Amid the hubbub over the introduction of the GeForce 6600 line and the GeForce 6600GT’s ability to work in an SLI configuration, folks from NVIDIA were dropping hints like mad at Quakecon about the company’s plans for its next-gen Athlon 64 chipset with PCI Express support. NVIDIA is obviously working on a north bridge chip that will allow dual PCI Express graphics slots, and the company is confidently predicting SLI performance markedly superior to the dual Xeon-based motherboards that are powering the first SLI demo systems.
This confidence suggests that, just maybe, NVIDIA already has this chipset working well enough to measure its performance. Of course, we’ve already seen how the NVIDIA has been able to optimize its chipsets and GPUs to work together, and we may be in for more of the same with the next nForce. The Athlon 64’s exceptional performance in gaming and graphics benchmarks probably won’t hurt, either. I’d expect SLI-ready mobos based on the new NVIDIA chipset to cost a fraction of the price of dual Xeon boards, as well.
Once SLI arrives in force, one burning question would-be upgraders will have to debate is whether to opt for a single GeForce 6800GT card or grab a pair of GeForce 6600GTs and run them in SLI. I’d place my bets on the GeForce 6800GT being the better option all around, but folks from NVIDIA said performance between the two options was very close.