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AKiTiO Node Duo - Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis for 2x Cards
 

AKiTiO Node Duo - Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Chassis for 2x Cards  

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itsage
(@itsage)
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AKiTiO recently announced the Node Duo, a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with two PCIe slots. There are some limitations though. First is the half length accommodation. This means you can only fit ITX GPUs inside this box. The second is 2 PCI lanes per slot. AKiTiO provides two options for the power supply. One is a 150W power brick and the other is 230W.

If you look closely, there's a breakaway tab on the top left in the rear of the enclosure. This allows PCIe power cables to be fed through for power-hungry GPUs. There are only a handful of cards that may fit though. One use I'm particularly interested in is to build an eGPU with Thunderbolt 3 video output. In this instance the first PCIe slot would host a GPU with at least two DisplayPort outputs. The second PCI slot hosts a Thunderbolt 3 AIC.

The arrangement of the front enclosure fan seems similar to the Node. It would make mounting the radiator from a hybrid card such as R9 Fury X a breeze. RX Vega Nano should fit in this enclosure as well. Power supply modifications seem minimal due to DC input port looks to be the same as PCIe 6-pin connector.

This topic was modified 1 year ago

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Eightarmedpet
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joevt
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Powering a Thunderbolt Display you say?

Yes, but without the ability to use the speakers, camera, USB ports, brightness-control and whatever else of the display that requires PCIe tunneling to work through the AIC because the software to enable those features of the AIC in this configuration doesn't exist.

The AKiTiO Node Duo is much less expensive than other multi slot expansion boxes because it only uses the four lanes of the Thunderbolt 3 controller (x2, x2). The Sonnet Echo Express III-D uses an expensive PCIe switch for its three slots (x4, x8, x8), plus a larger power supply, etc.

An AKiTiO Node Trio  (x2, x1, x1) or Quadro (x1, x1, x1, x1) would be interesting possibilities. A Thunderbolt 3 Dock uses x1,x1,x1,x1 to support four controllers. A four slot Node would let you choose your own controllers for each slot (USB 3.1 gen 2 instead of just gen 1, 10 GbE instead of just GbE, eSATA, FireWire with more than one port, etc.).

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


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itsage
(@itsage)
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I'm gearing up to put the Node Duo through its paces. So far I have these PCIe components ready to pair up with an eGPU:

  • Gigabyte Alpine Ridge AIC - External Graphics + TB3 Monitor Output
  • Asus STRIX RAID DLX Sound Card - External Graphics + DAC & AMP
  • Aquantia AQtion 10G Pro NIC - External Graphics + 10Gbps Ethernet
  • NVMe PCIe Adapter + Samsung Evo 960 - External Graphics + SSD

 

Please let me know if you have more fun ideas. I have a couple of mini-ITX graphics cards to use and one of the setups will be dual eGPU. I will also remove the front fan and fascia so that I can mount full-length GPUs. The AKiTiO Node Duo comes with either 150W or 230W power supply. Neither one of these provides enough juice. I'm going to use either an ATX or SFX PSU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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joevt
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A Sunix UPD2018 would give a fully functional USB-C port (USB + DisplayPort), unlike the Thunderbolt 3 add-in card (just DisplayPort or DisplayPort over Thunderbolt) until software to enable the Thunderbolt 3 add-in card in arbitrary PCIe slots is created (if such a thing is possible). level1techs.com has a Thunderbolt 3 add-in card working in an AMD Threadripper motherboard (using Linux, hot plug not 100% yet). I think the motherboard has a thunderbolt header? Well I don't think the header is 100% necessary.

I guess if you got any ASM1142 based USB card to work then it would prove the UPD2018 would work. This would be the basis for a solution supporting two USB-C displays like the HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 does.

It will be interesting to see how the x2 slots will affect everything (capped H2D, D2H for the graphics and NVMe, etc.). I guess if eGPUs with USB or ethernet work then these slots should work or maybe not since those ports use only USB from the Thunderbolt controller? There's probably an example somewhere of someone using a Thunderbolt 3 device (not Thunderbolt USB) connected a eGPU? Like the LG 5K connected to the Blackmagic eGPU (the LG 5K has a USB controller that is not part of the Thunderbolt 3 controller).

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


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 chx
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  • Aquantia AQtion 10G Pro NIC - External Graphics + 10Gbps Ethernet

 

This is the most interesting one but I wonder whether you could borrow a Sonnet Solo TB3 from somewhere and check speeds of it on a laptop / Thunderbolt downstream of an eGPU vs this card. They use the same chip, I think.  I'll quite probably get the Solo TB3 come September when I visit the head office in the USA. That you can get a palm sized 10gbit Ethernet device for 180 USD absolutely blows my mind. I remember when the FDDI ring was the bees knees and that was not that long ago. This is a hundred times faster than the wonder-fast intercampus network was and costs roughly nothing. Didn't even take thirty years...

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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reptilianbrain
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Can anyone weigh in on how much sense it makes to run 1080GTX in SLI mode? Would Thunderbolt-3 provide enough bandwidth?

@itsage I think eGPU + capture card could be interesting - for streaming for example? 

MBP 2013 750M + Akitio [email protected]GTX1080 (Zotac Mini)


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@reptilianbrain SLI and CrossFire are not possible. Each slot in the Node Duo is x2 PCIe.

@chx 10Gb Ethernet has gotten very affordable. The Aquantia AQtion 10G Pro is recognized the same as the Sonnet Solo10G PCIe Card. They look identical too.

aquantia gaming card 10gbe 1 575px

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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 chx
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Yes I know it became very affordable -- that's exactly what boggles my mind -- what I was curious is how much speed do you really get from connecting that chip various ways but I guess PCIe x2 3.0 being 16gbps is enough no matter what. Beach Audio sells the MS510TX switch on eBay for 300 USD -- it has two 2.5, two 5, one 10 and one 10 SFP ports (and four 1 gbps but meh). It would do good once  https://www.anandtech.com/show/12852/aquantia-multigig-single-chip-usb-30-to-5g25g-dongles-coming-soon these land... 

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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Mandril420
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Posted by: itsage

AKiTiO recently announced the Node Duo, a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with two PCIe slots. There are some limitations though. First is the half length accommodation. This means you can only fit ITX GPUs inside this box. The second is 2 PCI lanes per slot. AKiTiO provides two options for the power supply. One is a 150W power brick and the other is 230W.

If you look closely, there's a breakaway tab on the top left in the rear of the enclosure. This allows PCIe power cables to be fed through for power-hungry GPUs. There are only a handful of cards that may fit though. One use I'm particularly interested in is to build an eGPU with Thunderbolt 3 video output. In this instance the first PCIe slot would host a GPU with at least two DisplayPort outputs. The second PCI slot hosts a Thunderbolt 3 AIC.

The arrangement of the front enclosure fan seems similar to the Node. It would make mounting the radiator from a hybrid card such as R9 Fury X a breeze. RX Vega Nano should fit in this enclosure as well. Power supply modifications seem minimal due to DC input port looks to be the same as PCIe 6-pin connector.

Hi itsage. Are you 100% sure the GC Alpine Ridge can convert 2 Display Ports to Thunderbolt 3? Can it drive the LG Ultrafine 5K at 5K60Hz? (I'm aware I wouldnt get usb, audio, brightness control, etc).

If so I could buy an GC Alpine Ridge and a LG ultrafine 5k so I can put the Alpine Ridge in my Mac Pro 5,1 with an 1080Ti to drive the LG Ultrafine 5k at 5k60hz. correct??

And when the Akitio Node Duo box comes out I can also use the same GC Alpine Ridge cardto connect my 2018 macbook pro EGPU to the Ultrafine 5k. right? 

Are there any user reports that the GC Alpine ridge will work at 5k60hz on a macpro 5,1 or macbookpro egpu setup with the LG ultrafine 5k?

tks guyz!

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


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 chx
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Here's one report of many about the GC-Alpine Ridge working with the LG Ultrafine 5K, so yeah we are sure. Do note this is with an AMD card. The fruity fashion tech toy maker does not officially support nVidia eGPUs. This forum spent an extraordinary amount of effort to fix this (instead of just buying a ThinkPad).

However the card will not transmit PCIe data which is needed for the other features of the display (USB controller for USB ports, audio, camera, brightness controls, etc.). Brightness control may be achieved through DDC/CI though with an app or command line.

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


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Eightarmedpet
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@chx you Mac bashing gets boring pretty quick. Why not just respect other peoples personal decisions and preferences?

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@mandril420 In my unboxing post, I was able to get TB3 monitor output by testing the AIC with a TB3 dock. I don't have the LG UltraFine 5K and won't be buying one to confirm 100%. As @chx said there are success stories with hackintosh builds using the same method so it's likely to work.

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Mandril420
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@chx @itsage thank you for your answers. I am looking to get a 5K monitor to replace my Apple LED Cinema Display 27" on my Mac Pro 5,1 and get into the retina era (just got a new macbook pro now its hard to go back to nonretina). The Lg Ultrafine 5k seems ideal. However I wonder if I can get 5K60hz with an Nvidia 1080Ti on MacOS. Do you guys know if the Alpine Ridge rev 2.0 works? or does the Alpine Ridge card have to be rev 1.0? Asking for a friend lol... tks!

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


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joevt
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macOS Nvidia drivers don't support 5K except on the discontinued Dell UP2715K display. There is a patch for the LG UltraFine 5K but it is not without problems.

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


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