Nvidia acquired 3DFX and all of the Voodoo marchitectures and continued working on SLI solution and presented it to the world and made it available for consumers in very late 2004. Nvidia is shipping SLI enabled chipsets and cards ever since. It will start shipping Intel version of SLI chipset soon and boards are expected in retail by the end of the month. From the summer ATI realized that it can not beat two cards with its one card. Two 6800 Ultras will cost you 1000+ but will end up faster than faster single card Radeon X850XT Platinum edition. It started working on the solution to bring its answer to Nvidia SLI. ATI has multi chip rendering ability ever since it introduced Radeon 9700 PRO based on X300 core. It was shipping it for commercial flight simulators and military but was able to make two or more cards working together ever since. Only problem was to develop DirectX part of the multi VPU driver as all this military and simulation systems where using OpenGL as its API. ATI is working on that ever since and it claims that its driver will be ready. ATI presented Multi VPU at Cebit under the closed doors and is going towards planned summer introduction. ATI claims that its way is much better than Nvidias and much more compatible with games but we will have to wait and see are those claims actually true.
Its shame to learn that ATI had this in its hands for quite some time but it could not realize that there is a market for two high end or mainstream cards sold in SLI systems. Nvidia did it and ATI just decided to take its part of that juicy cake. At least in this particular case this makes Nvidia leader and ATI follower and Nvidia showed us that is still has a potential to fight back. ATI is kind of leader two as it lead in Shader model 2.0 introduction and DirectX 9.0 hardware introduction but its kind of taking its breath till its reintroduce R520 and take over performance crown one more time. One year ATI will say that Shader model 2.0 is great stuff and that it wants to lead the marchitecture but second year will say that Shader model 2.0b is actually enough when Nvidia managed to introduce Shader model 3.0. There is always excuse and ATI said that momentum was not right and company was right about it but from summer 2005 it will make noise about it as every R5xx will be Shader model 3.x compliant. We have strong reasons to believe that Nvidia and ATI are going to over throne each other every second generation of the products. If ATI outsmarts Nvidia this year Nvidia will work twice as hard to fight Nvidia with next generation. Its an endless loop and I don't see any of the company winning it but consumers will get better features for the price as long as Nvidia and ATI keep fighting. µ
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