NVIDIA IS AGAIN seeking to expand the graphics card boundaries with a new SLI configuration – Triple SLI.
This rumour has been sweeping across gaming websites and forums this past week and shows no sign of abating. It began with a picture posted on Expreview.com of a motherboard with three Nvidia 8800 Ultra’s installed. Touted as Nvidia’s “new Ultimate Gaming Platform,” it remains to be seen as to whether this is simply a rumour or a valid advancement. Enough about the rumour aspect, however.
While there is little information available at the moment regarding triple SLI, there are a few things that have leaked out. Triple SLI support will initially be available for Nvidia’s top cards, the 8800GTX and the 8800 Ultra via a redesigned 3-way SLI bridge connector. Other GPUs may be supported down the road.
Nvidia Nforce 680i and the upcoming Nforce780i chipsets will power triple SLI with the former chipset supporting PCI Express 1.1/1.0a. The latter chipset will feature PCI Express 2.0 along with a special “BR04” switch to enable more efficient operation.
Obvious questions appear regarding this move, however. While triple SLI certainly has the potential of being rather powerful, drivers will determine its true performance.
If we remember last year when Nvidia released Quad-SLI technology, actual systems faltered due to poor driver support. Even now, current quad-SLI technology is not supported for Windows Vista. Also, dual-card configurations currently offer an improvement over single cards, but they do not double the performance increase. What makes us think that a triple-card setup will be that much better?
Beyond drivers, the physical properties of triple SLI come into play. Each 8800GTX or Ultra takes up two slots on a motherboard. Which means that the cards will be forced to stack one on top of each other. This, obviously, will allow for reduced airflow over the cards and these have already been proven to run hot. One wonders if a few extra fans would solve this problem or if the heat generated would force buyers to install water-cooled cards as a solution.
All in all, the triple SLI configuration seems a bit redundant with dual-card, and yes, quad-card configurations. While this is a rumour, it could very well be a gimmick by Nvidia to try and sucker buyers with far too much money to spend on graphics. Or, it could be the start of the Tri-Computing revolution. What with AMD triple-cored processors an that. µ
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