Having made graphics cards able to work in Multi-GPU mode thanks to SLI technology available and standing close to commercially release a core-logic that simplifies and enhances systems with two graphics cards, NVIDIA Corp. announced a program to certify hardware supposed to deliver SLI Multi-GPU technology to end-users.
The NVIDIA SLI certification process includes complex testing and analysis to ensure electrical, mechanical, and thermal compatibility. For PC system integrators, NVIDIA will check thermal measurements and ensure additional shock, power, and vibration tests are conducted on multiple components, including hard drives, fans, and power supplies. For application developers who wish to tune their applications to run best under SLI configurations, NVIDIA is providing performance tools and a complete SLI development system that allow their content to take advantage of additional detail levels and resolutions not previously available to single GPU systems.
Under this new program, products may earn one of two NVIDIA SLI certification logos. The “NVIDIA SLI Ready” logo is for use with components such as SLI-based graphics cards, and SLI-capable motherboards, including those based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI technology. The “NVIDIA SLI” logo is for use with systems that have SLI-based graphics cards pre-installed with an NVIDIA SLI-Ready mainboard and all the appropriate drivers.
NVIDIA’s SLI is a technology that enables two similar NVIDIA-based PCI Express graphics cards to operate in a single workstation or PC delivering higher graphics horsepower. A special mainboard with two PCI Express x16 is required for such configuration. According to NVIDIA’s estimates, typical performance advantage dual NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra bring is about 75% - 80% when operating on a system running NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset that boasts special enhancements for Multi-GPU technology.
NVIDIA’s approach requires special circuitry to be incorporated into GPUs and, for extra speed gain, into core-logic. Alienware’s Video Array technology, that also allows to plug two graphics cards into single desktop, does not require any special logic to be incorporated into graphics or system chips. NVIDIA’s arch-rival ATI Technologies is also preparing Multi-VPU capability, but the details are unclear.