nForce 4 SLI X16: Full Speed PCI Expressby Derek Wilson on August 8, 2005 1:56 PM EST
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IntroductionEver since its launch in the fall of last year, nForce 4 has brought us SLI capability. Configurations for PCI Express slots in nForce 4 SLI motherboards must be selected by using a paddle that can be flipped to allow for either 2 x8 connections or full bandwidth for one with the other disabled. There is added flexibility on an nForce 4 SLI motherboard, but this flexibility comes with some limitations. Today, NVIDIA sheds the shackles of the paddle selector and limited bandwidth with the new nForce 4 SLI X16 chipset.
In addition to the increased bandwidth and ease of use come quite a few extra niceties. Boards based on nForce 4 SLI X16 will have more I/O options on top of the added PCI Express bandwidth. The introduction of a new enthusiast part will also push prices down on existing products and NVIDIA will begin selling its current nForce4 SLI solution at mainstream prices. Aside from cheaper being better, this should increase adoption of the SLI platform giving the mainstream user some reason to care about SLI. With this also comes value for options like 6600 and 6200 SLI. Everything seems to be coming up roses for NVIDIA's dual GPU business right now with ATI's Crossfire still waiting in the wings.
With this introduction also comes quite a surprise from Dell. NVIDIA will be supplying core logic to the previously Intel-only volume computer manufacturer, making nForce4 SLI X16 the first non-Intel chipset for dudes to get in their Dells. This is quite a big announcement and will really help to boost NVIDIA's already successful chipset business. This announcement also gives some glimmer of hope for Dell as non-Intel hardware on the motherboard may mean that Dell is capable of making good decisions in the processor department as well. While it is unlikely that we will see AMD based Dell systems anytime soon, it's nice to know that the thin line between volume discounts and unfair business practices is clear enough to allow Dell to make the right choice for performance once in a while. At least, now one of their chipset vendors supports AMD as well as Intel.
Unfortunately, we don't yet have a board to test for performance numbers on the new configuration, but that won't stop us from talking about what's new under the hood.