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BlackMagic eGPU not just for HDMI and Thunderbolt 3 displays, but also for any USB-C monitor

The Blackmagic eGPU isn't just the first one to accelerate the Thunderbolt 3 LG Ultrafine 5K, but will boost any two displays that can connect to the unit with USB-C or HDMI.

2018 Apple MacBook Pro with Blackmagic eGPU



As with the rest of the external GPU units AppleInsider has examined, the BlackMagic eGPU connects through Thunderbolt 3, and is designed to connect to an external display for maximum performance boost. However, the Blackmagic one is the first that will accelerate a Thunderbolt 3 display without relying on hacks or other hardware workarounds

However, AppleInsider can confirm that a USB-C LG UltraFine 4K display plugged in downstream of the eGPU on the pass-through Thunderbolt 3 port is accelerated. The functionality is not just limited to USB-C native monitors, as a monitor connected to the port with a USB-C to DisplayPort cable is also accelerated.




Additionally, the Blackmagic eGPU will support a pair of monitors, with one plugged in to the HDMI 2.0 port on the device, and the second through the Thunderbolt 3 port either with a native Thunderbolt connection, or with a USB-C to HDMI or DisplayPort cable.

At the core of the improvement is the Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 chipset. While there are many changes between the previous chipset, Alpine Ridge, and the newer version, the Titan Ridge chipset allows a DisplayPort signal to be injected into the Thunderbolt 3 stream at any point in the chain, rather than just by the computer or an eGPU only able to send video to a monitor connected directly to the card.

The Titan Ridge chipset also explicitly allows a 8K display to run at 30Hz without compression, or at 60Hz when Display Stream Compression is used. However, the bandwidth is still limited to 40Gbit/sec, so two 5K monitors are still not able to be connected in a daisy-chain configuration.

One of the new Titan Ridge controller chips available from Intel is intended for peripherals, and would allow use cases like a Thunderbolt 3 RAID to connect to a USB 3.1 type C host at the slower speed allowed by USB 3.1. With Alpine Ridge, the Thunderbolt 3 RAID wouldn't connect to a USB 3.1 type C connector like those found on the MacBook at all.

Existing Alpine Ridge peripherals are compatible with Titan Ridge devices, and vice versa. So, even an Alpine Ridge 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro can connect to the Titan Ridge-equipped Blackmagic eGPU and use a display connected with one of the USB-C "alternate modes."

Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro line includes the Intel JHL7540 Titan Ridge controller.

The Blackmagic eGPU is available in select Apple stores now for $699, and is available from Apple.com as well.