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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  • AssBall - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Why does getting beaten violently with an unusual rodent have to be inclusive with cleverness? Who is the "shrewed" one here?
  • Basilisk - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Tsk, tsk... time to tame your comments -- they're all shrewed up! :) Ain't a rodent. And ain't unusual -- rather prolific and common, in fact.

    That aside, this Plan is all too nVidia's [pardon the meager pun] for me: I won't pay -extra- for nVidia SLI support -- that should be what you get by buying the graphics board and by its manufacturer working with industry standards. This is just a last effort by nVidia to wring bucks out of the customers: they aren't providing anything material for the cost increase.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

  • AmberClad - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    So what about SLI support for subsequent, non-enthusiast Ci7 chipsets? Like something more mainstream oriented (P55?)
  • Pedro80 - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    And how long until someone comes up with some kind of patcher for various bios files?
    This would make anyone able to enable SLI on their X58 system as long as the HW supports it..
  • Targon - Sunday, August 31, 2008 - link

    Why would anyone need to patch the BIOS when the drivers can be patched to enable SLI without a BIOS key? Remember, the drivers are the things that care about SLI support on the motherboard, so this is another example of a manufacturer removing functionality just to make money. This is similar to Creative Labs refusing to enable fully functional features under Vista just to force people to buy new sound cards with Vista support.

  • JarredWalton - Sunday, August 31, 2008 - link

    Last I heard, the drivers had some encrypted files that made it difficult if not impossible to hack in SLI support on non-NVIDIA chipsets. That's why we had SLI-hacks about two years back and nothing since. I haven't looked into it lately, though, so if you have info on hacked SLI drivers post a link.
  • Calin - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Patcher for BIOS files or "improved" driver - some of the hardware-inclined people would find that improving that driver would be a very interesting job
  • mindless1 - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    The hacked bios is obviously a better alternative if/when possible, because bios files are released less often than drivers, people tend to update drivers far more often when they're gamers.
  • Polynikes - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Yeah, I can definitely see hacked BIOS images being the easier choice.

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