people getting it to work on non-Asus motherboards and I am seeing a lot of conflicting results: Some people report it non-functional even on Asus boards, and I've seen people who claim to have it working on non-Asus boards. No idea at this point. It does look like you need the BIOS to be capable of selecting (via a menu) which PCIe slot has the Thunderbolt board, and it might not work in all slots.

EDIT #-1: It looks like the extra connector is a "GPIO" header. This isn't USB. This is likely not gonna work, then. We'd need someone with a motherboard off the supported list to be sure that it can work.

EDIT #0 (overflow jokes, heh): It looks like an MSI Thunderbolt expansion may work, but that thing (MSI Thunderbolt Plus) is a mythical creature that may have never been sold...

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
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I think there's a Thunderbolt controller on the motherboard which communicates to the Thunderbolt PCIe card via this TB header cable. There's not much information on this particular setup. Here's one of the few pictures I found which show one end of the TB header cable has a 5-pin connector.

The i7-5820K has 28 PCIe lanes. When I tried triple RX 480 CrossFire setup, Slot 1 is 8x, Slot 3 is 16x, and Slot 5 is 4x. I'm excited to see what comes out of this project. Thank you @Yukikaze for the fun idea. I welcome all suggestions to get the best data out of this project as possible.

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2021 13" ASUS ROG Flow X13 (RTX3050Ti) [R5K,8C,H] + RTX 3080 @ 64Gbps-XG (XG Mobile) + Win10 20H2 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Hmm. That wiring setup might actually work, as it seems to show how the wiring should be done from the 9-pin to the 5-pin connector.

But I don't think there is a TB controller on the board. That wiring is definitely not good enough for high-rate signaling. Seeing my link above to the "GPIO header" requirement, I suspect that this is a GPIO control side-channel, used to talk to and configure the TB controller on the expansion card.

I hope this works!

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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nando4
(@nando4)
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Posted by: itsage

 

I think there's a Thunderbolt controller on the motherboard which communicates to the Thunderbolt PCIe card via this TB header cable. There's not much information on this particular setup. Here's one of the few pictures I found which show one end of the TB header cable has a 5-pin connector.

The i7-5820K has 28 PCIe lanes. When I tried triple RX 480 CrossFire setup, Slot 1 is 8x, Slot 3 is 16x, and Slot 5 is 4x. I'm excited to see what comes out of this project. Thank you @Yukikaze for the fun idea. I welcome all suggestions to get the best data out of this project as possible.

   

Awesome test bed to give vital TB3 performance data.  With your motherboard,  can use hwinfo64 to identify the TB3 PCIe slot attachment type:

  • TB3-CPU attachment will show up under 0:1.0, 0:1.1 or 0:1.2 PCIe slots . The motherboard manual will specify these high performance slots to be used for video cards.
  • TB3-PCH attachment will show up under 0:1b.x, 0:1c.x or 0:1d.x PCIe slots. They are hex so might also be shown as 0:27.x, 0:28.x, 0:29.x. x can be any number.

Also, the motherboard's x4 slot will come in handy to get x4 32Gbps PCIe CUDA-Z bandwidth vs 22Gbps TB3 CUDA-Z bandwidth.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M.2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 // compares M.2 vs TB3 performance inc unoptimized H-CPU BIOS [build link]  


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Zach
 Zach
(@zach)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

BareFeats did a test comparing this very thing (loosely), in terms of IF bandwidth affects the outcome of using professional apps. I know this particular thread/discussion/scenario is more exacting, but it does give insight into TB2 vs TB3 and internal PCIe performances. 

Does Bandwidth matter?

As of right now, bandwidth doesn't make much of a difference, if at all, for the professional applications that were tested. 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

Yeah, our current "working assumption" is that for professional offloads where there is little data input/output to the device (In other words, in "send data out, crunch it, copy results" kind of workloads), there should be little to no effect between the host-to-device (and back) bandwidth and the device performance. It is good to see some data corroborating that as fact.

Want to output 4K@60Hz 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."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

It was close but did not work. All components plugged in where they should and the AKiTiO Node even powered on when connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port. Intel Thunderbolt Software shows no communication however.

I found older BIOS (A02, A04) which had support for Thunderbolt. This Alienware Area 51 R2 is currently running A10 and can't be downgraded through Windows. I'm not familiar with flashing BIOS through DOS.

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external graphics card builds
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2021 13" ASUS ROG Flow X13 (RTX3050Ti) [R5K,8C,H] + RTX 3080 @ 64Gbps-XG (XG Mobile) + Win10 20H2 [build link]  


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