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According to multiple listings on eGPU chassis, like this one, M1 Macbooks are not supported.

I have two questions, are any supported? And if not, why? Is this a limitation of the software that could be circumvented by installing Linux on the metal? Or is this limitation on the hardware? It seems weird that the only machine that doesn't support (work with) a single eGPU is the M1 Macbook.


By support I mean "work" not official support by Apple

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  • Which ones have you looked at? List them so if people look they won't waste time duplicating the effort.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 13, 2023 at 16:28
  • As for a reason why any manufacturer does not > development time, cost, hardware limitations or in progress for next year.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 13, 2023 at 16:30
  • Given the fundamental role of Unified Memory on the SoC, it's extremely doubtful.
    – benwiggy
    Mar 13, 2023 at 16:58

1 Answer 1

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Per Sonet Technologies website, silicon Macs do not support eGPUs:

  • Mac (M1/M2 series) computers do not support eGPUs

This is also backed up by Apple; Use an external graphics processor with your Mac

It’s also important to remember that the GPU for Apple silicon is part of the whole SoC; it’s not attached to the PCIe Bus.

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Given this fact, it’s likely the drivers are vastly different for Apple silicon versus Intel.

Mac hardware and GPU software drivers have always been deeply integrated into the system… Because of this deep system integration, only graphics cards that use the same GPU architecture as those built into Mac products are supported in macOS.

Since no eGPU is built on the same architecture as Apple silicon, there are no drivers for it.

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  • it's not clear to me why any of that would matter. If the Thunderbolt lane has the throughput why can't an external GPU be attached to it? You're showing a model of the SOC. But what would that have to do with an external GPU that didn't use any of it other than the Thunderbolt bus. Mar 13, 2023 at 18:06
  • Because the GPU on Intel Macs use the PCIe bus to interface with the CPU. Thunderbolt carries PCIe signaling - it’s an extension of the bus. Apple silicon uses a completely different architecture and doesn’t interface the GPU over PCIe.
    – Allan
    Mar 13, 2023 at 18:10
  • I gotcha, but why does that matter. I don't care about how the GPU on the m1 is interfacing with the CPU. I care whether or not the platform can support an eGPU on the Thunderbolt bus. An external GPU: a GPU that is totally isolated from the on board GPU that's on the SOC. Mar 13, 2023 at 18:42
  • Since there’s no 3rd party GPU on Apple silicon (like NVIDIA), there are no drivers for these chips. No drivers means no support.
    – Allan
    Mar 13, 2023 at 18:56

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