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Requirements for Dual Graphics Cards Configurations

In case everything is so good about the Symmetric Multi Rendering and Scalable Link Interface technologies, what will be required from users to have dual graphics card configuration at home in addition two NVIDIA GeForce 6-series graphics cards?

Initially power-hungry users will have to buy workstation components or special workstation or gaming machines to enjoy the power of two GeForce 6-series graphics cards. Desktop chipsets available this Summer and Fall from Intel, VIA Technologies and Silicon Integrated Systems are unlikely to support two PCI Express x16 ports for graphics cards. The only core-logic that has support for PCI Express x16 + PCI Express x8 ports is Intel’s E7525 also known as Tumwater designed for workstations. The core-logic itself costs $100, which leads to assume that mainboards based on the chipset will be priced in the range of $350 to $500 or even higher.

Intel E7525-based mainboard

In addition to a workstation mainboard for Intel’s newly announced Xeon processors users will have to acquire a Xeon chip (or two) with 800MHz processor system bus, a pair of DDR2 400MHz memory modules and, most probably, a special computer case along with a special and very powerful power supply unit to feed the graphics cards as well as the rest of the system.

All of such components will bring the pricing range of a system with two graphics cards to about $4000 - $5000 or so. Such price-point is typical for workstations, but not for desktops, though, quite some PC makers expressed intention to produce such systems. In the workstation segment dual-Quadro graphics cards are likely to be a very desirable and not that expensive option.

Two NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards in SLI/SMR configuration

Acquiring a Xeon system for gaming is not something loads of end users would do, as such computers are more tailored for work rather than for entertainment. Furthermore, even getting such system with one graphics card aiming to get another one afterwards (the pattern a lot of enthusiasts used with the “dual” Voodoo2 SLI) requires significant investment into the platform and CPU (while a pair of Voodoo2 boards could be installed into any PC), which may slowdown sales of gaming machines with two graphics cards.

A more user-friendly option from the price point of view will be brought by NVIDIA itself in the fourth quarter of the year. The company will release its NVIDIA nForce4 chipset that will sport two slots for PCI Express graphics cards and will be compatible with the desktop infrastructure, meaning significant cost reduction compared to the Intel Xeon platforms. In case NVIDIA succeeds, end-users will be able to get desktop computer at desktop price-point with one GeForce 6-series graphics card and add another card in future. The only thing end-users should be worried about is powerful and quality PSU.

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