At the conclusion of their NVISION 08 visual computing conference, NVIDIA pulled together a few members of the press the reveal some very interesting news regarding SLI and Intel's upcoming X58 chipset platform for future Nehalem microarchitecture-based processors, aka Core i7.
Up until this announcement, NVIDIA had only planned to support SLI on the X58 with motherboards that also featured their NF200 chip, much as they did with Skulltrail, as NVIDIA had no plans to produce chipsets for Intel's QuickPath Interconnect (QPI). But as of now, NVIDIA will be supporting SLI natively on the X58 chipset as well, provided the motherboard goes through an NVIDIA certification process.
NVIDIA Enables SLI On The Intel X58 Chipset
Through the flexibility of the X58 chipset's PCI Express lane configuration and the NF200 switch that may be used on some upcoming X58 motherboards, a number of different slot configurations will be supported for two- and three-way SLI support. The various slot and PCI Express lane configurations possible that will be supported by NVIDIA are illustrated in the slides above.
NVIDIA plans to certify motherboards in their Santa Clara certification lab, and if the board passes, they will provide approval keys that will ultimately be integrated into the motherboard's BIOS. The keys will be detected during the driver installation process along with device IDs so that SLI can be enabled. SLI will not work on X58 motherboards that have not passed the certification process or do not feature the necessary keys in the BIOS.
We'll be talking with NVIDIA on this development soon. We think this is a great thing for enthusiasts obviously, but wonder how this will affect NVIDIA's chipset business and SLI strategy in the long run. Should the necessary BIOS keys be ripped from an approved BIOS and integrated into the BIOS of an X48 motherboard by an enterprising modder, for example, that could present a real challenge for NVIDIA. Until all of this shakes out though, we're just glad that NVIDIA has made this decision and that enthusiasts eager for Nehalem now have even more flexibility when choosing their preferred graphics configuration.