Of course NVIDIA would wait until I physically left NVISION 08 to actually make an interesting announcement, but there’s no bitterness, I swear :)

The big, no, huge news from today? NVIDIA is enabling native support for 2 and 3-way SLI on Intel X58 based motherboards...without the use of any nForce 200 chips.

It’s not as simple as simply enabling SLI support on X58, NVIDIA wanted to both ensure compatibility and additional revenue, so there’s a certification program.

Any X58 motherboard maker can submit their board for certification, which will be done by NVIDIA. If the board passes, and the motherboard manufacturer agrees to pay a certification fee (NVIDIA would not reveal how much), then the board is certified and NVIDIA provides the board manufacturer with a key to place in its BIOS.

When you install the NVIDIA drivers, they check for the presence of this key in the BIOS - if it’s found, then you get the ability to enable SLI, natively, on X58. Note that this won’t work on any other Intel chipsets, just X58 for Nehalem owners this fall.

This is absolutely huge because it does mean that with the right motherboard you can now have both CrossFire and SLI support, without resorting to an OEM system or something more exotic like Skulltrail. Below are the supported configurations:

You can run X58/SLI with either two or three cards (a pair of GX2s will work but you can’t use four individual cards in SLI). 3-way SLI + 1 card PhysX acceleration is supported as well.

If you absolutely want the highest bandwidth possible, 3 PCIe x16 slots are only supported using nForce 200 chips, otherwise you’re stuck with two x16s or one x16 and two x8s.

The nForce 200 route seems quite silly due to the added cost and power consumption but the option is still on the table.

Why is NVIDIA doing this?
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  • Slaimus - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Remember the days of ULi chipsets that support "GLi" with Nvidia graphics cards? This is not the first time SLi has been used on non-Nvidia chipsets.

    Besides, hell was already frozen after AMD-ATI merger.
  • IcePickFreak - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    It's obvious they've looked into Lucid's Hydra and seen impending doom for the nvidia chipset so they're trying to cash in while they can.

    You heard that totally unsupported rumor here first!
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    The article mentions that nVidia won't be making LGA-1366 chipsets themselves so it makes sense that they would have to open up SLI a bit in order to get it into the high-end platform. However, the article said that nVidia will be making LGA-1160 chipsets. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but processors on the LGA-1160 socket will have integrated PCIe controllers will they not? The processors will have an IMC, a PCIe controller, and an IGP, and the only thing going out is a DMI link to the southbridge. It seems to me, if nVidia wants to get SLI into the all important mainstream market, they are going to have to license SLI to Intel itself so that the PCIe controller in their processors can be certified. Which will be an interesting concept, having nVidia certify Intel processors.
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    "Hell freezing over" would be if Nvidia allowed SLI on any board without "certification" (ie: scam) like ATI. This announcement is at most "Hell got a bit colder".
  • wingless - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Now if 4Ghz Phenom FX-80s beating 5Ghz Kentsfields is confirmed, it truly will be a chilly day in hades!

    Also if this is just a BIOS key or driver fix, then somebody will make a custom BIOS/Driver to enable SLI on ANY motherboard!
  • Amiga500 - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    The 4 GHz K10.5 is almost certainly rubbish.

    4 GHz @ 1.168V?

    Not likely.
  • smilingcrow - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    If the nVIDIA driver install routine checks for the presence of an x58 chipset on install then hacking the BIOS alone won’t fool it so don’t expect support on other chipsets via hacked BIOSs. Unless that can be hacked also!
    “Let's just say you've let the cat out of the bag at a big site that most manufacturers frequent. Being clever involves being shrewed, you are clearly lacking in the latter.”

    Because nVIDIA never would have guessed that would they! LOL. Surely most BIOSs are machine specific so they will fail to load on other systems no matter how similar the boards!
  • mindless1 - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    There may be two factors.

    1) They only mentioned checking for a key not hardware details.

    2) Is it really in nVidia's best interest to prevent hackers from allowing SLI on other chipsets? What does this do? nVidia already lost a chipset sale if they had another chipset, but if SLI is allowed they at least have another GPU sale if the hack was ever to be useful.
  • JSquires - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    "NVIDIA provides the board manufacturer with a key to place in its BIOS."

    Lets say a motherboard manufacturer makes two similar boards, one with SLI support but one without. How about you flash the bios of the cheaper one to make it support SLI?
  • Berger - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Let's just say you've let the cat out of the bag at a big site that most manufacturers frequent. Being clever involves being shrewed, you are clearly lacking in the latter.


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