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Rumours of ATI's MVP hit web

Rumours of ATI's MVP hit web

Shades of Voodoo 2 SLI... possibly? Will ATI's MVP make NVIDIA see red?

There are some interesting details on ATI's MVP solution that have hit the web this morning. We believe that these rumours have more than a 50/50 chance of being correct, and we understand that MVP will be different to SLI in many ways, but similar in many other ways.

According to an article on the Inquirer, ATI's MVP will have a Master card and a Slave card. (what, no Visa card?? -Ed) We believe that the Slave card can be any current generation PCI-Express video card, while the Master requires a new board layout and additional technology in order to get MVP to work. There is no word as to whether two Master cards can be paired together, or indeed if the Master cards will work on their own. However, we do know that two Slave cards will not work in tandem, which means you will have to buy a new video card whether you already have two PCI-Express video cards or not.

This could well lead to a problem with OEM's, as they don't often like to carry multiple implementations of the same graphics chip. It means a lot of heart ache, and additional warehouse space in order for the company to stock both master and slave cards, while also having to spend the time explaining why two slaves (and maybe two masters) don't work together. Constantly having to explain oneself to customers can be a humiliating process. It is possible that the master card will only be made by ATI themselves.

We understand that there are two methods of rendering that ATI's MVP will support: they will be implementing a chess board-style super-tiling method, and possibly an Alternate Frame Rendering method for titles that do not work well with super-tiling.

There are rumours that the first PCI-Express GeForce 6800 Ultra's and GT's that came to the market were not SLI ready: this is true to an extent, but they were press samples, or reference boards, not retail products bought by consumers from NVIDIA's board partners. All PCI-Express GeForce 6 series video cards that were bought from NVIDIA's board partners in retail packaging should be SLI ready. There was one exception, but they were sold as 'OEM Only' at all Etailers that stocked them. They were dubbed GeForce 6800 GTo's, the "o" from OEM, that were leaked out a while back - they used the wrong PCB revision coupled with the wrong GPU revision meaning that they did not work in SLI. It's questionable as to how they were 'leaked' out, but all GeForce 6800 GTo's were replaced by MSI. All of ATI's current PCI-Express video cards will be able to run as slave cards but, as already mentioned, will not work with another slave card.

It's also believed that MVP will require an external connection between the cards, much like back in the days of Voodoo 2 SLI; that is Scan Line Interleave, not Scalable Link Interface. We're not sure how the external connection will work at the moment, but we understand that it will use either a DVI or VGA connection to connect the two video cards together. However, if data is being passed through a VGA connection, it will be far from the high-speed digital connection that NVIDIA use. If ATI choose not to pass data along the external connection, the PCI-Express bus will become saturated with all of the traffic between the two video cards.

Finally, with no word on performance at the moment we can't make judgements on the viability of ATI's MVP implementation, but if the external connection does go from VGA to VGA, there might be some problems with image quality while gaming. We're also interested in whether users will be able to utilise a dual monitor setup when two of the back plate connections will be taken up by the external connection between the two cards.

We guess we will just have to wait and see, but we understand the architecture will be announced either just before or at Computex in Taiwan at the end of the month.

What are your views on multiple graphics card setups? I'm sure many would say "Sure, if only I could afford one" - do you see SLI as only for the wealthiest of gamers, or do you hold out hope of upgrading once the price comes down? Have your say.