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Nvidia bridgeless SLI and SLI AA appear

Discussion in 'News' started by Dark Ride, Jul 20, 2005.

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    NV 77.76 brings some goodies

    Nvidia is releasing new drivers today [20. July 2005]. You can expect a bunch of tricks and goodies, but nothing astounding in the performance arena. The main things the update brings is a fresh SLI mode, along with support for the 6600LE and its bridgeless SLi.

    There are the usual bug fixes, the 'VR-Zone Overcooling' one is a biggie for the lunatic fringe overclocker set, the overbright video bug is a good one for everyone, and widescreen under SLi is fixed, or fixed in all but a few cases. Not a bad haul for the bug hunters this time.

    The 6600LE, the upcoming budget card from NV, is aimed straight at the 9550 from ATI, and it looks to be a solid hit. This card should be in the $70 to $100 range, but we are told it will be much closer to $70 than $100, think $75ish. The really nice thing this brings to the table is bridgeless SLI over the PCIe bus.

    We criticised this method earlier, but the 6600LE removes a major objection, it is low end and will never saturate the PCIe bus. It won't even come close. This extra bandwidth means that you can pass SLI data across the PCIe bus with little or no performance degradation. That may not be the ideal situation for those looking for the ultimate frame rate in CS:Source, but the 6600LE is not its card of choice either. Overall, it brings SLI to the masses at an affordable price.

    This is good for those looking at buying a cheap system especially those that don't want to get stuck without an upgrade path, this will get you in the door, and allow you to buy another 6600LE for cheap SLi. Alternatively, you can throw the first one out and get a couple of 6600GTs. Either way, you won't have your wallet broken from the start.

    The other path is for system vendors to offer cheap machines with SLi. If you want to buy a system on a budget, the wow factor of SLI is fairly alluring. Four monitor capability is not a bad bullet point offering either, and this will be the cheapest way to do it. If your mother buys you a budget SLi box, you can always upgrade, which beats the heck out of an embedded graphics machine without an AGP or PCIe 16x slot.

    Saving the best for last is a new mode, 16X antialiasing, or as it is officially called SLi AA mode. SLi AA comes in two flavors, 8x and 16x, both of which offer a potentially huge benefit for quality on CPU bound games. I noticed that the 7800GTX is pretty much better than any CPU out there, it is nearly impossible to push this card to the limit on many games, including some of the most modern ones. Until the FX-59 comes out, the video card will be spending more time waiting for the CPU than the other way around.

    What do you do if you are a lonely California GPU maker and you feel for these cards? You make work for them, and do it in a way that is pleasing to the eye, hence the SLi part of SLi AA. What it does is have one card do either 4x or 8x antialiasing, for 8x and 16x modes respectively, and combines them before output. This is a completely new form of SLi, and does not work in AFR or Split Screen modes.

    Before you scratch your head and wonder about this, for games that do not get any more speed in SLi mode, this can be a major benefit, you can double the AA mode and not take a speed hit. The visual quality there should be pretty noticeable, but how it accomplishes that is just as big a win. The trick here is that one card picks one AA pattern, and the other one takes a different pattern. When combined, you end up with a more sophisticated and higher quality image.

    So, in the end, the new drivers, most likely 77.76, the last digit may change, will be out tomorrow, barring any last minute bugs. They won't bring massive frame rate improvements, but they do bring a new SLi mode and bridgeless SLi to the table. They should at the very least be very interesting for geeks to fiddle with, and with the upcoming 80.xx drivers should pick up the performance race again. Looks like these will be a lot of fun.

    Source: The Inquirer
    10 Year Member at TPU

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