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If rumours about Nvidia’s inability to get a license to produce Intel Common Serial Interface (CSI) bus compatible chipsets are correct, its multi-GPU technology SLI may either disappear from the market or Nvidia may change its SLI licensing policy and open up the technology for others.

At present Nvidia SLI multi-GPU systems may feature two, three or even four graphics processing units (GPUs) by Nvidia Corp. to speed up graphics rendering speed in games. One substantial peculiarity of Nvidia SLI multi-GPU technology is that several graphics cards have to be installed on a mainboard that is based on Nvidia nForce SLI core-logic.

Even though two graphics cards may technically function on any mainboard with any chipset provided that there are several PCI Express x16 slots, Nvidia does not allow system logic sets developed by companies like Advanced Micro Devices or Intel Corp. to power multi-GPU systems carrying two or more Nvidia GeForce-based add-in-cards. In order to enable SLI technology for its Intel Dual Socket Extreme Desktop Platform (DSEDP) Intel had to install certain PCI Express hub chips from Nvidia onto its Intel Desktop Board D5400XS mainboard. By contrast, ATI CrossFire and CrossFire X multi-GPU technologies that allow several ATI Radeon graphics cards to work in cooperation can be enabled on any third-party chipset, but not Nvidia’s (due to prohibition of Nvidia).

Nowadays enthusiasts of high-performance computers and gamers prefer central processing units (CPUs) by Intel due to their high performance. However, Intel does not allow third-party chipset developers to create and sell core-logic sets compatible with its processors without a special license. Currently Intel’s CPUs utilize AGTL+ quad-pumped processor system bus and various chipset designers have license to produce compatible chipsets. However, later this year Intel plans to introduce new so-called Common Serial Interface (CSI) bus for processors, which is similar to AMD’s HyperTransport, but also requires a license.

According to a news-story by The Inquirer web-site, Intel “is refusing to provide Nvidia with a vital piece of CSI technology”, which may indicate that Nvidia loses ability to produce Intel-compatible chipsets late in 2008, which may be a huge blow to Nvidia’s chipset business division.

With no in-house developed Intel-compatible chipsets, Nvidia will have to either allow SLI technology to function on third-party chipsets, or its multi-GPU technology will only function on chipsets supporting microprocessors by AMD, which currently cannot offer the same level of performance as Intel’s CPUs and are usually not gamers’ processors of choice. As a consequence, Nvidia SLI multi-GPU platform may find itself unpopular or may even cease to exist. On the other hand, even if Nvidia fails to get CSI license at any cost, the company may focus on creating graphics cards with several GPUs on them, which do not require any special chipsets.

Not a lot of gamers actually use multi-GPU technologies. Only about 1.5% of Half-Life 2/Counter Strike gamers had a multi-GPU personal computer (PC) with either two, three or four graphics processors, the stats at Steampowered web-site revealed last year. Nvidia’s SLI technology is clearly more popular than ATI’s CrossFire. Steam hardware survey indicated that there are about 96% multi-GPU systmes with two GeForce chips and only around 3.9% - 4.0% machines that feature two Radeon GPUs. According to a recent survey by X-bit labs, about 6% of end-users utilize a computer with two or more graphics cards.

Nvidia does not comment on unannounced products. Nvidia does not comment on business matters. Intel and Nvidia did not comment on the news-story.


Comments currently: 29
Discussion started: 02/22/08 02:05:06 PM
Latest comment: 04/21/08 09:22:41 AM
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Even though Nvidia is my GPU maker of choice, I would love to see Intel show them who is King of the Hill.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/22/08 02:05:06 PM]
- collapse thread

you might want to reconsider that unless you look forward to paying more in the future. This is not about SLI, this is about Intel positioning themselves to take over the discrete graphic card market with larrabee.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/23/08 12:23:42 PM]

I hope nSLI & Xfire choke.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/22/08 02:23:22 PM]
- collapse thread

I agree. Unless you make games or movies for a living, you would be a complete fool to buy into SLI or XFire. Less than 2% of the market is foolish enough to waste that kind of money on performance which is only slightly better than a single gpu.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/22/08 11:30:22 PM]

This seems good for AMD. Nvidia is stupid for not licensing SLI to Intel. They would have sold far more GPU's by now if they had. I know they're proud of their chipsets but C'MON! AMD can only gain from this.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/22/08 04:57:04 PM]
- collapse thread

If Nvidia and Intel hate each other so damn much, I wonder if this will prompt Nvidia to take a serious look at buying AMD. Dang...
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/23/08 01:17:17 PM]

I always thought sli and xfire was just a scheme to sell more cards to
people with $ to burn,similar to "extreme edition"cpu's.And 1 + 1 does
not = 2 performance-wise[more like 1.3% increase,not to mention
driver problems,software incompatibilities,etc.].Most of us are lucky
to afford one decent card.Hell I use an evga 8600gts and all but the
final boss level of Crysis averages 30 fps,albeit with an e6750 and
3 gigs of cheap Gskill ddr2-800 running XP.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/22/08 05:29:04 PM]
- collapse thread

You guys are talking without knowing.
I have a 3870x2 and one of my friend have 2 3870 Crossfire and in many game we have almost double performance.
Only few games doesnt scale verry well.

In supreme commander for example with 1 card I get arouind 50/60 fps with 2 card I hit 99fps (max fps for the game)
I really cant live without my crossfire configuration and people who say its providing only 5% increase are talking without event trying.
Only thing thats its true, its that it isnt perfect and there are some bug (flickering/textures flashing) but its getting a lot better with every driver release.
Its close to perfection now
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/23/08 12:12:17 AM]

"its multi-GPU technology will only function on chipsets supporting microprocessors by AMD, which currently cannot offer the same level of performance as Intel’s CPUs and are usually not gamers’ processors of choice"

Well thats right, but what would be faster?
Phenom 9600 + two 8800GT in SLI


Q6600 + one 8800GT

0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/24/08 05:05:40 AM]
- collapse thread

Better question to ask yourself would be:

Which of these platforms offers a better price to performance ratio?
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/24/08 08:53:33 AM]

Nvidia sux!

First they bought Voodoo and killled them off.
Next they bought ULi and killed themoff
Now they bought Ageia and killed them off by not selling a dedicated PPU, while forcing many to get a $500 dollar card just to have physics.

I know the GeForce 8 will support physics, but do you think a low-end geforce 8 card will have a better physics as a high-end Geforce 8 card? Most likely not, so therefore it's the same thing.

Nvidia bought Ageia and too killed it off.

Great for you Nvidia, which company are you going to buy next and then too killed them off.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/24/08 01:45:22 PM]

Hopefully this signals the end to the biggest ripoff in modern computing history ... some people fell for it though ... the notion that buying more graphics cards and stuffing them into your computer is acceptable.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/24/08 07:06:05 PM]
- collapse thread

how is better performance a rippoff ??

its a tradeoff.. and totally optional, unless you do need it for very high resolution gaming.
im still considering it, got a shiny new motherboard and PSU both SLI ready ;)
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/25/08 05:00:33 AM]
Let me break this down for you Silver as you're just not getting it.

While you were playing your video games, some grade school kids were learning about fractions and ratios.

In this case,
Value = Price / Performance.

This is why many computer savvy people purchase the Q6600 over the QX9770.
A little while back, some savvy computer gamers purchased the Nvidia 7900GT over the 7900GTX (top of the line at that time).

Moral of the story Silver:
Just because you can purchase the fastest parts doesn't necessarily mean you should.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/25/08 11:34:33 AM]
im not sure that the performance difference between 7900GT & GTX is as big as say 2x7900 GT, in a game that supports SLI and in the proper resolution and *bling mode=on* settings =)

"Just because you can purchase the fastest parts doesn't necessarily mean you should."

you can say the exact oposite of your above argument and its just as valid.
if you got the cash and feel the need or just want a little futureproofing.. then go for it.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/25/08 12:11:40 PM]


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