external graphics cards

This has intriguing potential ramifications for computer design downstream:

A new PCI Express standard has been approved that will allow for the development of and operation of external PCIe graphics cards. Dubbed the PCI Express External Cabling specification and approved by the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG), version 1.0 extends PCIe outside of the case.

The most obvious application for the new standard is external enclosures for graphics cards. Once you get past the price tag, the biggest barriers for many who would want to deploy a dual SLI or Crossfire system are heat, power, and space. Newer GeForce and Radeon graphics cards can emit a lot of heat while demanding a significant amount of power under high load. In addition, the need for large heat sinks and fans often means that you lose a second slot to a single PCIe graphics card.

Now imagine sticking a pair of graphics cards into an external enclosure with its own power supply and fan, hooking your monitor to that, and connecting it to your PC or even a laptop. Those are the kinds of possibilities opened up by the External Cable specification.

The advantages are well-summarized above, but take the idea further. We already have external bulk storage and external sound cards for laptops. Now imagine that via Bluetooth you also divorce the keyboard and mouse. External optical drives are also easier to deal with than internal bays. What’s left? Just a core that contains your essential apps and your critical data. You could conceivably just carry a small brick around, that is your computing core, and have it seamlessly adapt to your pre-defined computing environments. One might have an ultralight notebook chassis with a 14inch screen for travel; a beefed up desktop unit for the office and a silent SFF PC for the home. Your core is what contains your user profile and OS and authentication; biometrics keep it secure from anyone else’s use but yours. The bulk of your data remains accessible securely over the internet, by hooking up your master data store to a router with fixed IP and using strong encryption and VPN connections.

I’m sure this isn’t an original thought. Still, bears thinking about the advantages over the modern era. At the very least you’d only need to buy one copy of Windows 🙂