Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Graphics Software Hardware Entertainment Games

SLI Primer 275

Posted by Hemos
from the wave-of-the-future dept.
GFXguy writes "If you are looking to catch up on some hardware learning you may want to check out "SL Why?". It is a short article that goes over the basics of SLI graphics. The article goes over some strengths and weaknesses of this technology as well. It looks like one video card is not going to cut it any more, at least for the hardcore gamers out there. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SLI Primer

Comments Filter:
  • Voodoo (Score:2, Informative)

    by grahamsz (150076)
    Anyone else remember doing this with the old 3dfx voodoo cards... seems so long ago.
    • Re:Voodoo (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)
      Well, yes, I do indeed. a 12Meg Voodoo 2 i hijacked from work for a while to complement my lowly S3 Virge...quite an improvement indeed :)
      • Re:Voodoo (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ford Prefect (8777)
        Well, yes, I do indeed. a 12Meg Voodoo 2 i hijacked from work for a while to complement my lowly S3 Virge...quite an improvement indeed :)

        The old 3dfx 'SLI' thing involved not one but two Voodoo 2 cards, in addition to the conventional 2D graphics card - unless you happened to hijack a second, matching 3D card, you won't have had SLI... :-)
    • ahhh yeah.
      Dual voodoo2 with an overclocked celeron 300->450
      smokin!
    • Oh Yeah! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nrlightfoot (607666)
      The first time I ever had a video card upgrade was with an SLI add on card on my old 120mhz intel. There where clouds in mechwarrior after I installed it!
      • The first time I ever had a video card upgrade was with an SLI add on card on my old 120mhz intel. There where clouds in mechwarrior after I installed it!

        Considering how much heat modern graphic cards generates, if you put two in there I bet you will see clouds coming from your computer in no time!
  • So when.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moonlapse (802617) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:13AM (#11802430) Journal
    is RAIVC(Redundany Array of Video Cards) going to come out? I'd like a RAICV10 please.
    • You forgot the inexpensive, I think everyone else has too...
    • you'll have to remove the I from RAIVC, "Inexpensive" is not exactly what you'd call the current crop of video cards :)
      Maybe RAEVC.
      Figure that one out urself I'm not telling :p
  • SLI is overkill for 99.99% of people out there. In fact, onboard video is fine for probably 80-90% of the PC market.
    • Well, considering right now, at this point in time, the SLI benchmarks that I've seen do not even come close the the speed of a X800xl or X850xl. I've seen them, they come close, but two 6800 Ultras in SLI mode still can't match the X850. Why is this?

      Now, having said that...I can see the potential in the future for better performance, but since SLI is still very much in it's infancy, we'll have to wait.
      • Unfortunately most specs out there just demonstrate how cpu-limited the 2 6800 Ultras in SLI are.

        Even for a single 6800 ultra, the figures you see are *slightly* lower than ATI X800 in most benchmarks because the ATI deals *slightly* better with being CPU-limited. Those results have usually got nothing to do with maximum GPU performance because they often test at stupidly low res's like 640x400 or 800x600.

        Instead, look at the figures at the highest resolutions, where Nvidia still creams ATI.

        Actually the
    • by selderrr (523988) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:25AM (#11802557) Journal
      especially with the next generation of consoles coming out. What Sony or MS should do, is sell a PS3 or XBox2 on a PCI card, with possibility to use the PC audio card & storage. Then hardcore PC gamers can still look down on the cheapo console players :-)
    • Sure 80-90% of the "consumer" market. But what about that 100% of the 20-10% that are classifiable as gamers. Oh, and lets not forget that massive category of engineers, scientists, architects, and other professions that use 3d graphics heavily. When this technology was created it was not aimed at the general consumer market... it was aimed at the gamer and professional market. So to them it doesn't really matter if your average "Joe Blow" consumer doesn't use it, but that the core group of gamers and p
    • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:35AM (#11802652)
      I remember when people poo-pooed onboard video as pretty much useless.

      But Intel's very latest onboard graphics chipset is fairly good, and the latest onboard graphics from nVidia's motherboard chipsets are getting fairly good, too. Now, if we can just get VIA to upgrade their onboard graphics....
    • I bet it's more than that... your typical computer user is never going to need high-end graphics the way a gamer is (not until GUIs start taking advantage and interfaces change (think SphereXP). PC gaming is becoming similar to car racing as far as I am concerned. It's going to turn it into an industry for a small niche market. Watch games like Half-life go up in price to the $100 range in the next 5 years, as their margins drop and they become products only for this niche market of gamers that seem to
    • SLI is overkill for 99.99% of people out there. In fact, onboard video is fine for probably 80-90% of the PC market

      From TFA:

      "It looks like one video card is not going to cut it any more, at least for the hardcore gamers out there."

      This article obviously is not about the average consumer with their onboard video. It's about gamers who buy add-in 3d cards. The average user who only reads email and browses the internet won't be buying a $300 video card, let alone two $300 video cards to run in SLI mode.
      • This article obviously is not about the average consumer with their onboard video. It's about gamers who buy add-in 3d cards. The average user who only reads email and browses the internet won't be buying a $300 video card, let alone two $300 video cards to run in SLI mode.

        Well then, allow me to rephrase the parent's comment. SLI is overkill for 80-90% of gamers who buy add-in 3D cards. Spending $2-300 on a 3D video card is one thing, buying *2* $3-400 cards AND and SLI capable system is quite another.
    • "SLI is overkill for 99.99% of people out there. In fact, onboard video is fine for probably 80-90% of the PC market."

      I don't know how many PCs are out there, but I did read somewhere that there are 80 million Windows users. 10% of Windows users is 10 million PCs. Whether or not on-board video is good enough for 90% of the PCs out there, there' still a very large number to go after.
  • AFR / SFR error (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbretton (242493) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:15AM (#11802446) Homepage
    Doom 3 runs in SFR, not AFR as the article states.

    • Re:AFR / SFR error (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kaihaku (663794)
      The real question is who would want to play Doom3 anyway? Graphics are wonderful and all, although honestly I wasn't that impressed, but what about gameplay or prehaps a story that doesn't remind one of a mix of the original Half-life and System Shock with some hell through in for kicks. I was much, much more impressed with the physics engine of Half-life 2 than with anything graphically I saw in Doom 3.

      I'm one of those people who believe that this rush for graphical perfect will be dying slowly over the n
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:15AM (#11802447)
    All the serious gamers will have 2 PCs connected in series to their monitor..one just for all the video rendering, and one for everything else.
    • Noob (Score:3, Funny)

      by xRelisH (647464)
      I have over 1 million PC's connected together in one large cluster, each responsible one pixel on my display with load balancing just in case a certain pixel is more complex than another.

      Now that's serious gaming.
  • by FirienFirien (857374) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:15AM (#11802449) Homepage
    So now we have the addition of parallel graphics cards on top of the already parallel CPUs; we've had parallel keyboards and mice ability for a long time, and parallel fans kinda vaguely came along too. Parallel HDs exist with extra drives, I'm not sure how RAM extensions are accessed but they're probably classable as parallel too. Technology over the past 15 years: pushing an entire computer lab into a single computer. Considering that we'll have computer labs with these computers in...
      • Parallel CPUs: SMP
      • Parallel graphics cards: SLI
      • Parallel RAM: Dual channel memory
      • Parallel HDs: RAID
      • Parallel monitors: Dual-head cards or OS support for multiple cards
      • Parallel NICs: Multihoming, multipoint PPP over "double 56k" modems
      • Parallel keyboards and mice: USB and daisychaining
      Maybe in the future, each workstation in a lab will have its own Beowulf cluster...
  • I hadn't really thought about SLI before reading this article. Now that I've read it over, it does seem like an interesting technology. It's quite possible that my next motherboard will support two graphics cards.

    A point that has been concerning me is that SLI operation cannot be forced in non-compatible games.
    That is worrisome..., but as the article mentions, the major games are supported now. ...and possibly with more people using SLI, more games will be supported with it.

    I especially like t
    • by way2trivial (601132) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:41AM (#11802693) Homepage Journal
      you do realize how spot on identicle they must be?

      same revision, same card almost?

      ever tried to add a 2nd CPU to a multi CPU system 18 months later?

      • Actually I have (It was 2.5 years later). I couldn't find the match, but I was able to find two newer processors that were better *and* cheaper than I paid for the original one =) They weren't top-of-the-line, but acceptable for my needs. Hardware is great like that... the costs are continuously declining.

        The same thing might happen with graphics cards. If you can use two mediocre cards instead of one big beefy card, it's possible you might be able to save yourself some money.
  • Other upgrades (Score:4, Informative)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:17AM (#11802478)
    I think it likely after RTFA that other upgrades would give you more of a boost for your money. For instance, setting up an IDE RAID 5 array with a read/write caching hardware RAID controller would give almost everyone a huge speed increase for all of their applications, not just graphics ones.

    Even just adding a second fast hard drive and placing your paging file on that with your OS on your first hard drive would give most users a big bump in speed.

    I could go on, but I think on a list of 10 things to do, taking advtange of SLI is probably number 9 or 10.
    • For instance, setting up an IDE RAID 5 array with a read/write caching hardware RAID controller would give almost everyone a huge speed increase for all of their applications, not just graphics ones.

      Even just adding a second fast hard drive and placing your paging file on that with your OS on your first hard drive would give most users a big bump in speed.


      Yup. And getting more regular oil and filter changes would give most users better gas mileage.

      But neither upgrade is going to increase their video ga
  • What about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Have Blue (616) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:19AM (#11802499) Homepage
    What about those of us who want to spend a sane amount of money on their computers? Gamers are getting almost as bad as audiophiles these days.
    • What about those of us who want to spend a sane amount of money on their computers? Gamers are getting almost as bad as audiophiles these days.

      Agreed - and, in a manner similar to those audiophiles, these 'hardcore gamers' seem to spend far more time discussing framerates and hardware upgrades than they do on the games themselves...

      Although I do have to thank them for making medium-range PC kit affordable for the rest of them. Early adopters with bottomless wallets, we salute you! ;-)
      • Well, considering your sig, have you ever dealt with Leica Freaks who spend their life photographing lens test charts and then looking at them with loupes without actually USING the thing to take pics??
    • Re:What about... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by randyest (589159) on Monday February 28, 2005 @11:08AM (#11802997) Homepage
      What about you? There will always be older, cheaper hardware available and you can just get one of them instead of two.

      There's one of you in every thread about something new or high-end:

      "A cellphone with a camera and flamethrower? What about those of us who just want to make a call?!"

      "A GPS that drives for me? What about those of us who just want to download directions ?!"

      "A computer with two graphics cards? What about those of us who just want to play minesweeper and read email?!"


      I don't get it; does it really bother you so much that there are some people who want more or different performance levels than you?

      Do you not realize that the very existence of high-end products helps drive down prices for the lower-end stuff you so desire?

      • It's not so much "I don't need it" as the zero or negligible performance gains [tomshardware.com] SLI results in. If it was actually an improvement on a cheaper solution I wouldn't care, but they are literally throwing away money, and rather a lot of it.
        • The very page you just linked to shows a near-doubled increase in framerates between the 6800GT and the 6800GT SLI at 1600x1200, all options on. That's not negligable where I come from. Now, granted, not everybody's playing at those resolutions, but a lot of people are. For them SLI does provide a much-needed (if expensive) boost of speed.

          You also completely neglect the fact that it makes a lot of sense to pick up an SLI motherboard and one video card, and then later on down the line when new games come ou
        • But thats the entire point. Its THEIR money THEY are throwing away. Nobody gives a damn what YOU think about what they do with their own money

          And their money funds Nvidia's research so you can play minesweeper cheaper in any case.

          If other enthusiasts blow their money on penis-extending toys its their own friggin problem.
  • by Thai-Pan (414112) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:20AM (#11802506) Journal
    The article claims first that you need a $250 motherboard to run SLI (apparently a $75 premium for SLI), and second that you need to pay a large premium for SLI-compatible cards, which are next to impossible to find.

    I'm running a $160 motherboard with two 6800GTs that I picked up for a good price at my local shop. They did not have a single PCIe 6600 or 6800 board there that wasn't SLI compatible.
  • Why SLI? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by caryw (131578)
    For the serious gamer how about something like a cell [slashdot.org] GPU? Why not? It should be entirely possible. Or maybe even a dual-core GPU. Anything that is possible with the CPU is also with the GPU. It's just a microprocessor with a different instruction set. That being said, why can't we plug "CPU cards" into eachother for automatic performance increases? How much of this is limitation on technology and how much are the big players stifling innovation in the market?
    - Cary
    --Fairfax Underground [fairfaxunderground.com]: Where Fairfax
  • I thought SLI stood for Scan Line Interleaving. "Scaleable Link Interface" is completly vauge. Did they change the technology and keep the old name, or is this writer just an idiot?
    • by ZagNuts (789429) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:38AM (#11802673) Journal
      I thought SLI stood for Scan Line Interleaving. "Scaleable Link Interface" is completly vauge. Did they change the technology and keep the old name, or is this writer just an idiot?

      Upon further investigation it seems that nVidia's SLI stands for "Scaleable Link Interface", but you are correct in noting that it used to stand for "Scan Line Interleaving". They likely wanted to keep the acronym so that people would know what the technology's function was, but Scan Line Interleaving would be non-despcriptive, as their cards don't interleave at all, each renders approximately half of the screen.
    • The technology has changed. While the Voodoo cards used to simply draw every other line on the screen when they were SLI'ed together, today's cards work very differently.

      In a nutshell, one SLI'ed card will (attempt) to draw the top half of the screen while the other card draws the bottom half. Now, there are exceptions to this, and this is the biggest change.

      If say, the top half of the screen does not have as high a polycount as the bottom half the underperforming card will pick up some of the slack f
  • My old Silicon Graphics (prior to the silly name change to SGI - let's face it, is a way cooler name) workstations were available with various combinations quantities video memory and graphics engines (GEs).

    I'd much prefer to have a single video board with multiple GEs rather than multiple video boards.
  • Asinine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dragoon412 (648209) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:31AM (#11802624)
    It looks like one video card is not going to cut it any more, at least for the hardcore gamers out there.

    What a stupid comment.

    Currently, the best video performance out there is a pair of 6800 Ultras in SLI, it's true, but that's also well over $1000 in video hardware alone.

    Meanwhile, single-card solutions like the X850XT PE are capable of chewing through anything you can throw at them with admirable performance.

    SLI is a lot like the tablet PC: a solution in search of a problem. Sure, it's a cool idea, but in practice, not terribly useful and very much overpriced.

    Compare, for instance, a pair of 6600GTs running SLI:

    $175 for each card; $350 total. Another $50 for the premium on a SLI mainboard.

    Now you've got additional heat, additional power draw, two seperate cards, and the hassle of dealing with SLI drivers when, for $100 less, you could purchase a single X800XL and enjoy superior performance [tomshardware.com].

    SLI may become worthwhile in the future, but for now, it's the exclusive domain of chumps and the e-penis crowd.
    • Superior... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dbretton (242493)

      And Inferior Performance [tomshardware.com].

      Same article, two pages earlier.

      Oh yeah, and the cheapest you can find an X800 XL is $350, not $200/300.
      • Re:Superior... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dragoon412 (648209)
        CompUSA is using the MSRP; you can pick up the ATi-manufactured one there for $300.

        Point being, the 6600 GT is the most credible instance of an SLI implimentation. The cost/performance of a pair of 6800 GTs or 6800 Ultras compared to a single X850XT PE is just laughably bad.
    • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Insightful)

      by friedmud (512466) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:59AM (#11802880)
      I just upgraded my computer after having the same one for 4 years... which as a CS major (well, I just graduated) is a pretty long time. How do I make my computer stretch so far? Buy upgradeable solutions up front... and that's exactly what I did this time.

      I bought an SLI mobo (MSI K8N Platinum SLI)... put the slowest 939 pin Athlon64 I could find (3500+) (the price ramps up significantly passed this point).... then I bought _ONE_ Geforce6800 GT and 1GB of RAM in two sticks (leaving two slots open)... and finally a 535 watt SLI power supply.... Then hooked it all up to a new 19" Flat Panel.

      All in all I paid about $1600... which is a little bit but let's look at the upgradeability.

      First of all there's the obvious SLI slot. In about a year when 6800GT's are $150... I'll be able to nearly DOUBLE my performance in games. That's a pretty good upgrade.

      I left two RAM slots open so I can jam another set of 1GB sticks in there in a year and have 3GB.

      The newly announced dual core chips from AMD will work in my current 939 socket... with a BIOS upgrade... so I will be able to again almost DOUBLE my CPU performance (blah threads, blah, I do a lot of compiling and stuff so it will be a big upgrade for me)

      So there you have it. I didn't spend a million dollars... but my computer is REALLY future proof. I probably won't do another $1500 upgrade until about 3 to 4 years from now... and like I mentioned I'm a fairly heavy computer user.

      So for me SLI is future proofing my system, and I, for one, am grateful!

      Friedmud
      • Re:Asinine (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dragoon412 (648209)
        Did you even bother to look at the benchmarks I linked?

        Your 19" LCD is native to 1280x1024, which is a fairly low resolution. By adding a second 6800 GT, even with AA and AF cranked up, you can't hope to get anything near double the performance. If you get even an extra 15% to your framerate, I'd be amazed.

        And again, dual core CPUs won't be coming anywhere near doubling your performance. They're essentially SMP on a single chip. They'll help with compiling, yes, but gaming? It amounts to a lot of nothing.
        • ... And once enough consumers have SMP machines, game developers will reach a tipping point at which they'll start writing code that takes advantage of the second processor, and then more gamers will buy SMP machines to improve performance and the industry will have changed.

          Besides, although SMP might not help much for gaming, it will help with a variety of other tasks; when I have a variety of software running (esp. Photoshop and anything else), I often wish I had two processors.

    • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2005 @11:00AM (#11802889)
      "SLI is a lot like the tablet PC: a solution in search of a problem. Sure, it's a cool idea, but in practice, not terribly useful and very much overpriced."

      I think in fact, that SLI was a solution to a VERY SPECIFIC problem;

      GFX Card Company Guy #1; we can't get away with $1000 for a video card...

      GFX Company Guy #2; No, but for TWO video cards... (Evil Laugh)
    • e-penis

      I learned a new word today!
  • by rlp (11898)
    I don't understand why anyone except a small group of enthusiasts would still play PC games. Sure, there's a better interface and higher resolution. But, game installation is generally a true pain - install the game, update the drivers, download the patches, fiddle with the game options, rinse, repeat. Then there's the constant need to install new upgraded hardware (like a new $250 video card) to play tne next version of a game.

    Contrast with purchasing a console, hooking it up to the TV, popping in the
    • by raynet11 (844558)
      That's a valid point, I have both x-box and PC for gaming. It comes down to patience, do I want to wait a few years for Half-Life 2 or far cry to be ported to my console or do I want to play it now? If you don't mind the wait then do so, most hard core gamers are not going to wait. I didn't wait for Half-Life two but in case of Doom, I going to wait for the x-box port.
    • by dbretton (242493) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:49AM (#11802778) Homepage

      I suppose this may be true if you are a fan of Grand Turismo. However, aside from that, consoles just don't cut the muster. MMORPG and FPS games don't play very well on consoles when compared to their PC counterpart. Even the "greatest" console FPS, Halo, is just mediocre on the PC.

      As far as console first development goes...
      Here's a list of PC games that are still not released for the consoles: Doom 3, Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, Far Cry, Painkiller.
      • consoles just don't cut the muster

        Did you intentionally mix this metaphor? If not, you probably meant 'pass muster'. Alternatively, you might have meant 'cut the mustard'. Either way, you don't 'cut the muster'.

        Cut the mustard [yaelf.com]

        Pass Muster [usingenglish.com]

        Please don't flame me. I'm just trying to help; I'm not intending any disparagement whatsoever. You are, of course, free to ignore my advice entirely.
      • Here's a list of PC games that are still not released for the consoles: Doom 3, Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, Far Cry, Painkiller.

        Are any of these games worth the extra $2000 you'd have to spend to upgrade a modest but competent home computer to a bleeding-edge "gaming" computer?

        If I answered "yes" to that question, I'd seriously reconsider what my priorities were.
        • Silly boy, it doesn't cost $2000. To run HL2 etc. you need only a GF4 to run acceptably. Nowadays GF5s sell for a hundred bucks or so. Most PCs coming out, intended for office work or internet use, have very good CPU and memory stats, so all you're paying for is the card.

          Which is often a lot cheaper than a console.
    • Interface (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Craig Ringer (302899)
      For me, that's just it - the interface. Higher resolution helps, as does my pro quality 19" monitor, but it's the interface that's the killer.

      Show me a mouse that ships with a keyboard and mouse so console developers can *rely* on them being present, and I might care about console games. Hell, just the mouse would do, though mouse-and-controller would be more than a tad clumsy :S

      As it is, I find most games I care about (RTS, strategy games, and games like Deus Ex and System Shock II) either don't exist fo

      • Same here. Unless I can plug the mouse and keyboard into a console and play Q3A I'm not going to consider them seriously.
  • by dbretton (242493) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:37AM (#11802659) Homepage
    #1) Doom 3 runs in SFR mode, not AFR.

    #2) CPU issue is overblown. I'm not even sure if any additional information is truly sent to the processor.
    In AFR, the data for each frame is sent to alternating graphics cards. Since the frames would have been processed anyway, there is not any additional load on the CPU than there would be for an identical system with a video card that is twice as powerful as in an SLI system.
    In SFR, the same data is sent to two graphics cards. This would be more data, but seemingly require only a smidgen more CPU power. The video cards send the data between each other over a dedicated bridge, and the video cards handle the task of reassembling the image into a single frame.

    #3) SLI card cost. 6600GT AGP cards cost more than their PCIe counterpart. 6800 AGP cards cost less. This has more to do with the amount of time in the market than anything else. In 3 months, the prices will be equal.

    #4) Stability. "...certain older cards that are said to be SLI compatible have serious stability problems when used with SLI, but, for example, not all 6800 GT cards can be used with SLI". To date, I have not seen a PCIe 6600GT or 6800GT card released which is not SLI compatible. Not all 6800GT cards can be used with SLI, but that has more to do with the fact that many cards are AGP based and older than two months (when the first SLI motherboards were released).

    #5) No benefit. "From what I heard, more than a few games realize no FPS gains at all from the addition of a second video card". First, this is rumor. Many games realize no benefit at low resolutions (640x480, some at 800x600) because the games are more CPU bound than video card bound. All the games that are SLI compatible definitely realize solid FPS gains. Moreover, those gains can be "converted" into graphics enhancements (i.e. no need to go from 60fps to 95 fps, but now you can turn on 8xAA or up the screen resolution, etc.)

    #6) Dual GPU cards. The author obviously doesn't know what he's talking about here. The Gigabyte dual GPU card is just an SLI solution on a single graphics card. It's (almost) exactly the same as having 2x6600GT cards. It uses the same technology and produces the same results. So what's this viable new technology on the horizon he is talking about?

    #7) SLI cannot be forced. Of course it can! The default mode is "no SLI". This can be changed in the configuration options for the card.

    • by Dragoon412 (648209) on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:58AM (#11802872)
      #5) No benefit. "From what I heard, more than a few games realize no FPS gains at all from the addition of a second video card". First, this is rumor. Many games realize no benefit at low resolutions (640x480, some at 800x600) because the games are more CPU bound than video card bound. All the games that are SLI compatible definitely realize solid FPS gains. Moreover, those gains can be "converted" into graphics enhancements (i.e. no need to go from 60fps to 95 fps, but now you can turn on 8xAA or up the screen resolution, etc.)

      Relative to the cost, the performance gain for SLI is negligable. Take a look at the benchmarks [tomshardware.com] - for the $1100+ you'd spend on a pair of 6800 Ultras, or the $750+ you'd spend on a pair of 6800 GTs, you could obtain nearly identical performance with a $525 X850XT PE, with far less wattage and heat.

      #6) Dual GPU cards. The author obviously doesn't know what he's talking about here. The Gigabyte dual GPU card is just an SLI solution on a single graphics card. It's (almost) exactly the same as having 2x6600GT cards. It uses the same technology and produces the same results. So what's this viable new technology on the horizon he is talking about?

      That Gigabyte single-board SLI implimentation? It's a big piece of crap [anandtech.com].
    • The author's point with the CPU issue is almost certainly that you've removed your video card bottleneck, and are quite likely to hit a CPU bottleneck as a result. This seems entirely sensible to me, and matches my experience when upgrading video cards in the past.

      You won't need a faster CPU for SLI, but if you don't get one (or already have a really fast one) you're unlikely to get the full benefits of the enormous truckload of money you dropped on video cards. That's my understanding, anyway.

      As for dual
  • SLI-who needs it? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Watersharer (209011) <marcbryce&hotmail,com> on Monday February 28, 2005 @10:45AM (#11802738)
    For some of us, SLI is not a new technology, although the current method is slightly different than the old VooDoo SLI. But after years of gaming, one thing stands out to me. You DON'T need the latest and greatest stuff to run games in most cases. Better to use your hardware budget wisely than to splurge on ultra-swank single components.

    I run an AMD 1700, on an ABIT mainboard, with an old ATI9600. Not the pro, but the $79 budget card. I have no exotic cooling, just a nice sink and fan. I added a good copper fan unit to the videocard, which came with passive cooling. I use the features of the Abit MB to run the 1700 at 2.11Ghz, and the video got a 80Mhz bump. I see over 70fps in the CS:Source test, and average around 55-60 online. All for about the cost of one video card.
  • by rkischuk (463111)
    The ongoing arms race in PC graphics is exactly the reason I own 2 graphics cards. One in my GameCube, one in my PS2. For the price of a serious gaming setup these days, I can buy a solid non-gaming desktop and 2 gaming consoles, and only upgrade every 5 years. Plus I can sit back on the couch while I play.

    I used to be a huge upgrade-your-homebuilt-beige-box-every-6-months advocate, but the cost structure and rewards have changed. If you want to play primarily RTS and FPS games, a PC may still be your

    • But console games are brainless compared to PC games.

      Theres no such thing as a good flight sim or a tactical game like Rome:Total War on a console. Thats the only reason Halo was so successful, because most other console games are lame.

      On PC, Halo can't even compare to Doom3, Halflife 2 or Unreal Tournament.

  • Roundup (Score:2, Informative)

    by haelduksf (812679)
    For anyone who is interested, Anandtech has posted a round-up [anandtech.com] of the four SLI boards on the market (DFI, ASUS, MSI & Gigabyte) which includes some conclusions of their own about usability, value and performance.
  • by null etc. (524767)
    It looks like one video card is not going to cut it any more, at least for the hardcore gamers out there.

    One video card will more than enough "cut it", at least until Unreal Engine 3 is released.

    Also keep in mind that it will soon become a standard process to integrate multiple GPUs onto a single video card. This has the benefits of SLI performance while reducing voltage and memory requirements.

  • I read the headline as "SLI Printer" and was wondering why would you want that dramatic of a speed enhancment with printing.
    • Have you ever had to print a bunch of color copies on a normal printer? 5-7PPM and you're *lucky*. I'd pay for some way to double my laser printer's speed. In fact, I'd be much more likely to pay for that than this snake oil video card stuff. Sure, it may work well and provide benefits in the future, but right now you might as well stick with one video card. ROI is much greater that way.
  • Great news dudes and dudettes. Now let me stay out of this fray and install Windows in such a way that bypasses this requirement if I so choose. The idea that I'll have to buy an expensive video adapter to not play games only a horny teenager could love makes we want to blow up Redmond campus. There for shit sure better be a way to avoid this or the stink of collusion between Microsoft and game hardware builders will reek to heaven.

    I will never play videogames on any of my home computers and I will not upg
  • I think all games should be programed to run on Beowulf clusters, that way you could spend as much as you wanted on your gaming system, rather than being limited to a paltry $5000 or so that you might be able to dump into one computer.
  • The article seemed to lean twoards, "I love the free SLI stuff that NVIDIA sent me, but don't take my word for it."

    Anandtech posted such a nice article [anandtech.com] on actual retail SLI boards and their qwirks just recently. The boards featured in that review were actually modestly priced as well, contrary to XYZ's thoughts on SLI.
  • Wake me up when the lo and behold, puts two SLI on one card and it becomes useful! Ohh wait, 3DFX...
  • The fact is, most people out there own prebuilt computers. And as far as I know, Dell isn't making any SLI boards. Hell, you're lucky you can get a geforce 6600 from them. Since two PCIe slots cost more than one, don't expect anything from Dell.

    And since none of the OEMs support it, very few game makers will bother with it. Which means those "hardcore" gamers will be paying through the nose for very little performance gains in several applications. And don't expect your open source Linux games to get a dec
  • I have two GeForce 6800GTs running in SLI mode.

    The article fails to mention that to go into SLI mode requires a reboot. I have dual monitors. Only one monitor can be used in SLI mode, so when I get back to work, I need to reboot again.

    I've read around saying that this is a driver issue that will be addressed in a few months. But it's nonetheless annoying.

  • by Foo2rama (755806) on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:36PM (#11808023) Homepage Journal
    This may be one of the worst SLI articles I have read so far. This guy makes assumptions and passes them off as fact. He also makes some statements that belie his lack of knowledge about systems and speeds of procs as well as potential bottlenecks in the system. While SLI may be a good idea in the long run currently it is just a very expensive toy for certian gamers to brag about. Actual performance increases have been around 30% in most of the tests I have seen so far. That extra $200(6600gt) to 380(6800gt) spent on the 2nd video card combined with the extra $100 you will have to spend on the motherboard is better invested in other places on the system. upgradeing to a almost top amd64 or gasp a p4 will in the end get you better speeds in the majority of games. For sli functionality the driver has to support the game, and so far few games have been selected by nvidia to have the drivers writtin for it.

    SLI does have some potential advantages that this writer has not covered. In 3d rendering, real time editing or special effects work this type of setup would be a huge boost to speed and productity. The fact that this generation of cards have programmable shaders, means that in theory these cards can pull some processing functions off of the cpu. Currently people are starting to experiment on how to use these powerfull graphic cards as almost secondary cpu's.

    Currently my amd 64 3200 with a 6800gt performs amazingly in doom III and HLII at large resolutions with AA and AF. Ironically esp in HLII the bottleneck is the processor as the game has to compute the large physics calcs demanded by HLII. WIth graphics getting as advanced as they are I think we will be seeing a return to proc based performance gains, and a slow down of video card performance increases. As games will be putting more of a draw on the CPU. The graphics are real, now the environment is getting real.

    Personally I feel that SLI is very much like the P4EE an incredibly expensive add-on/upgrade for very very high end gamers that do not care about price, or are easily swayed by marketing. At this point SLI makes no sense. The power is not needed at this point, the price performance ratio is way out of skew, and it's future is in doubt. Nvidia has to supply the drivers for these games, and as far as I know no games are currently being written with SLI in mind. Lets check back in a year and see how it goes and where this tech has gone. And as a parting thought why has nvidia not started using this tech in the commerical sector????

The major difference between bonds and bond traders is that the bonds will eventually mature.

Working...