nVidia has decided to give new life to an old Voodoo concept and has announced nVidia SLI which will allow multiple GeForce 6 Series or Quadro graphics cards to operate in a single PC or workstation for increased graphics horsepower.
Appearing later this year in PCI Express-based PCs and workstations from the world's top manufacturers, the new nVidia SLI technology will take full advantage of the additional bandwidth and features of this new high-bandwidth bus architecture.
Interestingly enough Alienware, who will also be launching its own Video Array dual GPU system in Q4 2004 (ALX), is also listed as a partner. nVidia seems to be creating a product which will allow other system builders to compete with Alienware, this competition however will leave Alienware with one advantage over its rivals, that its own setup will, most probably, support ATI cards as well. It will be interesting to see how this battle of the ultimate PC will progress, especially since it may well develop into a battle between system builders.
nVidia SLI is a patent-pending hardware and software solution that enables system builders to connect two PCI Express-based GeForce 6 Series or Quadro graphics boards on their PCI Express-compatible motherboards. The technology features an intelligent communication protocol embedded in the GPU and a high-speed digital interface on the graphics board to facilitate data flow. A complete suite of software provides dynamic load balancing, and advanced rendering and compositing to ensure smooth frame rates and outstanding image quality.
Unreal Engine 3 has an insatiable appetite for fill rate and polygon throughput, running shader programs of 50-100 instructions per pixel to achieve advanced per-pixel lighting and material shading. nVidia's SLI technology running on PCI Express motherboards provides an incredible performance increase of up to 2x, bringing next-generation gaming up to even higher resolutions and frame rates, stated Tim Sweeney, founder and president, EPIC Games.
Systems based on SLI multi-GPU technology are expected to become available in the second half of 2004 from the world’s leading PC and workstation manufacturers including: