NVIDIA To Support SLI On Intel X58 Chipset

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News Posted: Thu, Aug 28 2008 2:51 PM

NVIDIA Taps GPUs For More Than GraphicsAt 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.
 

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 3:09 PM

>> "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." <<

I don't think so. The keys are there strictly so that NVidia's partners won't have to waste time and money RMAing video cards that users think are buggy because the motherboard is incapable of supporting a SLI configuration.

If a modder rips the keys and puts them on an X48, more power to him - just don't expect support from NVidia or your card manufacturer if something doesn't work.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Marco C replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 3:12 PM
You're absolutely right about NVIDIA not supporting SLI on an X48, but what does it do to their chipset business if all of a sudden users can modify their system BIOS and enable SLI on any motherboard with the necessary PCI Express slots?

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 3:20 PM

Point taken.

I don't have any actual numbers, but I would think it's going to be a minimal few people that will pay for a SLI setup and skimp on the board (especially with the new processors around the corner requiring all new boards).  And, surely nVidia now has a new revenue stream certifying boards.  :)

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Marco C replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 3:28 PM
Of course there could be (and likely are) other measures in place to prevent such an easy mod to enable SLI, but the question still remains. We'll be talking to NVIDIA soon though and should have more answers soon.

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I could see many people modding boards. If all they have to do is get a 2nd video card instead of a new mobo and card then many might not care about support from nvidia.

 

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warlord replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 6:57 PM
Anyone remember the nvidia 400 chipsets. I had a dfi model which i still have to this day that wasn't sli certified and the pencil trick was the work around. Unless they have used a hardware solution to prevent such actions as a fail safe imho it could be possible with these boards. At least thats what i hope for.

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 8:37 PM

warlord:
Anyone remember the nvidia 400 chipsets..

 

I used to have one in my arcade cabinet!  I never tried the pencil trick.

 

Hey, I guess here's why I can't believe a lot of people would resort to hacking a board for SLI:  The last couple of boards I bought were both SLI capable.  I fully intended to eventually throw another card in there... but never did.

By the time I get ready to, NVidia's released some new card with more than twice the power, there's a much better CPU that won't work with my board, someone added a 1 to the latest DDR standard, etc....  So, to me, SLI's something you do if you're already using all the best components and you want to have the absolute best possible system.

I guess some other's might see it as a quick cheap upgrade path for an older system... but those people wouldn't be buying the latest SLI motherboard anyway, so it's not likely to cost nVidia any sales (IMHO).

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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warlord replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 9:07 PM

Depends imho because alot of the enthusiast offerings have had a hefty price tag but if budget boards offering the same with say 100 to 200 in saving you just got the second card on the savings alone. In effect you got a free a lunch and since alot of use are overclockers and modders at heart having the ability to spend the money in other performance orientated areas instead of certs makes better since.

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warlord:

Depends imho because alot of the enthusiast offerings have had a hefty price tag but if budget boards offering the same with say 100 to 200 in saving you just got the second card on the savings alone. In effect you got a free a lunch and since alot of use are overclockers and modders at heart having the ability to spend the money in other performance orientated areas instead of certs makes better since.

I buy cheap parts with the intent of overclocking or hacking to get better performance. If there is a well known hack and I can save $100 on a mobo then I'm on it.

 

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 9:29 PM
You guys make a good case... I'm probably going to need to upgrade my kids computer soon - so look for me to be bugging you for opinions. :)

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Thats why were are here. Why pay more for the same performance.

 

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warlord replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 10:31 PM

The overclocking culture was born of the fact of getting more for less.

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http://hothardware.com/cs/forums/p/395/1578.aspx

Overclocking to old celly 300.

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warlord replied on Thu, Aug 28 2008 11:33 PM

Yes those where the days Wink

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shanewu replied on Fri, Aug 29 2008 11:20 AM
This is pretty cool news indeed. I can't wait to see what these boards are like. As testers, our lives might be a little easier cuz we can use one board for both CrossFire and SLI. :) Good stuff.

"...but wonder how this will affect NVIDIA's chipset business and SLI strategy in the long run."

That is something I'm also very interested in seeing how it plays out over the next year or two. Is NVIDIA shooting itself in the foot here? I doubt it, but on the surface, the possibility is hard to deny.

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warlord replied on Fri, Aug 29 2008 6:38 PM

Nvidia hasn't a choice in the matter. What Intel and Amd are doing is effectivelly locking nvidia out of the chipset bussiness

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I'm sure nvidia will make more off selling a 2nd graphics card than selling chipsets.

 

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warlord replied on Fri, Aug 29 2008 7:01 PM

Actually nivida was making like $35 a unit on chipsets. On selling the sli bridge they make 27 and there is no reall r&d to do so they are making better money. However as time goes by it will cost them face recognition with consumers whom might not notice them as chipset market was just that much more exposure. Coicidently thats the same reason that amd and intel are locking em out to limit said exposure

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When is the x58 chipset gng to be a reality!

 

 

 

 

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nimd4 replied on Sat, Jan 24 2009 7:11 PM

This kind of easy-modding should not be prevented. Only a tiny number of users will actually attempt it and it's a great joy.

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