NVIDIA nForce 200 SLI Processor
NVIDIA CEO Huang Jen-Hsun must have felt quite sick when Intel announced that they chose to go with ATI's CrossFire X technology in the recently-launched Intel 4 Series Express chipsets and the upcoming Intel X58 Express chipset, instead of NVIDIA's competing SLI technology. Since Intel earlier chose SLI for their X48 Skulltrail motherboard, the abrupt reversal was not only a slap in the face for NVIDIA, it was also a much needed boost to ATI's faltering fortunes.
Before this, NVIDIA's SLI technology was certainly the market leader but that changed with the direct support of CrossFire X in the new Intel chipsets. In one fell swoop, ATI's CrossFire X technology becomes the market leader. That must have rattled more than a few NVIDIA employees (and shareholders!).
Of course, no one expects NVIDIA to take it lying down. As big as Intel is, NVIDIA thinks they can outsmart their erstwhile partners and they may have just done that with their newly-announced nForce 200 SLI processor. What is it? Let's take a look at the official press release :
PC enthusiasts, manufacturers, and developers around the world have a lot to be excited about today with NVIDIA Corporation’s announcement that it will be bringing the power and performance of its SLI® multi-GPU technology to Intel’s upcoming line of Bloomfield CPUs. With this winning combination, consumers will have an SLI platform designed for current and future graphics-intensive games and applications; these platforms can be powered by one, two, or even three NVIDIA GeForce® GPUs, including the new, award-winning GeForce GTX 280 and GTX 260 GPUs.
New SLI motherboards will feature the NVIDIA nForce® 200 SLI processor, Intel Bloomfield CPUs, and Tylersburg (X58) chipsets. The nForce 200 SLI processor features patented SLI technology for graphics bandwidth management and multi-GPU peer-to-peer communications, both required to optimise graphics performance.
“With GeForce-based visual computing application, our customers are experiencing exciting new ways to interact with their photos and videos while also experiencing the bone-chilling realism from our latest graphics processors,” said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president of GPU business at NVIDIA. “Our SLI technology allows us to combine the power of hundreds of GeForce processing cores in multi-GPU configurations with Intel’s latest CPUs for platforms that are sure to excite our customers.”
What Does It Mean?
Ignoring all the marketing fluff, what it boils down to is this. The NVIDIA nForce 200 SLI processor is NVIDIA's way of circumventing Intel's support of CrossFire X in their chipsets. It is really nothing more than an SLI controller chip that allows manufacturers to add SLI capability to their motherboards.
However, a careful reading of the press release would suggest that NVIDIA only intends the nForce 200 for use with the upcoming Intel X58 Express chipset and not the current Intel 4 Series Express chipsets which already compete directly with NVIDIA's own motherboard chipsets.
The pricing of the NVIDIA nForce 200 SLI processor is unknown at this point but unless NVIDIA keeps it really low, manufacturers will likely offer motherboards without this SLI chip. Ultimately, this is a stop-gap solution and the only one available to NVIDIA until they can come up with their own chipset for the Intel Bloomfield processor.
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