Gigabyte cooks up quad-card SLI mobo

In the annals of motherboards designed primarily as stunts rather than products, the new Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal seems destined to take its place beside the greats, like AOpen's vacuum tube mobo and Asrock's K8 combo. The press release for this one just landed in my inbox, with word of an SLI-capable motherboard that sports a total of four PCI Express graphics slots. I probably wouldn't believe it myself if I couldn't see a picture, so get a load of this:

Gigabyte's GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal motherboard really does have four PCI-E x16 slots
What may be more unbelievable than the quad PCI-E x16 slots is the fact that this thing sports an LGA775 CPU socket. The press release says this motherboard "is designed for gamers who lived by ultimate performance and ultimate scalability." Apparently, by "ultimate performance" for gamers they mean, well, pokey compared to anything from AMD, I guess. (Can you imagine using four GeForce 7800 GTX cards in SLI mode and being limited to 53 FPS in UT2004 by your Pentium XE 840 processor?) Too many mobo makers somehow never got the memo about how building their high-end image products aimed at enthusiasts around a Pentium 4 might not be the brightest of ideas these days, it seems.

Regardless, the GA-8N-SLI Quad Royal looks like a unique product. It combines an nForce4 SLI Intel edition chipset with another nForce4 SLI chip to drive all of those PCI-E x16 slots. The non-Intel Edition nForce4 chip also probably acts as the south bridge for the board. The press release is vague on how many lanes of PCI Express connectivity go to each of the graphics slots, but I believe the answer is that two slots get fully 16 lanes in a dual-card config, or each of the eight slots gets eight lanes in a quad-card config. There's also no explicit mention of running four cards together in a true quad-SLI configuration, although I suspect it might be possible here, given the right mix of cross-card connectors and video drivers. How about it, NVIDIA?

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