Running multiple graphics cards in SLI or CrossFire was once a point of emphasis by NVIDIA and AMD, respectively, though not so much any more. Will that change NVIDIA's newly announced GeForce RTX cards? Here's the thing—both the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and GeForce RTX 2080 support NVLink to chain together two or more cards, but it appears the GeForce GTX 2070 does not.
A visit to each of the new card's product pages on NVIDIA's website essentially confirm this. There is an NVLink tab on the two higher end cards, but not on the more 'affordable' GeForce RTX 2070's product page. Furthermore, the NVLink description clearly leaves out the GeForce RTX 2070 while mentioning both of the pricier parts.
"The GeForce RTX NVLink bridge connects two NVLink SLI-ready graphics cards with 50X the transfer bandwidth of previous technologies. This means you can count on super-smooth gameplay at maximum resolutions with ultimate visual fidelity in GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 graphics cards," NVIDIA states.
There are two sizes available, one for 3-slot configurations and the other for 4-slot setups. Both cost $79.99 and are available to preorder (with a limit of one per customer). The question is, why is NVLink not supported on the GeForce RTX 2070?
The most obvious (albeit unconfirmed) answer is product differentiation. NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2070 is the least expensive card of the GeForce RTX family right now, starting at $499 for reference models and $599 for the overclocked Founders Edition. By limiting NVLink support to the higher end SKUs, NVIDIA creates another performance gap. Users who want to step up to a dual graphics card solution are looking at paying $699 per card, or higher, depending on the model.
Had NVIDIA gone the other route and enabled NVLink on the GeForce RTX 2070, users would be able to spend a grand on two cards and possibly have a setup that outperforms a single GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, which is the flagship consumer GPU. That would risk cannibalizing sales of the top end part.
It doesn't look like NVLink support on the GeForce RTX 2070 will be an option for custom models by NVIDIA's add-in board (AIB) partners, either. Shown above are Gigabyte's GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC (top) and GeForce RTX 2070 Gaming OC (bottom). If you look in the upper left corner, you can see that only the higher end model has the hardware for an NVLink Bridge.
NVIDIA did not really discuss NVLink during its GeForce event yesterday, and instead spent the majority of time touting real-time ray tracing. So, we will have to wait and see if NVIDIA offers up and official explanation.