Expansion Bay connector durability

@Adrian_Joachim Dude, please work on your language. To answer your question where I heard about it being a competitor, I read an article on EGPU.IO website yesterday in which this was mentioned, citation here: “OCuLink is a non-proprietary PCIe interface developed by PCI-SIG, the organization for standardization of the PCI interface and was designed to compete with Thunderbolt in 2012.” Link here: OSMETA GK01 OCuLink eGPU Review and Installation Guide | eGPU.io

Rest assured that I don’t just write stuff that I dream up in fora here. But please tone down the language, there are some people here that are just enthusiast consumers and don’t work in tech (in case you do). This forum should be a place where people can learn.

If you disagree with the statement, I get it. But that’s that.

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@Philam Yeah if egpu.io who tend to make actually pretty good content make those claims I can’t really fault you for believing that. The statement still does not make sense but that’s definitely not on you. Kinda expected better from egpu.io though. Sorry if my frustration about the statement came over as frustration about you.

Saying occulink was designed as a competitor to thunderbolt is like saying a forklift was designed as a competitor suv. Yeah they both have wheels and can drive around but they have wildly different goals and intended usecases.

In fairness egpus were more of an afterthought usecase for both interfaces, thunderbolt was meant for displays and fast storage and docks and stuff and occulink for storage and accelerators (which are sometimes gpus I guess but used very differently from what we’d think of an egpu). E-gpus were, at least until recently always 3rd party “hacks”(as in used outside the intended functionality), if there is pcie, someone will inevitably hook a gpu up to it, be it the wifi slot, a expresscard slot or a thunderbolt port and I do love that.


Anyways, with Thunderbolt 5 and USB 4.2, eGPUs should not need Oculink anymore, but until then (a year or two?) we are going to see Oculink in consumer hardware because it makes sense for eGPUs.

There is still a massive cost difference so if it actually catches on (that’s a big if) I can see occulink or something similar sticking around, at least for lower cost gaming focused systems, the re-drivers for at least the early gen tb5 interfaces are going to be brutally expensive so even if te interface part came for free with all the cpus (which is the case wit most intel and amd laptop cpus and usb4 right now) a lot of manufacturers would still leave it out in all but the high end options.

@Adrian_Joachim No worries. And thank you for the clarification, my “process” was to think EGPU.IO is generally trusted (by me) and that the page was very recently updated (which I took as “continuously fact checked” as well, so here we are). In any case, thanks for the background clarification.

These chats have helped me put the puzzle together on questions I had for a long time. I was some years ago really impressed with Razer engineering, and now framework took this place for me.

Given that the Framework CEO himself says this should work somehow and that he is a bit active apparently in some of these chats is a sign that really gives me hope for what’s to come. And of course many others here have similar plans.

I now believe I am not asking too much from this notebook, so hopes are up. Let’s see!

Everything before and after that blurb looked solid even in that article, that one sentence almost gives you whiplash with how nonsensical it is. Still a great resource but nobody is perfect.


Kinda bummed they didn’t break out a few spare pcie lanes on the 13 but I understand why.

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Yes, and that is why I said 1 or 2 years.

USB 4 version 2 (why not usb 5?..) has already been announced and it looks like the rumours said Thunderbolt 5 would be, just with optional parts (exactly like usb 4 is to TB4). So TB5 announcement has to be around the corner.

But even if Intel announces TB5 in a few months it might take up to a year to be seen in computers and then it will take even longer to get TB5/USB4v2 hubs, cables, eGPUs…

So yeah, Oculink has some time to fill the gap. But after TB5 is popularized I suspect Oculink will disappear again from commercial electronics.

Nah I think my argument still stands.

If occulink was to catch on for the egpu use case enough that at least some manufactureres actually have built in occulink ports it will continue being a thing even after usb 4.2(or whatever) or tb5 comes out because of the cost difference.

Just look at all the amd 6000 series laptop out there and check how many of them have usb4, it’s not a large proportion even if the chips come with most of the required parts already included. All you need is a re-driver and hooking it up properly. Looking at how bonkers the signaling rates for tb5 will have to be those re-drivers are going to be a lot more expensive than the already expensive usb4 ones.

Just hooking up some pcie lanes from the cpu to an occulink connector is not free but a lot cheaper and even if you wanted to do it nicely and add a (much cheaper but still kinda expensive) pcie re-driver to the port (which is not required but helps, especially with longer cables) it will still be a lot cheaper to implement.

If however the egpu use-case remains a very small niche there is a good chance it’ll indeed “disappear” again once tb5 shows up. By disappear I mostly refer to return to the state it is now with a few small entrepreneurs using it.

The coolest outcome would be if pci sig actually did design a standard for consumer external pcie (with authentication and maybe even power and hotplug) but I highly doubt that. PCI sig is very much server first and trickle down from there.

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This is exactly the reason for my plan forward.

Shared on Reddit:

That is the rated durability of an off the shelf connector from the same supplier. Two notes on this:

  1. We’re developing our own semi-custom connector with the supplier specifically to make it better for end-user handling.
  2. The cycle life in datasheets is rarely comprehensive. We’ve had instances where the datasheet on a connector (I think it was a pogo connector) said 100 cycles, and we asked the supplier to retest to 2000 cycles and found the connector passed that too.

Will the connector be available for purchase in the marketplace as a stand-alone piece or is it built into the mainboard?

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The only connector is a flex cable with some pins to interface between motherboard and expansion bay, it also shouldn’t wear out.

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Pre-order already done ;). If the expansion bay even has a good connector durability, man, this notebook is getting flawless.


@nrp Thank you for the update on this, truly love having this information available and what you all are doing for the tech community!


Is there any way we could get a statement on if frequently changing expansion bays is a possibility? It seems implied in the configuration page when pre-ordering the laptop that it’s possible:

But it may put some of our minds at ease if there was an official statement on if it’s safe to be changing these frequently - I’m personally getting the 16 to use in university and was considering getting both in order to change for portability when taking the laptop to class, but it’d be nice to know whether or not changing the expansion bay multiple times a week is something I can do without risk of damage.

@Owen The Expansion Bay System is on the list of planned deep dives. We may get more information on swapping then. Past deep dives can be found here frame.work/blog/category/hardware

People have asked for more information on Expansion bay swapping (as well as other things), but it does not seem Framework is ready to provide more at this time. The deep dives have been how they are releasing more information.

@MJ1 I didn’t think about the deep dives! The ones we’ve gotten so far have been very detailed, so I expect we’ll get some really nice information in that one. Hopefully we get all of our questions answered!

I would honestly not be surprised if the deep dive on the expansion bay comes last. The good sign here would be that it shows FW is aware how essential it is for the entire product. My feeling is the FW 16 is a bit like a formula 1 race car being still tested, discussed and checked by busy engineers/suppliers/team etc. until shortly before putting it on the track ;).

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Because they are likely not completely finalised by the fact that there has been GitHub commits very recently in the Expansion bay repo

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There’s also a pending deep dive labeled “Connectors”. :thinking: