NVIDIA hints at SLI chipset plans

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.

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    • Namarrgon
    • 16 years ago

    Is it necessary for nVidia to provide explicit support for a second gfx slot? Or is it just a matter of the mobo manufacturer routing some of the PCIe lanes that way?

    It’s already known that the nForce4 has 32 PCIe lanes. Take 16 for your primary slot plus 8 for the second (a la the existing Xeon chipset), and that still leaves enough for a couple of quite decent x4 slots to go with some legacy PCI and PCI-X slots.

    I saw (at AMD’s SIGGRAPH stand) an Iwill dual Opteron board based on nForce4, with an x16 gfx slot and a single x4 slot (along with some PCI-X and PCI slots, not to mention 4 DIMM slots per CPU, direct-connected 4-way SATA RAID – and Soundstorm 2?) AFAIK it would be no great difficulty to change a couple of PCI-X slots for an x8 and an x4 slot, thus providing my dream mobo…

    • Occupant
    • 16 years ago

    If they make a chipset for SLI, they should put 48 PCI-E lanes into the chipset, -at least 48- to allow for other high speed devices….

      • Namarrgon
      • 16 years ago

      Perfect – if you need SLI *and* 2 x GigE NICs, two dual channel U320 SCSI HAs (with your 4-way SATA RAID), 64-channel play/record 24/192 audio and an uncompressed HD-SDI 2K/HiDef video board while still having an x4 slot and the odd PCI slot left over for future expansion…

      For the rest of us, 32 lanes will probably be enough 🙂 At least until SLI configs start to actually require dual symmetrical x16 slots.

        • HiggsBoson
        • 16 years ago

        The problem with that is…. if you keep doing that there comes a point where the concurrent IO in the system might be greater than the FSB of the proc… in the case of a P4 at 800MHz bus (6.4GB/sec) that’s just 25.6 lanes of PCI-E. At that point, there’s no point in going any higher, IMHO.

          • Occupant
          • 16 years ago

          Yes, make it possible to connect the devices, they maybe starved for bandwidth, but atleast they’ll function…

          I was thinking, you could have your 2 16x cards for sli, then an 8x slot, and 2 4x slots… Because cards can downgrade a slot, but are not upgradeable… So a 1x sound card, would still work in the 4x slot (or even the 8x slot) but a 4x or 8x card will not work in a 1x slot…

          • Namarrgon
          • 16 years ago

          Well, your cards could transfer to each other – e.g. your HiDef video board could DMA directly from/to your U320 SCSI host adapter without involving your CPU.

          And being PCIe , it’s point-to-point, and thus doesn’t saturate the rest of your bus 🙂

            • Occupant
            • 16 years ago

            I just dont want to have a limited system, where I would be dependent on the onboard raid controller, and perhaps onboard lan… I could add in my own cards as I see fit. (esp for the Raid controller, as most onboards only do raid 0 or 1.)

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 16 years ago

    it’s the same ‘ole dually debate the has always been there
    2xslower opterons or 1 faster p4
    i still say stick with the faster single component

      • GodsMadClown
      • 16 years ago

      Is this the same logic that compels you to compare a P4 with an Opteron?

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 16 years ago

        ok well athlong mp’s versus xp’s….that better?

          • wierdo
          • 16 years ago

          No, you must now go to Lowes, buy a large hammer, paint it green, paint yer nuts blue, and bash nuts with hammer seven times while yelling AMD!

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 16 years ago

            Intel Intel Intel Intel Intel Intel Intel

            /says the guy w/ an athlonxp2800@11×200 😀

            • wierdo
            • 16 years ago

            lol doh! 😉

    • Captain AMD
    • 16 years ago

    Damn, I’m still waiting to see how they are going to manage the power requirements with 2 of those hogs in a single rig.

      • dukerjames
      • 16 years ago

      Dual Power Supply is the new trend! 🙂

      • Corrado
      • 16 years ago

      I doubt you’ll need more than a say… 430W to run 2 6600GT’s.

        • lethal
        • 16 years ago

        yeah, maybe.. but there’s still the option of using a sli array consisting of 2 GF6800 Ultra extreme cards… I’m not sure if your 430 W PS could handle that with a dual xeon configuration 🙂

          • wierdo
          • 16 years ago

          ah, but SLI power supplies can!

            • lethal
            • 16 years ago

            SLI-ck idea XD

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