3-Way SLI here in November?

By Justin Mann on October 11, 2007, 3:33 PM
When the concept of bonding multiple GPUs to boost performance first emerged years ago, it was looked at with a bit of awe. Due to power and cost issues, it didn't quite take off the 3DFX Voodoo 5 is a classic example of this. When round two came into play and Nvidia offered a relatively low-cost way to double up on video cards, people loved it.

Even today, though vendor support for SLI is less than stellar, it has taken off and remains one of the most popular ways to deck out newer systems. Of course, if you can add two cards to a system it'll only be a matter of time before people want to add three.

Thus, it's no big surprise at all to see Nvidia getting ready to make three-way SLI possible. In about a month from now, Nvidia will likely be launching their refresh to SLI with the ability to put up to three cards in such a configuration. There are a few caveats: It requires new drivers, a particular chipset and particular cards:

However, to get 3-way SLI up and running, there are a few requirements. Firstly you need a 3-way SLI drivers. Secondly, you need either a 680i SLI or the upcoming 780a/780i SLI board with at least 3 PCIe x16 slots. Thirdly, you need either GeForce 8800 Ultra or GeForce 8800 GTX cards as these cards have 2 SLI connectors on each card. Even the upcoming G92 cards will not support since it has only 1 SLI connector. Fourthly, you would need a 3-way SLI bridge card.
All of that sounds very expensive, but sometimes extreme performance comes at a cost. Still, even if it costs an arm and a leg, it's impressive to think of and even nicer to look at. Just make sure you have a 1500W PSU ready to handle the load of your new space heater.




User Comments: 11

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icye said:
There will be always a market for the extreme power users who will spend money on the best parts for the best gaming experience. Just by getting 3 Geforce 8800 Ultras, i680 motherboard will be around $3,000 CDN including taxes. The unknown is the 3-way SLI bridge, whether it will be a separate item that needs to be ordered from the video card manufacturer or from the motherboard manufacturer. These logistics need to be sorted out before fully launching 3-way SLI which hopefully be solved with the 7xx series nForce boards.The writer stated correctly about a 3-way SLI computer being a space heater. There is also the energy bill to be concern about since Nvidia video cards are juiced.[Edited by icye on 2007-10-11 16:12:05]
spydercanopus said:
NVIDIA had a QUAD SLI system a while back. This is not news.
peas said:
Waste of money, electricity and time getting such a setup stable. It's one of those show-off technologies to prop up the rest of Nvidia's products. Kinda like how Honda races their supercars hoping that people will equate that with normal passenger vehicles.
Julio said:
I agree that this is all in part gimmick, but we will see.I always thought of SLI as a nice upgrade path from a single to a second card later (for less money), but with added features and changes being made with every new generation of graphics cards, it seems it's always worth more upgrading to the next generation product rather than adding the second card.
icye said:
I tried Quad SLI a few weeks back with a pair of evga 7950GX2 1gb cards and it was like a furnace in my case. The cards were hot enough to fry eggs on there and even one of the capacitors fell off, more like a bad soldering job made worst by the heat. Its going to take some creative work inside the case to make sure the cards don't overheat and the computer becomes an nFurnace.
9Nails said:
Can I argue that SLI stifles production of fast GPU's here? It's too easy for an Engineer to use the excuse to design a brilliant GPU when they can exit the argument with a simple; "We'll just add too of these slower ones together to make the improvements."As a believer in K.I.S.S., (Keep It Simple Stupid!) I'd rather have a single fast card than a complex solution.
Julio said:
[b]Originally posted by 9Nails:[/b][quote]Can I argue that SLI stifles production of fast GPU's here?[/quote]You may remember a few years ago that ATI tried to push that concept and 3dfx before them. Thankfully it has not transcended further and indeed good progress is being made on every generation of new graphics chips.
Fornacis said:
I'm still trying to 3-Way my Voodoo BlackMajic 3D accelerator cards......
uhatemedoncha said:
Well... I own 2 8800GTX in SLI and its much faster than a single card configuration. Benches and my personal experience have proved it a beneficial technology. Eventually there will be dual and quad core gpus and after those something even better. Doubling a single technology doesn't hinder R&D for new technologies. I would go as far as to say it fuels (in $) R&D for new tech. As we have seen in multi core tech 2+ (with proper utilization) is better than one. If you don't want to spend the money on it just say that. Don't bad mouth a tech because it beyond your finacial reach. If you don't have GTX or Ultra SLI right now the tri-SLi option is probably not for you but for those of us who do why not? I had Quad before and it was ok for its time but the issue there was DX9 could not utilize or integrate 4 video sources it could only do 3 at a time plus the cards the used were 7900GTs instead of the then top of the line 7900GTX (which I had in SLI before quad) boards. So you always had one card doing pretty much nothing but taking up space and generating heat. Quads issues were many so I won't go into all of that...If this Tri-SLI thing ever happens I'll be moving to VGA water cooling to avoid the definate heat issues that arise. GTX Water blocks are about 80 bucks these days and a water cooling systems have dropped in price as well. I'm sure they'll drop even more for X-Mas. I'm not saying it isn't going to cost a pretty penny but worst comes to worse I sell everything individually on ebay and get a DX10.1 Sli setup going. Thats what I did with my Quad (2x7950GX2) to the 8800GTX SLi setup(I used eVGA's Step-Up program to go from my 7900GTX setup to Quad 2x7950GX2). Thats the beauty in buying a top end GPU. If you sell it before its bust you only end up spending about a quarter of the upgrade cost to get all new stuff. If your really clever you'll buy eVGA equipement cuz they let you "step-up" to the next model if it comes out withing 3 months. Oh and one more thing... whats is so complex about 1 + 1 = 2?
icye said:
Two or more cards is always better than one when it comes to running computer games on resolutions of 1920 x 1200 or higher with acceptable frame rates. One Geforce 8800 Ultra gives good frame rates, with 2 the frame rates go up, giving a more smoother experience when playing DX 10 games. With a new nForce chipset coming, it will support faster GPUs and gives the user the option to use SLI for their needs. I hope that the upcoming 7 series of nForce will have a SLI connector that has an extra socket on the bridge that will fit a 3rd video card.
icye said:
The diagram on the website presents an interesting design, it would look good inside a case without a side panel. If the 3-way SLI bridge looks like what is drawn in the diagram, all these SLI bridges connecting the 3 cards together would look messy. All that it needs is what I mentioned above is to add another connector to the existing SLI bridge card that comes with the nforce motherboards.
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