SLI comes natively to Intel X58

SLI comes natively to Intel X58

Whoosh, now certified for Intel, natively.

Nvidia will not limit its SLI multi-GPU technology to next generation X58 motherboards that contain the NF200 chip. Previously Nvidia has limited its SLI technology to its own chipsets but without a QPI license on the table which is needed for the next generation Nehalem (Core i7 and others) platform, Nvidia had to limit it to future motherboards containing its PCI-Express splitter chip.

We've heard unconfirmed reports that Nvidia charges $30 for the privilege, or $20 if you only make X58 motherboards with SLI on them but as far as we know no one in Taiwan has taken up this offer.

Tech Report, uh, reports, that just after Nvision finished, Nvidia gathered together press to tell them about this very recent decision. This is fantastic for us consumers - you can now buy any standard X58 board with the SLI stamp on it and have ONE platform for both AMD and Nvidia multi-GPU. Finally.

But then again, why now pay more for an X58 motherboard with NF200 bolted on, when non-NF200s will do? Will it infuriate those already invested time and money into designing boards with NF200 chips on them?

Nvidia is claimed to have stated that it realised the decision to limit SLI to niche very high-end motherboards was a business mistake and that it had effectively removed itself from the larger mainstream and most of the enthusiast market. It was keen to note though, that motherboards must adhere to certain conditions in order to be granted with SLI certification; these include submission to Nvidia's Santa Clara labs where the it will be tested for functionality, slot placement, product compatibility etc.

Oh and the testing won't be free - so naturally the costs will be uniformly passed onto the consumer, so (cynically speaking) even if you don't use SLI you'll be paying for it in one way or another. This is without doubt a clever decision by Nvidia to put the focus on its SLI brand rather than an optional, physical chipset.

Nvidia will then provide an encryption key (called a "cookie") that'll go in the motherboards BIOS which will be sniffed out by the Forceware drivers and will unlock functionality. No doubt the key will also be an identifier to a particular motherboard, so any mobo maker caught skipping testing of future products might find its SLI license taken away in future Forceware updates.

Our immediate question is that of economics: how much does the certification process cost and will it force the overall X58 price up enough to compensate for the lack of NF200 chipset, since those already with the NF200 won't need to be certified? In some respects, we expect no motherboard manufacturer will want to shy away from not having SLI support since it has massive brand leverage and is great marketing material. However, given the fact that the X58 development cycle is already stretching the motherboard manufacturers to the limit (as does every major chipset launch), we also half-expect SLI certification to come post launch with future BIOS updates. In addition, what stops an enterprising individual making beta BIOS', hacking a cookie from a certified BIOS and dropping it into non-certified ones though?

In the past we've seen hacked Forceware drivers allow SLI on Intel chipsets since it was just a matter of PCI-Express lanes and software, however Nvidia claims its SLI now specifically requires the two major functions of its NF200 chipset: PW Short and Broadcast writes. PCI-Express 2.0 has peer-to-peer writes as a standard feature so there is no need for PW Short, and the Broadcast writes could now be done in software. If that's the case, what about SLI for the AMD 790FX then?

The problem for Nvidia is that by opening up SLI uniformly like ATI has done, it loses on Nvidia chipset sales and a big chunk of its business and essential part to its platform-ideology. As AMD/ATI only now makes chipsets for AMD CPUs (I still cry for the RD600), getting ATI cards on a competitor platform in multi-GPU is almost a bonus. Nvidia makes chipsets for both CPU types though and wants to keep leveraging its position as dominant GPU manufacturer to take advantage of this with extra features like ESA, EPP(2) etc where it can directly control them.

So is this good or bad news for those wanting an X58+i7? Let us know your thoughts, in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
wuyanxu 28th August 2008, 10:42 Quote
good news for extreme customers.

not so good for us who are still 50:50 on whether to go SLi/Crossfire or not. extra spending on something might not use at all.
Baz 28th August 2008, 11:05 Quote
SLI and Crossfire on the same board makes my job a hell of a lot easier - more of this!
sotu1 28th August 2008, 11:08 Quote
i'm still pro single card so...meh. however, great news for the enthusiasts who multi gpu. go!
rjkoneill 28th August 2008, 11:12 Quote
so is this full on sli like the 790i or the budget sli like 750i

if its a case of offering intel chipset quad overclocking with full on nvidia sli then i would be making the move on that decision alone
[USRF]Obiwan 28th August 2008, 11:48 Quote
I am also pro Single card. Every new card was always as fast or faster and better then the previous generation "SLI combined" cards. I also don't have to worry what kind of motherboard I will need. Any chipset will fulfill my needs.

However SLI or crossfire is handy if you have bought one card and a year later buy the same card for dump price. there is one problem, and that is that the card is not made anymore or nobody has them anymore in the stores. "no sir we only got the new generation or a remake of the old type you have buld on 55nm instead of 80nm. And they are not compatible with your old card."

Another fact is that if you buy two brand new cards for sli/crossfire. It takes a year before you see benefit of the increased speed needed for the 'then' new games coming out. But guess what, by then you can also buy the new and improved video card with hexwaxed multi polymoly 3D and DX11 options and takes half the power and less heat your sli setup does.
mrb_no1 28th August 2008, 11:51 Quote
i hate the nvidia 500, 600 and 700 series chipsets, they have given me nothing but problems on boards of my own and those built for other people so part of me is thinking that nvidia is moving along the lines of, well the 780 did nothing to improve on the 680, and now we might lose sli market share as that chipset is sh$t and ati's cards are rocking so maybe those wanting multip gpu systems will look to the reliable and stable systems on intels x48/x58 chipsets... so seen as nvidia have no chipset to compete, to make sure they still attract those after sli setups they have made this move to 'unlock' intel chipsets to sli. Just a thought, but i might be slightly over cynical, slightly harsh towards nvidia but its only a thought and this is a forum.


ComputerKing 28th August 2008, 12:47 Quote
Great news. But I will go for crossfire no matter what. Dual 4870X2 is a winner :p Thanks Bindibadgi For the information.
TreeDude 28th August 2008, 13:24 Quote
More SLI boards is always better. I personally have a 3870. It would make more sense for me to replace it with a 4870 than get another 3870 for xfire.
p3n 28th August 2008, 13:59 Quote
SLI is terrible?

It needs to be transparent to the software, or it needs to learn how to split jobs before software is optimised thusly... otherwise its like buying a quad core for notepad!
biebiep 28th August 2008, 14:00 Quote
Now we can start pirating SLI compatibilty for our motherboard by adding some bits into the BIOS
Redbeaver 28th August 2008, 16:06 Quote
i cant wait for performance reviews between SLI native on X58, SLI on NF200, and SLI on Nvidia chipsets....
metarinka 28th August 2008, 16:21 Quote
Do they still make good "gamer" mobo's that don't have sli, I feel like I'm paying a huge price premium for a feature I'll never need. I'm in the single Gpu crowd too, the economics and practicality just dont' make sense to buy 2 gpus instead just buying a better singular one, and I'm not running top of the line stuff so I have never been able to buy 2x of the highest end cards...

I like some of the features of gaming mobo's but sometimes I feel like they thrown on these extremely fancy features that a really small % of the use base would actually ever use
ComputerKing 28th August 2008, 16:34 Quote
you are right metarinka

I think they must do like gigabyte > DS3Sli for those who need SLI and DS3CFX for those who need CF and DS4 Have both but no SAS or turbo thing. and DQ6 HAVE every thing :D

my point that they must make levels and different models of motherboards not stick with one!
Sebbo 28th August 2008, 16:45 Quote
there were rumours barely a month ago that nvidia was going to step out of the chipset business, native SLI on the x58 certainly reinforces those rumours
Icy EyeG 28th August 2008, 22:05 Quote
Call me crazy, but I think it would be nice if NVIDIA could go one step further and allow the selling of nForce 200 chipsets on a riser card, and enable SLI on any platform...
leexgx 29th August 2008, 05:03 Quote
this motherboard is my last Nvidia motherboard (when looking for new mobo should check if its **** before buying it Striker Extreme with an Quad = very anoying)

as i do not like SLI seem to have more problems with it allways used single powerfull cards (GTX 280 is next on my list to replace the 9800GX2 (2 weeks old i had to turn SLI off) that replaced my 8800GTX that i had no problems with)
liratheal 29th August 2008, 09:07 Quote

I can see the business train of thought is directly responsible for this, but still pretty cool.

Opens us up for both paths without farting around with new motherboards all the damn time!
BlackMage23 29th August 2008, 11:11 Quote
This just shows that Nvidia know that their mobo's have not been at the same standard of Intel, and this is the best way for them to make money until they can sort out their chipsets (if they even bother).
C-Sniper 29th August 2008, 13:59 Quote
Since i run AMD i can't say anything at the moment but looking at one of the layouts with the 2 NF200 chips... wouldn't that need some massive amount of cooling?
Icy EyeG 29th August 2008, 20:28 Quote
Originally Posted by C-Sniper
Since i run AMD i can't say anything at the moment but looking at one of the layouts with the 2 NF200 chips... wouldn't that need some massive amount of cooling?

Yep, something like the Skulltrail Southbridge cooler. Or worse....
rhuitron 30th August 2008, 04:40 Quote
I have been waiting for this to upgrade my sys!

Watch out Credit Cards, here i come!
PhoneyVirus 8th September 2008, 17:56 Quote
Intel got them just right where they want them, they walked right in there trap. This is all over Larrabee with there big mouth, more GPU then CPU now look at them. Because of this I'll never want a SLI mobo and that's why I'm picking up a P45 an using the other PCI-E for PhysX. Nvidia has finally released drivers enabling PhysX and CUDA support for GeForce 8,9 and GTX series graphics cards. By the way it won't be all before modified driver developers enables SLI on a CrossFire mobo or any other.
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