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ATI's technology that would allow two or more graphics cards in a personal computer to render a single frame in 3D games in parallel thus increasing performance and quality may be discussed later this month during WinHEC show in Seattle, Washington.

“PCI Express is also returning the graphics subsystem to a general-purpose, highly scalable interface, which brings new opportunities to scale graphics performance by adding additional graphics cards to a system. Today, graphics industry leaders NVIDIA and ATI are offering graphics solutions that leverage the power of multiple GPUs in a single system,” reads a description of the session called “PCI Express: Spurring New Ideas in Graphics”.

“There is nothing new… We’ve been doing dual GPU for a long time. Right now there are E&S systems with 16 ATI GPUs in it,” an ATI spokesperson said when asked for comment.

It is not exactly clear what will be discussed during the panel intended for system designers and listed among other Directions for Desktop and Mobile Systems tracks.

The multi-GPU technology from ATI will have a number of fundamental shifts from technologies of this kind, sources close to ATI said late last year. The main thing ATI was working on is how to enable two different graphics cards to work in pair, providing enhancements to gamers who use the technology. In early 2005 ATI indicated to its partners that the technology did not require any physical connectors between the cards, but also noted that two identical graphics cards have to be installed. Some sources close to the company also said that ATI’s multi-VPU technology is concentrated on improving image quality on the first place rather than adding substantial performance boost over single-VPU configurations.

NVIDIA’s SLI is a technology that enables two NVIDIA-based 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 SLI technology only allows two very similar graphics cards to work in parallel, which puts some restrictions with deployment of multi-GPU graphics sub-systems by end-users.

Timeframe when ATI Technologies is likely to offer its Multi Rendering is unclear. But some sources with knowledge of the matter said the introduction is likely to happen shortly. 

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