Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tech Link (Graphics): ASUS XG Station Preview

vr-zone has a cool preview of the Asus* XG-Station I posted sometime ago. Though nothing new has been shared, it's great to know that it'll go mass production and will be available next quarter (Q2). It will initially launched bundled with a graphics card to avoid compatibility issues. Expand for more...

When XG Station, the world's first external graphics for notebooks from ASUS made their first appearance over at CES back in January, it has stirred up huge interests from the media and consumers. This time round, ASUS plans to demo a more finalized version of their XG Station over at the upcoming CeBIT but the feature set remains the same as before.

XG1 is able to accommodate a double slot graphics card that requires up to 150W power (GeForce 8800GTS is possible we heard), supports 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 5.1 audio channels with Dolby headphones technology, real-time adjustment of GPU clocks, volume control, LCD display of GPU temperature, fan speed and games FPS.

At start, ASUS plans to bundle and sell the EN7900GS graphics card together with XG1 to avoid any compatibility issues but there are plans for selling XG1 alone without graphics card at a later date. Currently, Magma Electronics has a similar offering called ExpressBox that sells for a hefty US$729 but it doesn't come with features like USB, audio and LCD display features. Not to worry as we heard that the XG1 will be available at a very competitive and reasonable price.

Although XG1 possess some really neat features but it still has its downsides like limited bandwidth and requires external display. Since XG1 is linked up to the notebook through the ExpressCard slot, therefore the graphics card slotted into the PCIe x16 slot inside the XG1 has a reduced bandwidth from full x16 (4GB/s in each direction) to just x1 (250MB/s in each direction). Certainly graphics and video performance will suffer a considerable hit. Also another downside is that XG1 needs to be hooked up to a display monitor since there is no video-in capability in the current notebooks so you can't play games on your notebook screen.

XG1 will be entering mass production in April and retail availability in May timeframe.

What's Next?
To really make an impact in the market, ASUS will have to solve the two tricky issues facing XG1 currently. Some good news to cheer about is that ASUS's strong R&D has made a major breakthrough recently and alleviate the problems completely. The next generation XG Station will have full x16 bandwidth, smaller form factor and is able to output to notebooks for display. ASUS also plans to adopt the cabled PCI Express specs for their future XG Station. However, we can't go into details right now so stay tuned for more announcements from ASUS in the near future.

Source:ASUS XG Station Preview

No comments: