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SLI Primer

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the wave-of-the-future dept.

Graphics 275

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. "

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fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802426)

mofo

Voodoo (2, Informative)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802427)

Anyone else remember doing this with the old 3dfx voodoo cards... seems so long ago.

Re:Voodoo (2, Interesting)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802452)

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 (2, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802640)

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... :-)

Re:Voodoo (1)

Solosoft (622322) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802840)

The 3Dfx Voodoo 5 has SLI also. Somthing in which I wish linux would support but probably won't :(

Meaning this nice big power hogging card is simply a overglorified Voodoo4

If anyones bored tonite they could write some linux Voodoo 5 SLI drivers ;-)

Re:Voodoo (1)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802479)

ahhh yeah.
Dual voodoo2 with an overclocked celeron 300->450
smokin!

Re:Voodoo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802507)

Because it was so long ago you insensitive clod!

Oh Yeah! (2, Interesting)

nrlightfoot (607666) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802532)

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!

Re:Voodoo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802607)

Yeah, somebody remembers it in every article about SLI. It's pretty much a troll post now.

So when.... (5, Funny)

Moonlapse (802617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802430)

is RAIVC(Redundany Array of Video Cards) going to come out? I'd like a RAICV10 please.

Re:So when.... (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802594)

You forgot the inexpensive, I think everyone else has too...

Re:So when.... (1)

Moonlapse (802617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802638)

Actually, i think its 'Independent'

Re:So when.... (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802815)

well what do you know? I had never heard that before, but apparently they're both correct [webopedia.com] .

Re:So when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802614)

Never. There's no such thing as an inexpensive video card, which would be required for a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Video Cards.

Re:So when.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802695)

First: it's INDEPENDANT not inexpensive.

Second: it's DEVICES, not disks. (so you can, should you decide, RAID printers...)

Third: its a REDUNDANT ARRAY (meaning you wouldn't be using both video cards at the same time you would have 1 in use and one spare for when it melted, giving RAID-1 video)

Re:So when.... (2, Funny)

Chris Kamel (813292) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802747)

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

Single video card not going to cut it? (2, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802433)

SLI is overkill for 99.99% of people out there. In fact, onboard video is fine for probably 80-90% of the PC market.

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (1, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802470)

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.

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802556)

not knowing how much an x850 costs, how much bang do you get for your buck though? surely dual 6800 are cheaper?

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802596)

not knowing how much an x850 costs, how much bang do you get for your buck though? surely dual 6800 are cheaper?

Check your prices...I can get a X850 for around 525...two 6800's will run you up to like 800.

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (1)

winterdrake (823887) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802511)

Overkill aside, it comes under the "interesting idea, bad implementation" category. Until they make it work right, screw it.

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (3, Funny)

selderrr (523988) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802557)

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 :-)

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (2, Interesting)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802629)

You do realize, don't you, that super duper hyper mondo killa consoles that will eviscerate PCs and put an end to them for gaming once and for all has been predicted for about two decades now?

Amazing how everything old is new again. Everything under the sun.

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (5, Funny)

deathazre (761949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802802)

well, the xbox has sure put an end to gaming on old celeron 733 machines with old video cards.

wait...

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (2, Interesting)

cubase_dag (827101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802563)

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 professionals uses it

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (1)

gtada (191158) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802622)

How is this insightful? The OP states, "It looks like one video card is not going to cut it any more, at least for the hardcore gamers out there".

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (3, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#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....

Re:Single video card not going to cut it? (2, Interesting)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802675)

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 have no problem throwing money at hardware/computers.

"for the hardcore gamers out there" (1)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802804)

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.

AFR / SFR error (3, Informative)

dbretton (242493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802446)

Doom 3 runs in SFR, not AFR as the article states.

Re:AFR / SFR error (2, Interesting)

Kaihaku (663794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802551)

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 next decade. Eventually, we'll reach a point where graphics are as good as they're going to get on a monitor. VR, here we come, right? Well...in any case, for now I'm going to have to suffer through this focus on graphics and wonder when gamers are going to start focusing more on the plot and gameplay as opposed to pretty new shiny things on screen and the impressive rendering of blood effects.

Re:AFR / SFR error (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802714)

waaaahh!!!... wwaaaaahhh!!!

you are just like all gammers and game reviewers.. all i hear is bitch, bitch, bitch.

if you do not like the world as you see it then change it.....

But, i guess if the gamming community did not have customers like you EA would not have to work its developers to death...

there needs to be a culture revolution in the gamming community.

you are not very smart.. research the game engines and you will find that doom3's physics are not built into the game engine itself... this means they can be improved and changed with new game development. Half-life 2 has a very complex physics engine in it that does provide a very interactive system but it does not have the dynamic lighting that doom3 can offer.

you know. it was awesome to play doom with a story.. the original games had a story... but the game itself did not really have a story or act it out. Doom3 is the same but the whole game is built from the ground up with the story... i think it is really cool to take an idea of the past and make it what you really wanted it to be and were not able todo in the past due to system limitations.

if you want to bitch about games.. i loved the shit out of both hl2 and doom3.. but hl2 was just a game where you were trying to get to the next way point... WTF... everyone was hurding you to your death basically.. you were a cow in that game being sent along to the next outpost.. yep.. that is all that game was..sorry homie..

In the near future... (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:In the near future... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802620)

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.
They already do - the video card is one computer, and the rest of the system is another.

Parallel graphics processing (3, Funny)

FirienFirien (857374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802449)

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...

Re:Parallel graphics processing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802724)

Dual-Channel RAM (on just about any modern mainboard) is, precisely, parrallel memory architecture.

Top-end boards now have dual (parrallel) GBit ethernet...

Of course, USB and SATA buck this trend of parrallelising

Re:Parallel graphics processing (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802828)

  • 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...

Maybe something I'll look into (1)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802454)

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 the idea of being able to wait to buy a second graphics card in a year or 18 months when the price comes down.

Re:Maybe something I'll look into (4, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802693)

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?

Re:Maybe something I'll look into (2, Interesting)

chris09876 (643289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802739)

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.

third post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802460)

(I win.)

Just get a dual gpu card (0)

Megor1 (621918) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802461)

Just get a dual gpu card, or maybe you can have two of those! Lets see who can make the computer that will lose the most value the quickest!

My Voodoo2's are SLIed up. Fear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802475)

What do you mean I need new graphics cards?!

Other upgrades (3, Informative)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Other upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802641)

Read/write speed isn't a very important issue for most gamers since after you load the game/level there is very little reading or writing of the hard disk. Keep in mind that a gaming system these days starts at 1 Gig of RAM and 2 Gig is becoming standard for highend gaming systems. These systems do not have any use for a paging file. Also many hardcore gamers already have RAID 0 implemented on their boxes which outperforms RAID 5 at speed.

Re:Other upgrades (3, Informative)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802726)

I disagree with what you said "These systems do not have any use for a paging file." If you have more than 1 gigabyte of memory in your workstation and you run some variant of Windows, I invite you to test this for yourself.

Just run Performance Monitor (or Performance or whatever your version of Windows calls it) and add the following metrics:

Pages/Sec from the Memory Object
Average Disk Queue Length (total) from the physical disk object

Even if your memory used is nowhere near what your physical memory is, you will notice two things:

1. Your system still consistently uses the paging file
2. Every time your system uses the paging file, your disk queue length spikes

The moral of the story is, you need a fast disk subsystem for your paging file because Windows will use it even if you have 4 gigabytes of physical ram and are only using 256 megs.

As for RAID 0 vs RAID 5 in speed, what you say is true for writes, but not reads.

Re:Other upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802768)

You can, of course, fix that anomaly;

1 - make RAM disk
2 - page file -> RAM disk ... run your test again
3 - quoth: "fuxxor! I was full of teh nonsense!!1!!"

peace :)

Re:Other upgrades (1)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802769)

Do you understand that this entire article is about gaming performance? That's the whole reason SLI exists, not for your typical office workstation. Your suggestions aren't even relevant.

Re:Other upgrades (2, Insightful)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802845)

Actually with a lot of games using seamless worlds these days, there is a lot of read/write activity in game. This creates noticible slowdowns (play World of Warcraft and try running through Ironforge.. lots of HD activity before it loads all the character models/textures/etc.) I actually have a RAID 0 myself, and it does speed things up a bit. Of course, your money is probably better spent on CPU, video and RAM.

Re:Other upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802874)

Of course, if you have 1GB of RAM, you can probably turn off the page file. If you have 2GB, you can definately turn it off.

In fact, on my friend's machine with 768MB, the page file isn't needed for any games he plays (though he hasn't tried HL2, Doom 3, or FarCry yet -- he's mainly an RPG and RTS guy).

Hardcore gamers only (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802895)

Well obviously for overall computer operation SLI'ing is probably the last thing on the list. But, as PC Gamer [pcgamer.com] 's The Vede pointed out in the March 2005 issue you can get top of the line frame rates with an SLI'ed system.

They tested a system with two 6800 Ultras SLI'ed together and raised the specs of Far Cry to full on -- they turned everything to the max. AA, AS etc. Average frame rate? 60 FPS. Compare that to a system with just one 6800 and you only got 21 FPS.

Like the original submission said, SLI'ing cards is only really for the hardcore gamer in all of us. I get by fine on High settings in Far Cry. AA is really overrated to me.

The only computer game i play is NetHack, (0, Flamebait)

phocine (863151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802482)

But my brother always plays these crazy shooting games and he's always talking about his video card. I think it's an ATI 9800 or something. I can't believe how hard he worked to buy that thing and now it's probably obsolete! lol!

He plays "half life" all night. It's crazy. It has really good graphics though and really loud sounds, unlike nethack. And you get more than one life, so that's also good -- I always get killed after five minutes of nethack.

He says he gets like 70 frames per second with the SLI stuff enabled, but only 60 without it. I guess that's pretty good. O well.

Thanks, Ellie...

How can I check it if link doesn't work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802487)

Would someone who read it summarize it for the rest of us.

SLI! Yay! (0)

cubase_dag (827101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802494)

I am Currently running A Dual Geforce 6600 SLI On An MSI Nforce 4 SLI motherboard. I love It! I kinda missed being able to put two video cards in one machine. But its back again- Although it's extremely expensive- TWO video cards, It's worth it- these two midrange cards perform great, Pulling Some Great framerates in HalfLife 2. What I really want to see is ATI's entry into the sli field. It should be interesting to see all the new system configs coming out.

Re:SLI! Yay! (1)

oftheapes (837835) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802680)

i remember when i had a 3dfx and a better than average graphics card installed in an older computer back in '98(which seems so long ago now). In theory it was wonderful as the 3dfx was much more suited to playing quake II than the standard card, but the passthrough capability completely ruined the image quality of anything using the standard card. so i did the only thing you could do back then to get around the problem - buy an iiyama monitor with dual connectors (d-sub and BNC) - much better, but it cost me an arm and a leg. i know that SLI cards use a special connector to bridge the cards instead of resorting to a pass through, and operate differntly, but is there any image degradation that you notice? i would probably run out and buy a new motherboard and dual sli cards if they've fixed the dimming and blurriness from back in the day.

in the end it was the best since i discovered that iiyama makes wonderful monitors - and i still purchase them with dual connectors so i can hook up my powerbook to a larger display without having to unhook all the cabling...but i can afford to do that now. i had to mow a lot of lawns to buy that first one.

Re:SLI! Yay! (0, Offtopic)

oftheapes (837835) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802699)

eh...excuse my typos...it's still early

That's Overkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802755)

You actually don't need even one 6600 to have a fine running HL2. My GeForce4 Ti 4200 performs very well, thank you.

Still not general enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802495)

With the current SLI solution, drivers must be customized for each game. If you throw just any game at the SLI array, you can expect no improvement to a small slowdown. I want a generalized solution that can provide benefit in any situation.

Re:Still not general enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802808)

Be fair; about the only thing that you can rely on from microsoft (only good thing, at least) is that before TOO long, SLI support will be in Direct3d - and will just kind of happen if you have the kit installed.

What about... (2, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802499)

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.

Re:What about... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802527)

No, gamers have always been much worse than audiophiles.

Audiophile insanity vs. gamer insanity (5, Interesting)

raygundan (16760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802791)

"No, gamers have always been much worse than audiophiles. "

You're kidding, right? Audiophiles are off the deep end. I don't think you have ever seen an *actual* audiophile-- you're mixing them up with people who like stereos. Audiophiles do things like buy $3000 cables. Or put all their components on 200lb. granite blocks or $600-per-component magnetic levitation dampers to ease vibration. Power conditioners. Huge stacks of tube amps. Subwoofers that require special basement rooms to be built to act as the box.

In the worst cases, the quest for perfect audio goes so far as to become pointless. There's an article I wish I could find for you about one particularly off-the-deep-end audiophile who paid so much for the system he used to listen to classical recordings that had he kept the money, he would have had enough to bring the *actual orchestra* to his house to play for him regularly, for years. Say what you want about huge stereos, but if it gets to the point where you can afford to bring the source home with you, you don't need reproduction.

The worst gamers can't hope to touch this. The most expensive rig on the market with a massive hang-on-the-wall plasma or whatever as your huge monitor is still just a drop in the bucket compared to people who will spend $3000 on three feet of speaker cable. And unlike some of the audiophile quackery, at least a fast machine has measurable performance gains. Try convincing a real engineer that your $1000 power cable makes a detectable difference in sound quality.

For your reference, as a guide to the levels this insanity can reach:

$23,000 for a pair of 8-foot speaker cables [consumerreview.com]

$75,000 per speaker [wisdomaudio.com]

$40 silver-plated electrical outlet [audiophilia.com] (because... ummm... you can't just use any old outlet with the next item:)

$1000 5-foot AC power cable [audiophilia.com]

There's much worse. Try pricing out monoblock tube amps. Keep in mind they're not just going to buy one per channel (the minimum), but probably one per *driver* (as in, three per speaker if you have a woofer, mid, and tweeter).

Re:What about... (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802582)

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! ;-)

Re:What about... (1)

Moonlapse (802617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802583)

I was able to put together a decent rig for $1000, not including a monitor or speakers since i had those already. I can play HL2, Doom 3, Painkiller etc. quite comfortably. I sold my 3 year old alienware for $500 so that made the deal even sweeter. Point is : The jump from playability to WOW 999 fps!!!! is not worth an extra $1000.

Some strange claims... (4, Interesting)

Thai-Pan (414112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802506)

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.

Re:Some strange claims... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802572)

They are saying (I think) that you can't use your current AGP mobo for proper SLI work, and the hard to find gfx cards being expensive and rare are just because PCIe is still not fully up to speed.

Its will have been the same situation when everyone moved from pci to agp for their graphics.

Re:Some strange claims... (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802573)

$160? For $160 I better get the board with a CPU included. That's way overpriced.

Let's get this out of the way... (-1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802521)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of video cards!

/lame

Re:Let's get this out of the way... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802547)

Humor fails you.

Why not dual core? (2, Interesting)

glitch0 (859137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802528)

Is it just me, or does this seem like a waste of space? CPU technology is heading towards dual core, doesn't this seem like the next step for video cards?

Personally, I wouldn't buy a SLI cardset. Top of the line video cards are already $500. What kind of person really needs that much fps or resolution? It gets beyond a point of recognition, where the difference is so small that it isn't noticed. The only real reason people would spend that much money is for bragging rights, which is an absurd principle to spend money on.

The Price (1, Insightful)

jleq (766550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802530)

It doesn't matter how hardcore a gamer is, if they can't afford 2 uber-graphics cards, they're not going to buy 2. I own one Geforce 6800 GT, and it doesn't seem to have problems in any game I play. As long as frame rate >= refresh rate, it doesn't matter anyway. Instead of buying an elite SLI system now, I saved that money... in a year or so, prices will fall and I'll be able to buy a new motherboard AND top of the line graphics card instead of having an old system with 2 obsolete cards.

Google Cache (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802535)

Google Cache [64.233.161.104]

polygons suck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802538)

Stop trying to make faster and faster polygon 3d and develop something better. Voxels anyone?

Re:polygons suck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802575)

My mother is a polygon you insensitive clod!

Shut it up you.

Before they post I think they need to... (0)

raynet11 (844558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802555)

Check to make sure the poor saps server can handle the swarm of slashdot users before posting.. Having your site / article featured on slashdot is the equivalent of a DOS attack..

Why SLI? (1, Interesting)

caryw (131578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802559)

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 County comes out to play

Scalable Link Interface? (1)

delmoi (26744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802587)

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?

Re:Scalable Link Interface? (5, Informative)

ZagNuts (789429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802673)

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.

I prefer the one card, multiple GE method ... (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802599)

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.

Re:I prefer the one card, multiple GE method ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802631)

I love how you totally just missed that terminating italic tag. Good work!

Asinine (3, Interesting)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Asinine (1)

redcircle (796312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802745)

SLI may become worthwhile in the future, but for now, it's the exclusive domain of chumps and the e-penis crowd.

Seriously, you'd get a lot more chicks if you got the dual 6800's

Superior... (1, Interesting)

dbretton (242493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802843)


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... (2, Interesting)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802891)

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 (3, Insightful)

friedmud (512466) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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)

PC vs Console - TCO (2, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802636)

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 game and playing. New hardware (consoles) appear periodically (like XBox2, PS/3) but upgrade cycle is a lot less frequent than that required for PC games, and hassle factor is much lower. Add to that the fact that most game makers now develop for consoles first, and it's hard to justify the continual upgrade cycle to support PC gaming.

Re:PC vs Console - TCO (3, Insightful)

raynet11 (844558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802703)

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.

Re:PC vs Console - TCO (4, Interesting)

dbretton (242493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802778)


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.

Re:PC vs Console - TCO (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802841)

Sure, there's a better interface and higher resolution.

Well there's 2 major reasons right there

But, game installation is generally a true pain - install the game, update the drivers, download the patches, fiddle with the game options, rinse, repeat

You have the benefit of downloading community mods and greater flexibilty in optimizing the game. Besides, I'd rather take an hour installing a game than suffer through the load time of a PS2 DVD.

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.


For most gamers upgrading is an enjoyable hobby (despite the occasional frustration). AFA consoles are concerned you can't get a good RTS, can't get a good FPS, can't get a good Flight Sim and can't use the console for anything else ... it's basically a toy

Re:PC vs Console - TCO (1)

crashmstr (753615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802894)

You have very good points. The justification for PC gaming: Games you can't get on a console. And I am talking about games you spend a lot of time playing. Just having one game you spend 4 hours a week with is not going to repay your investment, but if you spend 20 hours as week, doesn't that make your upgrades pay off quicker?

FUD Biased Article with Inaccuracies (4, Insightful)

dbretton (242493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802659)

#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.

Re:FUD Biased Article with Inaccuracies (3, Informative)

Dragoon412 (648209) | more than 9 years ago | (#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] .

I remember the days (1)

KingBahamut (615285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802671)

Of 3dfx's SLI rigs. The cards ran fast, and you got better FPS than anyone on just one card, But the Graphics were washed out pretty fiercely. So it was a push. Do you sacrifice bad colors for better FPS, or otherwise? I would imagine that the same SLI rigs done with Nvidia cards may produce the same result. Probably not near as bas as the Voodoo Cards did , but still a bit. That coupled with the alarmingly large amounts of money needed to run them, makes them undesireable for me.

SLI ?? (0, Redundant)

packman (156280) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802718)

"SLI, or Scalable Link Interface..."

And I always thought this was "Scan Line Interleave"... ??? At least with the Voodoo 2 cards, it was like that...

SLI-who needs it? (4, Informative)

Watersharer (209011) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Its very simple... (1)

rulethirty (673757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802759)

If you like to be on the bleeding edge of technology and you have the money to blow then you will want an SLI board and two GPUs. This article could have been greatly shortened by simply stating a couple of facts: SLI is new, few games support it, other technologies exist that may extinguish SLI, and SLI will likely fade with the times.

Anyone interested in the new nForce 4 and a dual processor (mainly Opteron) setup should check out this article:

http://www.linuxhardware.org/article.pl?sid=05/0 1/ 26/2240240&mode=thread

I am on pre-order for a Tyan K8WE which is the only board (to my knowledge) that supports two 16x lanes that is fully compatiable with SLI and carries the nForce 4 on board. Myself, I will not be slapping in anything but a 32bit Matrox video card but all the potential is there. This is probably THE board to get if you want Dual Opteron's and want to pickup the nForce 4 chip with SLI.

coDck (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11802777)

Are inhe=rEntly

Threw in the towel (1, Offtopic)

rkischuk (463111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802837)

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 best bet, but with broader tastes, it seems to me that consoles rule the roost these days, and talk like this of needing dual video cards is part of the reason.

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