Prolink

There was a renowned emphasis on displays at the show - as Anand highlighted with his DLP primer coverage. However, away from the show floors and prying eyes of us mere mortals, there were several demos that made us very excited. Prolink showed us our first look at 6600 non-GT SLI in action. PixelView's engineers were able to snap us a couple of pictures of the demo below.

Looking closely, you can see that the 6600 non-GT solution still employs a bridge over the top portion of the card, which means 6600 SLI will still require slightly different video cards than the cards sitting on the shelf today. However, Prolink tells us that the 6600 SLI approach requires relatively little tweaking on the manufacturer's end. It may be possible for softmod BIOS upgrades on existing 6600 cards today that would allow SLI-like performance, although without the bridge PCB, the cards would suffer a decent performance hit.

The specifications for the FutureMark test are as listed below:

ASUS A8N-SLI
Athlon 64 3200+
256MB PC-3200
PixelView dual 6600 256MB (clocked at 340/650)


Click to enlarge.

The same configuration using the cards are their default clock of 300/500 scored 8255. Two stock 6600GT video cards yielded a little less than 12000 marks. So, the 1/3 difference in performance is significant, but if Prolink can pull the price point by 1/3 less than that of the GT variants, they will find themselves at a very interesting price point with very little competition. Who else wants an SLI configuration for less than $250?

Prolink is just another one of NVIDIA's partners that continues to layer additional but mildly unsupported features on NVIDIA hardware. You may recall that MSI, Epox and DFI all have produced motherboard variants that enabled "SLI"-like capability on nForce4 Ultra motherboards; some have reportedly achieved this using identical PCB between their nForce4 Ultra and SLI motherboards. Unfortunately, Prolink and these other companies are running a very strong risk of losing support in upcoming NVIDIA driver releases, as claimed by MSI after they halted production of their "DBS" motherboard based on the nForce4 Ultra chipset.

Across the street from the convention center, S3 gave us the opportunity to view their next generation video card lineup - which actually targets more of the low end set top box market than the PC market. In particular, S3's DeltraChrome S8 ULP processor caught our attention as it was running without a heatsink or fan using only 2.5W while running FutureMark. The S8 isn't the fastest GPU in the market, but it doesn't have to be if S3 is aiming for the set top box market - they are aiming for the low hanging HTPC market.

XGI has remained very quiet over the last few months, but they gave us a one-on-one opportunity to look over the upcoming product lineup. The recent shuffle inside the company has made them relook their target market. The company will not focus on competitors like S3 and the low end market. Rather, they will be re-introducing themselves to the retail market with their own video card lineup. Part of the problems that plagued XGI with the Volari line-up was the unwillingness for Tier 1 manufacturers to adopt the chipsets in their video cards.

Recently, however, XGI did aquire Dell as one of their OEM clients for the server markets with the low power, no nonsense Volari Z7 processor. Product managers also mentioned unofficially that they will roll out a plan for OSS Linux drivers for their products. This is great news for both Linux users and XGI alike as NVIDIA could use some strong driver competition.

PowerColor and Sapphire both showed a strong offering on and off the floor this year too. As Anand mentioned earlier, X850 is really shaping up to be the next X800XT PE - low stock, low availability and the likelihood that anyone will be able to afford these cards is turning out to be quite a pipe dream. Furthermore, the fact that the X800 Pro PCIe edition is already approaching EOL has dampened our spirits a little as well. However, the X800 XL is shaping up to be an exceptionally capable replacement. It's still going to be another month before we see retail availability.

Storage Closing Thoughts
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  • jiulemoigt - Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - link

    I've used one of the light scibe drives, wheres the fact it burns in monocrome, which looks color but is not color, they look like the windows hologrph cds. The other thing is you can burn the CDs when ever as your burning the other side and use a normal burner for the normal side. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - link

    What's with the vaccum cleaner on page 2? Reply
  • skunkbuster - Sunday, January 16, 2005 - link

    that Vento was damn fugly! Reply
  • Determinant - Saturday, January 15, 2005 - link

    #10, you misunderstood me. I also want to see what downfalls a product has. I too believe in non-biased articles and Anandtech is one of the best sites for that.

    #9 & #10, If you are people that go to these events then you are justified to say that about events (I agree with both of you when talking about products) but most of us don't attend these events.

    So if you want a quick way of deciding wether to read the article or not then saying "nothing interesting happened" would really help you out. My comment was directed at authors rather than readers because an author wants everyone to read the article.

    I still stand by what I said earlier.
    Reply
  • overclockingoodness - Saturday, January 15, 2005 - link

    I agree with #9. We don't need to see the positive side of a trade show or a product. We can just looking at the specifications and read the press release if we only want to see positives of everything. I want to see what kind of downfalls does the product has. I don't want independant review organizations to show me the positives: what will be the difference between in-house marketing departments and publications?

    AnandTech and all other publications are doing right by showing the wrong sides of the product or a trade show for that matter.
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Saturday, January 15, 2005 - link

    #7 actually I disagree, it's nice to see reviews that don't sugar-coat everything and if a show is really "some interesting widgets but nothing too revolutionary", says so! Reply
  • semo - Saturday, January 15, 2005 - link

    #6, i don't know the exact speed but 16x dvd buring is 22,000kb/s or 22mb/s not 22kb/s. at 22kb/s a 4.7gb disc will burn in about 55 hours lol.

    anyway, i'm glad anandtech has finally reported on lightscribe. too bad mr. Kubicki didn't seem to like the idea too much. i, on the other hand, have been waiting for a whole year. i really really need a dvd burner now!
    Reply
  • Determinant - Friday, January 14, 2005 - link

    Just a suggestion:

    Instead of saying something like:

    "CES doesn't give us any really juicy details in small dosages"

    (this next quote is from the previous article)
    "With the death of Comdex in 2004, the computer press had every expectation that CES would fill the void. That expectation turned out to be overly optimistic "

    It would be better to just talk about what CES does instead of mentioning what it doesn't. Instead of talking about disadvantages or pitfalls, articles should focus on the positive aspects.

    The reason for this is because whenever a reader reads an article that is "downbeat" then it makes you feel like just skipping to the conclusion since the article won't have anything interesting anyway (the author basically says so).

    I'm not trying to criticize this article it's just that I've been seeing this quite a bit lately at many websites. The readers can't be excited about something that sounds "downbeat" and will be less inclined to continue reading.

    I can only hope that authors will keep this in mind in the future.
    Reply
  • mbhame - Friday, January 14, 2005 - link

    In http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i... you said
    "Keep in mind that the physical limitation on hard drive read speed is what keeps DVD burners from writing faster than 16X"
    But I have read multiple times previously that an optical drive's RPM becomes dangerously-fast >52X CD/16X DVD speeds - plus 16X DVD's transfer rate is 22KBps. StorageReview.com also points out that even ancient HDDs like the Seagate U6 has an initial transfer rate of 29.9MBps.

    I think you ought to modify your article sir. Thank you.
    Reply
  • jamawass - Friday, January 14, 2005 - link

    Hope DLP wins and the 1080p move into front projector lines. I love my early gen Infocus X1 projector, can't imagine how a 1080p dlp will look. Reply

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