Nvidia ends SLI lock down with Intel Core i7

Nvidia SLI
Nvidia has had to be a bit more free with SLI

Nvidia has announced that it will enable support for its SLI multi-GPU graphics platform on Intel's upcoming X58 motherboard chipset. Crucially, support for SLI on the X58 will not require an NVIDIA PCI Express chip.

Instead, Nvidia will introduce a certification scheme in which motherboard makers can submit their produce to Nvidia. In return for a currently undisclosed fee, Nvidia will then test and license boards as being fit for SLI.

The news comes as Nvidia's Nvision visual computing conference in San Francisco wraps up. Prior to the announcement, Nvidia had always maintained that SLI required the use of Nvidia motherboard silicon. Typically that meant a full Nvidia motherboard chipset.

The one exception was Intel's Skulltrail dual-socket platform, which featured an SLI-enabling Nvidia nForce 200 PCI Express chip.

We hope it's an Intel chip

Indeed, it was precisely this approach – an Intel chipset plus Nvidia PCI E chip – that we were previously expecting to be the minimum requirement to enable SLI on the upcoming X58 platform.

The X58 chipset, of course, is the high-end solution for Intel's new Core i7 CPU, due out later this year. In fact, it's the Core i7's revolutionary architecture that has probably forced Nvidia hand.

Out goes Intel's creaky old front side bus and in comes the swanky new QuickPath CPU interconnect. Nvidia has said that it will not be making chipsets supporting QuickPath. And that essentially means it is getting out of the Intel CPU chipset business.

Having previously indicated it would require the use of the nForce 200 chip, it seems Nvidia has had a change of heart. Our guess is that motherboard makers didn't fancy being forced to include the ultimately pointless nForce chip.

Of course, the X58 chipset will also support AMD's competing Crossfire multi-GPU solution. The upshot of which is that it finally looks like gamers will be able to mix and match motherboard and graphics technology as they choose. That's very good news indeed.


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