Introduction

One of the first things we thought of when we heard that NVIDIA was going to try to bring back the multi-GPU craze was the single board solution. Even back in the 3dfx days, there was Obsidian ready with the single board SLI solution. Gigabyte is hitting multi-GPU technology hard out of the gate with a single board 6600 GT solution dubbed the 3D1. We were able to get our hands on this and two new motherboards from Gigabyte last week for a round of holiday testing.



The two major focuses of the article will be to explore any advantages offered by the 3D1 over two-card SLI solutions, and to take a first look at the performance of the GA-8AENXP Dual Graphic Intel SLI offering from Gigabyte. This is the 925XE version of the earlier announced 915P based Dual Graphic board.

The reader should understand this before beginning the review: these solutions are somewhat limited in application until NVIDIA changes its philosophy on multi-GPU support in ForceWare drivers. In order to get any multi-GPU support at all, the driver must detect an SLI capable motherboard. This means that we had to go back to the 66.81 driver in order to test Intel SLI. It also means that even if the 3D1 didn't require a special motherboard BIOS in order to boot video, it wouldn't be able to run in SLI mode unless it were in an SLI motherboard.

As it stands, the optimal single card solution can't be had until NVIDIA allows multi-GPU functionality to be enabled on motherboards without explicit SLI support. Combine this with a multi-GPU graphics card that doesn't require special BIOS hooks to POST, and we have a universal single card solution. Until then, bundling the GA-K8NXP-SLI motherboard and 3D1 is a very good solution for Gigabyte. Those who want to upgrade to PCI Express and a multi-GPU solution immediately have a viable option here. They get the motherboard needed to run an SLI system and two GPUs in one package with less hassle.

For now, we are very interested in taking a look at the first of many innovations that are sure to come out the graphics card vendors' multi-GPU R&D departments.

The Hardware
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  • sprockkets - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the clarification. But also some were using the Server Intel chipset cause it had 2 16x slots, instead of the desktop chipset to use SLI. Like the article said though, the latest drivers only like the nvidia sli chipet. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    #29,

    The 6800GT PCI-E is probably going to use a different chip (native PCI-E) than the broken AGP version.

    One big problem with nVidia's SLI that I don't see enough people talking about is this:
    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=99&type=e...
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Why is everyone thinking dual core CPU's and dual GPU video cards is so far fetched? Give it 6-12 months and you'll see it. Reply
  • RocketChild - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    I seem to recall ATi was frantically working on a solution like this to bypass Nvidia's SLI solution and I am not reading anything about their progress. From the position the article points to BIOS hurdles, does it look like we are going to have to wait for ATi to release their first chipset to support a multi-GPU ATi card? Anyone here have any information or speculations? Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    25, the reason you'd want to buy two 6600GT's instead of one 6800GT is that PureVideo functions work completely on the 6600GT, whereas they are partially broken on the 6800GT. If this solution didn't work in only Gigabyte boards, I'd certainly consider it myself. Reply
  • skiboysteve - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Im confused as to why anyone would buy this card at all. Your paying the same price as a 6800GT and getting the same performance with all the issues that go with Gigabyte SLI. thats retarded. Reply
  • ceefka - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Are there any cards available for the remaining PCI-E slots? Reply
  • Ivo - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    Obviously, the future belongs to the matrix CPU/GPU (IGP?) solutions with optimized performance/power consumption ratios. But there is still a relatively long way (2 years?) to go. The recent NVIDIA's NF4-SLI game is more marketing, then technical in nature. They are simply checking the market, concurrence, and … enthusiastic IT society :-) The response is moderate, as the challenge is. But the excitements are predetermined.
    Happy New Year 2005!
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    I don't understand why anyone would want to buy a dual-core 6600GT rather than a similarly priced 6800GT. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, January 07, 2005 - link

    I appologize for the omission of pictures from the article on publication.

    We have updated the article with images of the 3D1 and the K8NXP-SLI for your viewing pleasure.

    Thanks,
    Derek Wilson
    Reply

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