Just as ATI went for the launch of its answer to GeForce 3 - the Radeon 8500 baby - Nvidia came out of nowhere with a "performance driver", which solved several bugs and enabled GeForce3 to leapfrog over the newcomer.
A similar situation is bound to happen in the next three weeks. ATI is going to launch the R520 and a complete family of products and mainstream and low-end products will be available in heaps on October the 4th or the 5th, depending on which source you choose to believe.
Nvidia is busy right now finishing "ultimate-choice" drivers, ForceWare Rel80.
Rel80 will offer more flex to SLI than any previous driver ever did before. From now onwards, you will be "free", if you have enough cash, to mix different vendors at your preference. That does not mean you can plug a 7800GTX in a 6800GT system, rather the following:
a. You have bought the 6800GT from a Cherry for $400.
b. Would like to upgrade a bit, but Cherry's 6800GT isn't available anymore.
c. Plug in Apricot 6800GT which you bought for 200-220 dollars.
d. Install Rel80, enable SLI, don't need to reboot the system
e. Wurk. Wurk. Wurk. (grunt's speech from WarCraft III)
And if you dare to question whether clocks differ, or cheekily ask yourself: "First one has one DVI and one D-SUB, second one has DVI's only - what now?", the answer is that Rel80 does not give a fudge.
It'll work. Also, Rel80 supports different clocks on chips, so you can actually have a maximum overclock on both cards, regardless of the clock itself, mixing 7800GTX with 478/1310 MHz and 495/1340 - should be no problem at all.
Also, the Rel80 brings the end to one pain we have already written about, and that's vertical synchronisation. With new drivers, SLI will support Vsync on all combinations, which is something many owners have been praying for. Those that believe in god, or gods, that is.
There are also three things that were expected - dual core improvements, HDTV and Linux.
First of all, Rel80 should give your spankin' new dual core system (or an oldish Athlon MP) a new life, since the drivers are supposed to be multi-threaded, and offer some performance increase over single-core systems. As we have already seen on a out-dated, single-threaded benchmark named 3D Mark2001SE, a dual-core CPU can beat a single core one (4800+ broke 30K, 4000+/FX-53 can't) - and that's just the beginning.
Second of all, HDTV. With Rel80, you can freely connect your SLI setup to a standard or HD TV device, and play in whatever resolution you want. With speed of SLI, of course.
Thirdly, of all, Linux. From Rel80 onwards, Linux has full SLI support, so if you're have thought that penguins live on south pole only, those around the world can now spend money on putting an SLI setup and running... well, UT2004 and America's Army at least.
There is more information on Rel80, and the date of official posting is drawing near. Check www.nvidia.com on the eve of October 4th or 5th. If you want to check Rel80 today, albeit in beta, click on our complimentary L'INQ. Below. µ
ForceWare 81.26 Beta
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