High-end system maker Alienware reportedly released a document that demonstrates advantages of its Video Array technology that allows two PCI Express x16 graphics cards to work in collaboration. The paper showcases about 77% speed improvement in modes when typical graphics cards cannot run really fast.
GameSpot web-site reports about a document presumably sent to some press that covers 3DMark03 performance numbers of an Alienware system equipped with two Intel Xeon 3.40GHz processors and one or two NVIDIA GeForce 6800 graphics cards. The dual-GeForce 6800 system outperformed the single graphics card system by approximately 77%, scoring 3105 points versus 1758 points in 1600x1200 with 8x FSAA and 8x anisotropic filtering enabled. In 1600x1200 resolution with 8x anisotropic filtering activated, the dual graphics cards solution showed a 42% improvement, scoring 8538 against the single card system’s 5992.
Alienware Touts ALX, Video Array, X2
Alienware recently disclosed plans to make luxurious “ALX” gaming personal computers with overclocked or exclusively designed components. Eventually the ALX systems will be able to handle two high-end PCI Express graphics cards for extreme performance in conventional 3D games. The most advanced versions of ALX PCs that are slated for release in Q4 2004 will come with Intel Tumwater-based X2 mainboard featuring 2 PCI Express x16 slots and will allow installation of two identical graphics cards into one PC.
Alienware’s Video Array technology is claimed to be proprietary, patent-pending, has nothing to do with existing techniques, e.g. 3dfx SLI and requires no driver support from graphics cards makers. The dual graphics cards systems were designed to be standalone using Alienware’s Video Array (including software and merger hub) and X2 mainboard.
Video Array Technology divides the screen in multiple parts, in contrast to 3dfx’s SLI that required every single line to be rendered by different graphics card. In the case of using two video cards, the screen is divided, vertically, in two parts: one video card renders the upper section, and the second video card renders the lower section.
The X2 mainboards will be based on Intel E7525 (Tumwater) core logic and besides 2 PCI Express x16 slots as well as 2 sockets for CPUs will also support dual-channel DDR2 memory, Serial ATA ports with RAID capability, PCI-X support, Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio.
Ultimate Speed at Ultimate Cost?
Alienware keeps silence over the pricing of its ultimate systems with two processors and two graphics cards. Typical machines for extreme gamers from Alienware cost about $3000. The first flavours of ALX systems with single microprocessor and one graphics card cost over $5000. Systems with two processors and two graphics cards are likely to cost considerably more: high-end Xeon DP chips intended for 2-way systems typically cost from $851 to $1043 each. High-end graphics cards usually cost $399 or $499 each.