NVIDIA's Multi-GPU Technology - SLI, it's baaack!
So the revival of SLI and another tidbit of 3dfx nostalgia is brought back to market by NVIDIA today. It again lends credence to NVIDIA's nimble move of acquiring the IP and other assets of 3dfx. The company is obviously still utilizing the technologies of their famed acquisition, while putting a refreshed leading edge spin on it, with new available technologies like PCI Express. Obviously, NVIDIA had this capability planned for a long while now, with the inclusion of the MIO port in their new line of NV4X GPUs. It seems we are learning more and more what all those 222 million transistors are doing in the NV40 and 45, beyond just its 16 parallel processing pixel pipelines. Who knew when the company claimed their architecture was "highly scalable", that it was scalable at the chip level, as well as board to board.
For the crew here at HotHardware, we've got a twinge of that special feeling we had back in the days of 3dfx, when 3D Graphics were still being pioneered and you felt like something totally innovative was on the horizon. Perhaps this will be a nicheproduct and configuration, with only a small segment of the end user market having the bankroll to shell out over a thousand greenbacks for a pair of Geforce 6800 Ultras in SLI. Not to mention the new motherboard, CPU and most likely the new power supply needed to support all this new hardware. On the other hand consider a pair of GeForce 6800 GT cards, in single slot designs, at a sub $400 price point. If you've already made the move to Intel's new PCI Express driven platform, this could be a significantly more manageable proposition, especially as street prices begin to fall in the coming months. Most likely you'll still need to sell it a bit to the significant other, however!
The key is going to be the support hardware coming to market in the next few months. Motherboard and chipset configurations will help drive availability of this technology into the mainstream. Full systems based on NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU technology are expected to become available in the second half of 2004 from multiple PC and workstation manufacturers including:
Alienware – North America, Europe
Atelco Computer – Germany
Boxx Technologies – North America
Falcon Northwest – North America
Mouse Computer Japan (MCJ Co., LTD) – Japan
Network Technical – Sweden
Paradigit - Holland
Scan Computers - UK
TSUKUMO Co., Ltd. - Japan
UNITCOM INC - Japan
Velocity Micro – North America
ThirdWave Corporation - Japan
VoodooPC – North America
In addition, multiple add-in-card manufacturers will also be adopting the technology. These manufactures include:
Albatron Technology, Co. Ltd
ASUS Computer International
BFG Technologies, Inc.
Gainward Co., Ltd.
Gigabyte Technology, Co., Ltd.
Leadtek Research, Inc.
Palit Microsystems, Inc.
Pine, XFX, a Division of Pine
Prolink Computer Inc
We'll be sure to come back to you with coverage in the months ahead. NVIDIA plans to have boards available around the August time frame, so stay tuned for our full review.