Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nvidia Withdraws Triple-SLI Promise for Latest Performance-Mainstream Product

Nvidia Corp.’s public relations department has denied that the latest performance mainstream GeForce 8800 GT supports triple-SLI multi-GPU technology, which was announced by the head of the graphics company recently.

Nvidia Corp.’s chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang said during the company’s most-recent conference call with financial analysts that Nvidia’s latest performance-mainstream offering – GeForce 8800 GT – will support triple-SLI technology, which means that consumers would be able to install three of such boards into a single personal computer to get three times more rendering horsepower.

"From [two GeForce] 8800 GT [graphics cards], you could obviously do SLI and soon you’ll be able to do three-way SLI, so you are going to be able to put a lot of GPU horsepower into your system, starting with a very affordable 8800 GT, and so – this is our focus for now," Jen-Hsun Huang, the chief executive of Nvidia.

Unfortunately, the chief exec had made a mistake and triple-SLI will remain prerogative of Nvidia’s high-end offerings GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra, which retail for $599 and $849, respectively.

“Simple typo/slip on his part… The plans haven’t changed,” said Derek Perez, public relations director at Nvidia, reports The Inquirer web-site. It is unclear whether “the plans” have been announced, or they exist only within Nvidia and its add-in-card partners.

Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards have only one so-called MIO interface connector per card, meaning that only two of such boards can be connected into a pair. Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra models feature two MIO interface connectors per board, allowing to connect two, three, four or even more graphics cards between each other. It should be noted that Nvidia allows inexpensive graphics cards to work in pairs without MIO interconnection and use PCI Express bus for communication between graphics chips. Nevertheless, the company decided not to enable this capability for its GeForce 8800 GT, which retails for $199 - $259, depending on the model.

Based on benchmark results, Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT with 112 unified shader processors may be as fast as the much more expensive GeForce 8800 GTX, thus, even two of such boards are likely to leave both 8800 GTX and 8800 Ultra far behind in games that can take advantage of multiple graphics processing units (GPU), whereas triple-SLI configuration based on the model 8800 GT is likely to offer performance higher than that of two 8800 GTX/Ultra boards. Given that enthusiasts are willing to pay massive amounts of money even for relatively small performance boost, leaving triple-SLI only for graphics cards that cost over $500 is a logical step from economic point of view.

ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, promised to support triple- and quad-GPU configurations with its CrossFire X technology early next year for ATI Radeon HD 3850/3870 graphics cards that retail for $179 - $239, which may inspire enthusiasm among gamers. It should be noted that ATI currently has nothing to offer for $500 and above, thus, extensive multi-GPU support on performance-mainstream products is completely justified.

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