Gigabyte GV-3D1 graphics card boasted a very innovative design for the time when it appeared: there were two GeForce 6600GT chips on a single PCB together with 512MB of GDDR3 graphics memory. The graphics cards just started getting through the “SLI Ready” certification, when the 3D1 offered the user this brilliant opportunity to acquire not just a better value alternative to a pair of regular GeForce 6600GT graphics cards, but also guaranteed absence of any compatibility issues. In fact, the compatibility with the mainboard this graphics card was to work with turned out not completely flawless. Gigabyte claimed that GV-3D1 will work only with their bundled mainboard. In reality, however, some experiments showed that this solution can also work with a third-party mainboard as well. This only exception appeared ASUS A8N-SLI.
ASUS has also been mentioned in our News as the developer of the EN6600GT Dual graphics card prototype, which differed from Gigabyte GV-3D1 not only by the location of the components on the PCB, but also by the ability to join two graphics cards of the kind in a single system via SLI mode. A little bit later, one of the sources close to NVIDIA revealed that the support of four graphics chips for the SLI mode will soon be introduced in the drivers. NVIDIA in their turn announced the new nForce4 Pro chipset representing hardware implementation of this idea via the “PCI Express x16 + PCI Express x16” mode.
Today the Chinese HardSpell site posted a photo of the graphics card from ASUS composed of two NV45 chips (GeForce 6800 Ultra) and 512MB of GDDR3 memory:
According to this site, this graphics card is currently going through the testing stage and can be announced in the nearest future. Moreover, ASUS’ official reps refused to comment on the specifications of this card as well as on the anticipated release date. In fact, there is nothing to be surprised at: the above mentioned ASUS EN6600GT Dual also hasn’t made it yet to the mass market.
If you take a closer look at the PCB design on the picture above, you will undoubtedly notice how long and wide the board is. They managed to make it a little bit shorter by placing the voltage regulator circuitry above the second chip. There you can also see two 6-pin connectors for additional power supply.
The width of the PCB can also be a cause for concern: it is very hard to install a card like that inside a regular system case. Here I don’t even dare speak about the convenient location of the cooling system. However, I assume that the final version of this solution may have pretty different design.
Gigabyte already considered the possibility of releasing a graphics card with two GeForce 6800 GT or GeForce 6800 Ultra chips a while ago. Moreover, MSI also did a survey trying to find out how the market would react to a dual-chip graphics card. But the most interesting info about this tendency was received only today: our reliable sources close to NVIDIA claim that that company does approve the use of dual-chip PCB designs and four-chip system configurations. I really doubt that we will see four chips on a single PCB, but NVIDIA’s favoring this idea is definitely very pleasing.
Now that the situation with the opponent to the ATI R520 is still very uncertain, I wouldn’t overlook the fact that NVIDIA might want to go for dual-chip NV45 based solutions. NV45 modification supporting 512MB of graphics memory also known as NV48 is another option for this position. However, from the performance point of view there should be something more powerful to compete with ATI R520. Dual-chip solutions based on NV45 GPU can be a perfect way-out. Especially, since NVIDIA invests a lot of money and effort into the SLI concept, and the release of NV50 is scheduled only for the end of this year.
I believe that CeBIT show which starts tomorrow will help raise the curtain of mystery over this situation, so stay tuned for our daily CeBIT Coverages and you will be the first one to find out the exciting details about all this! :)