Why is NVIDIA doing this?

NVIDIA was clear in mentioning that it will continue to design chipsets for Penryn based platforms, but it will not be making any QPI enabled chipsets for Nehalem. Thus, with Nehalem, the only way to get SLI support would be to use an Intel chipset.

Note that NVIDIA will be making LGA-1160 based Nehalem motherboards (dual-channel DDR3) for the low end and mainstream markets, but that platform isn't expected to debut until late 2009. LGA-1366 based Nehalem systems (dual/triple-channel DDR3) are the ones launching this year and the ones that NVIDIA won't have a chipset for.

NVIDIA originally expected OEMs to use its nForce 200 chips to enable SLI support on X58, however we heard from the very start that most motherboard manufacturers weren’t going to use the nForce 200 + Intel X58 combination. If NVIDIA wanted to offer SLI on Nehalem, it would have to open it up to all X58 motherboards, otherwise AMD could actually gain a multi-GPU advantage by being the only multi-GPU technology natively supported by Nehalem.

The timing of the announcement is very last-minute. Most motherboard manufacturers weren’t even aware that NVIDIA was opening up SLI to X58 until tonight, they received phone calls shortly after NVIDIA briefed us earlier this evening.

NVIDIA is committed to enabling X58 SLI motherboard support by the time Nehalem launches later this year. We were also told that while Intel’s own X58 motherboard isn’t currently on the certified list, Intel is more than welcome to submit it for certification.

NVIDIA went even further to say that if we were previewing any X58 motherboards that hadn’t yet made it through certification, that it would work with us to get our hands on a driver enabling SLI on the motherboard. It remains to be seen how easy it will be to simply hack in support for SLI on any X58 motherboard, regardless of certification status.

And there you have it: in response to the complaint of no-new-news out of NVISION 08, NVIDIA dropped the biggest bombshell of them all - native SLI support on X58. While I’d like to see top-to-bottom SLI support regardless of chipset, this is most definitely a good start.

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  • hoohoo - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - link

    Because otherwise Nvidia will be ground into pieces between the twin boulders of Intel and AMD/ATI. Intel and AMD/ATI would then paint the pieces blue and red and stnad around and toss the little pieces up in the air repeatedly while madly cackling. They might even smile at *each other*!

    The only place video cards compete other than on price is in high resolution gaming: the only way that happens is SLI/Crossfire: Intel and AMD/ATI are quite competitive against Nvidia chipsets and Nvidia does not own the IP for Intel and AMD/ATI chipset/CPU interfaces: by refusing to let chipset makers do SLI on their own Nvidia removes itself from the SLI/Crossfire market. Therefore Nvidia must quit the market or play ball.

    Intel's upcoming video processor may become a third force in graphics - how likely that Intel would support SLI if that happens? AMD/ATI certainly will never support SLI in their chipsets. Thus Nvidia's situation of a vendor of GPUs but not CPUs makes it vulnerable to being simply squeezed out of the video card market.

    That said, Nvidia has deeper pockets, broader markets than gaming, and less debt than AMD/ATI. I think Nvidia bought a CPU company a few months ago.

    Would a third GPU + CPU vendor be a good thing? Yes. Indeed yes. Yes, I think it would be a fine thing indeed.
  • AggressorPrime - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    I just love how the market can just force nVidia to do what is best for us computer users. You gotta love Capitalism. Thank you nVidia for bringing SLI to a universal platform without the hassel of bridges!
  • jarthel - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    empire strikes back!
  • Mr Roboto - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    This is interesting: http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/08...-sli-suppor...">http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/08...-sli-suppor...

    Saw this on the HardOCP forums. Quotes taken from Bittech

    Nvidia wouldn’t answer questions about vendors adding the cookie onto boards that haven’t been through the certification process, but it said logos and branding are a couple of the conditions of use.

    So what about if a budding enthusiast manages to extract the key from one or more boards? Nvidia said it wouldn’t do anything to stop enthusiasts enabling SLI support on non-certified motherboards themselves. Tom Petersen, Technical Marketing Director in Nvidia’s chipset business unit, said that he’d be quite happy if enthusiasts did that because it’d mean they’d be using two (or more) Nvidia graphics cards in their system.

  • lsman - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    So INQ report NV exit out of chipset buz was right?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    Not yet... they won't have the necessary QPI interface for Nehalem at launch, but they are planning to support the 2-channel version. Regardless, if you make enough predictions, you're bound to get a few right eventually.
  • Beenthere - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    It's standard procedure in many industries to test and certify products and then charge a royalty per unit sold, so there is nothing unusual about Nvidia's latest revenue stream.

    The real question is, why would anyone want SLI when they can have superior performance from Crossfire? I doubt that native SLI will be a savior for Nvidia. They have much more serious problems to address if they plan to be around much longer.
  • Ananke - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

    I have this question, just form a pragmatic standpoint...Why should this make me buy nVidia if Radeon obviously works on any platform. So, if I migrate from Intel to AMD I can still Crossfire my Radeons. The only good reason would be if I already have nVidia, to be able to keep the cards when I buy Nehalem. However, is it worth to cut my future oportunity and platform independance in half? Now, if the GTX260 costs 25-30% less then Radeon4870, and has 55 nm, better power, heat, image etc. characteristics, then I definitely will consider /not immediate buy/ the GTX. As of today the market is against nVidia though. They need to shrink those chips, make the cards smaller, scalable and cheaper.
  • bonecrusher - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link

  • i3arracuda - Thursday, August 28, 2008 - link


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