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Even though leading suppliers of graphics technologies – ATI Technologies and Nvidia Corp. – put a lot of efforts into promoting their multi-GPU technologies, such as CrossFire or SLI, according to a survey by X-bit labs, minority of computer enthusiasts actually use more than one graphics board.

The majority of users (54%) use single-GPU configuration according to their needs, but not necessarily high-end graphics processing units (GPUs). Another huge group of people (31%) use utilize high-end graphics cards, those, which usually cost $299 and beyond. Those two groups represent 85% of computer enthusiasts, the main auditory of X-bit labs.

About 5% of computer users have two high-end graphics boards in their PCs from ATI or Nvidia with the majority of them using graphics cards powered by Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra GPUs or higher-speed options from the Santa Clara, California-based chip designer. Another 54 people (or roughly 2%) out of 2500 questioned used a pair of mainstream or low-end graphics cards in SLI or CrossFire multi-GPU mode.

But multi-GPU technologies may have higher market share in the future, as 7% of respondents plan to acquire a multi-GPU setup as time goes by and those technologies become more mature or affordable.

Right now users have to acquire a special motherboard and two fairly expensive graphics cards to built a multi-GPU system, or an already assembled personal computer from companies like Alienware or Voodoo PC, which usually cost $3000 or more. Not all games tend to take advantage of those multi-GPU graphics setups, moreover, very few games actually provide tangible benefits to owners of multi-GPU graphics sub-systems. Pricing, the lack of visible advantages and potential driver issues seem to be the most significant obstacles for multi-GPU market expansions.

X-bit labs polled 2500 of its readers in the first half of September, 2006.

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