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ASUSTeK Computer, a leading supplier of mainboards and notebooks, began to sell its A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboards based on NVIDIA’s nForce4 SLI core-logic during the weekend in Tokyo, Japan. Leading e-tailers around the USA are currently taking orders on the product, while ASUS’ spokespersons from Europe anticipate first supplies of the A8N-SLI Deluxe shortly.

ASUS Brings First PCI Express AMD64 Platform

ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard is currently the first mainboard for AMD64 processors in PGA939 form-factor that sports PCI Express bus and also NVIDIA’s Multi-GPU SLI technology. The mainboard is equipped with plethora of modern technologies and interconnections, including 2 PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards, 2 PCI x1 slots, 3 PCI slots, 4 Serial ATA-150 with RAID support and 4 Serial ATA-300 ports, 2 Parallel ATA-33/66/100/133, 2 Gigabit Ethernet connectors, 10 USB 2.0 ports, 2 FireWire ports, 8-channel audio and so on. Additionally, the mainboard features all the latest technologies from ASUS, including AI NOS, AI NET2, PEG link, as well as plethora of overclocking enhancements.

The A8N-SLI Deluxe mainboard is sold for $207 - $251 in Tokyo, Japan, according to Akiba PC Hotline web-site. In the USA the mainboard may be pre-ordered for $255 - $398. Typically prices in Japan as well as pre-order prices on highly-anticipated products are higher compared to general retail prices of the same products, but when they are available widely.

ASUS nForce4 SLI - Certified

Partners of NVIDIA Corp. were rumoured to delay NVIDIA nForce4 SLI mainboards till late December – early January, however, both ASUS’ and NVIDIA’s reps said the A8N-SLI Deluxe would be available in mid-December, which proved to be correct.

“From my perspective, it looks like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte will all have SLI certified boards available in December as they are all in mass-production. System builders are queuing up for their pre-order demands too, now that they have boards to test and validate,” Bryan Del Rizzo, a spokesman for NVIDIA Corp. said.

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.

“ASUS’ nForce4 SLI mainboard is already certified by NVIDIA for SLI operation. This would indicate that their board, for all practical purposes, is SLI ready to go. If they are still tweaking BIOSes, that is their prerogative since it is their product. Mainboard makers also have other factors to finalize: box packaging, manuals, drivers, shipping, etc. that could also have an impact on when boards hit the channel,” Mr. Del Rizzo explained X-bit labs.

NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Comes First

NVIDIA nForce4 core-logic is NVIDIA’s latest media and communication processor for AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Sempron series of central processing units. The nForce4-series chipsets are among the first PCI Express chipsets that sport all currently available and yet-to-be-released microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices, including AMD Athlon 64 FX, AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Sempron chips with 1000MHz HyperTransport bus. The nForce4 Ultra and SLI product series also offer an array of technologies designed to make computing more secure, efficient and rapid, such as NVIDIA RAID, NVIDIA ActiveArmor firewall, NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet, Serial ATA-300 and other important technologies, like USB 2.0, FireWire, 8-channel AC’97 audio and so on.

Santa Clara, California-based NVIDIA positions its nForce4 products according to the needs of various markets: nForce4 SLI is designed for hardcore gamers, it sports all the latest processors and even contains enhancements for NVIDIA’s multi-GPU technology SLI; nForce4 Ultra is developed with high-end desktops and workstations in mind: it sports every capability advertised by NVIDIA, but cannot power systems with two graphics cards; nForce4 is targeted at OEMs and system integrators, lacks advanced security capabilities and support for SLI and Serial ATA-300.

NVIDIA’s nForce4 SLI is currently one of the world’s most-advanced core-logic products in terms of functionality and the company wants it to be the first-to-market among the nForce4-series products.

NVIDIA’s SLI is a technology that enables two NVIDIA GPU-based graphics cards to operate in a single workstation or PC delivering higher graphics horsepower. A special mainboard with two PCI Express x16 slots is required for such configuration. According to NVIDIA’s estimates, typical performance advantage dual NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra setup brings 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.

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