by Anton Shilov
10/20/2008 | 11:51 PM
Manufacturers of motherboards will reportedly have to pay Nvidia a fixed sum for every mainboard unit in order to legally enable Nvidia’s SLI multi-GPU technology on Intel X58-based platforms, according to a media report.
According to a news-story by Expreview web-site, Nvidia will charge mainboard makers $5 per unit for SLI “license”. It is unclear whether the company also plans to charge manufacturers of motherboards for actual “certification” procedures of their Intel X58-based products. $5 per mainboard should not substantially affect end-user price, hence, SLI technology may become available on the vast majority of new platforms aimed at performance-hungry end-users.
At present only Nvidia nForce chipsets enable the company’s SLI multi-GPU technology, thus, users, who plan to utilize two or more Nvidia GeForce-based graphics cards to speed up their video games, have to acquire nForce-based mainboards, in spite of the fact that there are no technical limitations for SLI operation on third-party chipsets. Those, who use multi-GPU capable core-logic sets from AMD, Intel or other chipset vendors cannot use SLI technology, but may utilize competing ATI CrossFire array consisting of several ATI Radeon graphics cards by Advanced Micro Devices.
Since Nvidia does not have chipsets that are compatible with forthcoming Intel Core i7 products which promise to become popular among gamers, the company had to find new ways to enable its multi-GPU tech on non-nForce platforms. Even though there are no technical limitations on any chipsets that do not allow SLI technology to work efficiently, Nvidia decided to artificially create them.
Earlier this year Nvidia proposed to sell its nForce 200 PCI Express hubs to enable various SLI configurations, however, additional hubs cost money, up to $30 a unit, and dramatically increase complexity of mainboards, which is why many motherboard manufacturers started to complain about the idea. As a result, Nvidia outlined another plan: it will certify certain Intel X58-based mainboards for SLI compliance and will provide “approval keys that will be integrated into the system BIOS for boards that pass certification”. The company said that it will charge mainboard makers for SLI compliance.
Nvidia stresses that such certification is only valid for Intel X58-based mainboards.
Nvidia did not comment on the news-story.