NVIDIA and P55

Yesterday NVIDIA held its Power of 3 platform briefing. The intention was to align NVIDIA’s GPUs, SLI and PhysX with the Intel Lynnfield/P55 launch. NVIDIA has no Lynnfield chipsets out (but is expected to sometime next year), instead it is providing SLI licenses to those motherboard makers that are interested in supporting multi-GPU on their boards.

The license terms are thankfully a lot more palatable than they were with the initial X58 launch. To support SLI a motherboard manufacturer simply has to pay NVIDIA $30,000 up front plus $3 per SLI enabled motherboard sold. In turn NVIDIA gives the motherboard manufacturer a key to put in its BIOS that tells the NVIDIA display drivers that it’s ok to enable SLI on that platform.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Lynnfield includes an on-die PCIe controller provided 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes. Using an external switch those 16 lanes can be split off into two x8 slots, enabling CF and SLI (CF is enabled free of charge, SLI requires participation in the licensing program).

Although unnecessary, if you want the bandwidth of two x16 PCIe 2.0 slots the motherboard manufacturer will need to use an nForce 200 chip. This chip houses 32 PCIe 2.0 lanes but connects to the Lynnfield chip via 16 lanes, so you get better bandwidth between cards but no increase in bandwidth between the GPUs and the CPU. Expect boards that use an nForce 200 chip to be limited at best.

Without the PCIe switch logic to split the x16 connection off of Lynnfield into two x8 connections, SLI can’t be enabled; NVIDIA won’t allow it over mismatched PCIe slots (e.g. x16 + x4).

In an unexpected alignment, NVIDIA is actually calling out AMD’s Dragon platform by name (Phenom II + AMD 700 Series Chipset + AMD 4800 Series GPU). NVIDIA calls its “platform” the Power of 3, of course referring to Intel’s P55, Intel’s Lynnfield and a NVIDIA GPU. Intel gets it for free here; NVIDIA does all of the branding and promotion for Power of 3, yet Intel makes the vast majority of the silicon. Perhaps someone is bitter over not being included in AMD’s platform launch plans anymore?

All kidding aside, at least this means we will see mature driver and SLI support for Lynnfield at launch. While NVIDIA was in good shape when X58 debuted last year, AMD’s driver support left much to be desired. It’s clear that even NVIDIA with its anti-Intel blood sees the importance of Lynnfield; it’s nice to see egos checked at the door.

There’s one more logo program that’s being introduced with Lynnfield SLI certification: PhysX Ready. Yep, you read that right. NVIDIA is now allowing motherboard makers who are SLI partners to put a PhysX Ready logo on their boxes if they have enough PCIe slots to support a second GPU as a PhysX card.

You may remember that we weren’t overly impressed with PhysX the last time we looked at it, but NVIDIA promises that the use of PhysX in Batman: Arkham Asylum is beyond anything we’ve ever seen. We’ll find out next month when Batman ships.



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  • TA152H - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    I agree. It's a Celeron in drag. I'm OK with Celerons if they are cheap enough, but show me someone that pays $350 for a Lynnfield/Celeron motherboard, and I'll show you an idiot. You're just better off with the real deal.

    My main problem with this Celeron is when it oversteps what it is, and ends up in the arena of the real i7. If it's cheap, it's a great deal, on a fine processor. But when they start making $350 motherboards for this Celeron, then you have to scratch your head and wonder what the point is. With x58 motherboards now available for less than $200, why would anyone pay so much for an x55?

    I think this processor will settle into it's proper market segment over time, but, for now, I'm just confused by the amount of attention it's getting, and how expensive some of the parts are. Really, $350 for a x55 motherboard? Why?
  • ClagMaster - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    "I agree. It's a Celeron in drag. I'm OK with Celerons if they are cheap enough, but show me someone that pays $350 for a Lynnfield/Celeron motherboard, and I'll show you an idiot. You're just better off with the real deal."


    You just convinced me you are either an idiot or a fool. Real idiots are too mentally degraded to write. I see you can write. Since most of your posts have been mostly obnoxious, priggish, based on fashionable contrarianism, I suspect the latter. One would hope your eating habits are more refined than you post habits -- that you would smell it first before you take a bite. So I will endeavor, with patience, to perhaps correct your foolishness, your proud studied stupidity.

    The Lynnfield i5/i7 do not qualify as Celerons. Not by a longshot. Not for a longtime. Celerons are sub-$100 processors made from degraded cores that have been around for a year. They often have reduced L2 caches and FSB frequencies. Lynnfields start at $200, have not been released yet, have the same L2/L3 cache, operate at the same frequencies, have the same architecture, and have nearly the same performance of the Bloomfield i7. These are brand new, fully featured, state of the art processors that pack a real performance wallop.

    Calling the Lynnfield i5/i7 a Celeron is not defensible. In fact, its patiently silly and irresponsable. Only a willful fool would make such an assertion. A fool who clearly does not know what he is talking about.

    The Lynnfield i5/i7 is an adaptation of the Bloomfield i7 for mainstream/high performance desktop computing needs. Not for your imagined needs TA152H. The goal of this adaptation is affordable aquisition and operating costs while offering excellent performance of the Nahelem architecture.

    The i7 Bloomfield was designed as a server processor to compete with the Opterons. What is changed in Lynnfield is the third memory channel and special high speed CPU/chipset/memory interconnect has been removed. This high speed interconnect is mainly useful for server/workstation applications which have extremely high bandwidth requirements that do not exist for desktop computing. The loss of the third channel and high-speed interconnect has been demonstrated to not be noticable in a desktop mainstream/high performance desktop computing environment.

    I hope you like the taste of crow TA152H. Because, from Mr Shimpi's May article, the Lynnfield i5/i7 with the P55 chipset is reasonably certain to have perfomance comparable to today's Bloomfield/X58 at a fraction of the cost and power consumption.

    This is the smarter choice for my money.

    Lastly, do not call reasonable people idiots because they don't think like you do. Or they don't entertain the same expectations of their hardware as you do. Or are subjected to very real constraints (like money and personal responsability) than you. If you want to be effective in this forum, stop calling people idiots. It would really be great if you were more responsable with your posts
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    Let's not get too hasty with quotes such as "at a fraction of the cost and power consumption." Generally when "At a fraction of" is used, it means a small fraction. So far Lynnfield is looking like it will be 60-80% of the cost of an X58/920 system. We'll have to wait for final performance numbers and prices, but when the difference in price can be made up by skipping going out to the movies for a few months it isn't a life-altering event.

    As far as the power consumption thing goes, we'll definitely have to wait for retail silicon to see. Considering that Intel already sells the Nehalem Xeons with 95W TDPs, I wouldn't be too surprised if the current consumer i7s are less power hungry as the process matures and voltages can be dropped. The majority of the difference between 1156 and 1366 might end up being in the chipset and extra RAM.
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - link

    I agree.

    I think the cost for a P55/Quad i5 will be 70% the cost of a X58/920 system. That is what I had in mind when I called it a fraction of the cost.

    I consider a 1156 i5/i7 at 95W is pretty good compared to the 1366 i7 at 130W.

    I too believe lower power i5/i7's will become available when voltages are dropped. I think 65W i5/i7's eventually will become available just as the Penrym 95W Quad Cores had 65W models.

  • james jwb - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Why don't you two get a room and get it all of your chest together. You both have latched onto this $350 pricing as if this is Intel's fault. You should be blaming EVGA and others for these types of boards, and stick to reality, which is that there will be very good boards at about $120 once prices cool down.

    Again, blame the AIB's that think they can sucker people to buy these high end boards, and i think EVGA is at the forefront of this crap.

    Sure, i don't like Intel's general strategy with i5 over i7 much here either, but i like you two less.

  • TA152H - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Clearly, you're an idiot.

    I didn't blame Intel, or even mention Intel. I mentioned the platform.

    I have also said the platform should be viable when the prices fall down. I have a big problem with the cost. It's too much for what it is.

    Buy a book on reading comprehension, if you can understand this sentence.
  • JustPassing - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Oh, come on. Why don't you just say something like "I believe that overly expensive motherboards don't make sense, given the intended product positioning". If that's all you want to say, then just say it, instead of throwing terms like 'crippled' and 'celeron in drag' around when referring to the processors themselves. Reply
  • mesiah - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    James, don't feed the trolls :P

    Both snake and TA have been beating there scewed view of lynnfield into the ground since the first specs came out. Then to drive their point home they try to focus on the absolute highest priced mobos, or numbers reported from locked down engineering samples. Theres always going to be companies like evga that make decked out versions of mother boards no matter what cpu they are for. The fact of the matter is, none of us knows what the true performance numbers of these new CPUs are except for places like anandtech that are lucky enough to have their hands on them. Until intel removes the gag order on performance specs we can only speculate. But based on the excitement coming from most major tech outlets I am willing to bet that guys like snake and TA will be eating their words very soon. Lets not forget that these "crippled" cpus as they like to refer to them are only missing things that are generally excepted as overkill for mainstream computing and gaming, and the things that really effect performance for the average person such as hyper threading and high clock speeds are all present and accounted for. I have a feeling when real numbers for the lynnfield i7s start showing up, alot of people who bought i7 920s are going to be wishing they waited a few more months. But only time will tell.
  • Interitus - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Thank you.

    Here I thought I might be the only person completely irritated by the 1366 fanboys here.
  • ClagMaster - Thursday, August 20, 2009 - link

    I am really looking forward to the Lynnfield/P55 launch next month. The P55 motherboard product line looks really good, The vendors have put a lot of work into these boards and it shows. For $130, a user can get a really nice P55 motherboard. And this time Nvidia/Intel are not mucking around with licensing for those who have a crying need for SLI.

    This launch is really directed toward advanced mainstream users who are willing to invest $600-$700 in a CPU/Mobo/Memory/Graphics Card upgrade. Four slots of 8-16GB of DDR3-1600 memory is more than adequate for mainstream usage.

    If everything holds true with Lynnfield/P55, then i7/X58 performance is available for about 70% the cost.

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