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NVIDIA Do-It-Yourself Quad SLI Launched 169

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the what-to-do-with-a-second-mortgage dept.
Spinnerbait writes "Today, NVIDIA will be releasing their Forceware v91.37 drivers and with them will be officially endorsing Do-It-Yourself Quad-SLI. HotHardware has put together an article detailing the steps necessary to assemble and configure a high-end Quad-SLI rig, and they give some thoughts regarding XHD Gaming and its associated costs. Those of you that are hell-bent on gaming ultra-high resolutions (1920X1200 or 2560X1600 for example), along with the highest available image quality, might want to give one of these setups a look." Before making a purchase I would recommend building that water-cooled credit card first.
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NVIDIA Do-It-Yourself Quad SLI Launched

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  • Rediculous (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The_Pariah (991496)
    And this caters to less than 1% of the PC gamer market?
    • Re:Rediculous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oskard (715652) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:54PM (#15875304)
      Doesn't matter, nVidia needs to showcase that they're at the forefront of GPU technology. Its a type of advertisement, word of mouth stuff. Consumers that hear about this will automatically link the best video cards to nVidia's product line.
    • More like less than 0.01% of the PC gamer market.
      • It may be .01% of the PC gamer market but with this kind of offering they stand a good chance of capturing 100% of a niche market: visualization workstations, where they are willing to pay a premium to buy top of the line $500, $1,000, or even more expensive cards where the profit margin may be 500% rather than 5% to 10% on a $50 card.

        Why blow money on an outdated (and yet current offering?) SGI workstation when you can get better performance out of a quad-(dual core) (8-way processing) PC? The question is
        • Board with 4 PCI-E [slashdot.org]

          I'm sure more boards will be out with it now that the driver support is there. I wouldn't throw a rig like that out of my room although I might need to upgrade my air conditioner. Coindentally I already need to upgrade the AC in my office. Amazing what passes for a datacenter these days.

        • Re:Rediculous (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:52PM (#15875780)
          The question is though (having not RTFA yet): will this work on Linux, and what boards offer four PCI-E x16 slots?

          I can't say one way or the other about Linux (yet). You don't need four PCI-E x16 slots though. This is based around the nVidia 7950 GX2 [slizone.com], which connects two graphics processors to the motherboard via a single PCI-E slot. Each of those takes up two slots worth of space (in fact,it's two boards connected together) but the high-end single-GPU boards (e.g. 7900GTX, ATI X1900) do so as well. Most SLI motherboards leave quite a bit of room between their x16 slots, so the physical installation should rarely (if ever) cause a problem.

          In case anybody cares: apparently during development, they did build a few dual-GPU boards that required two slots -- but they were never put into real production.

        • what boards offer four PCI-E x16 slots?

          The new Mac Pro has four PCIe x16 slots, and some built-to-order options have 4 nVidia GPUs. As far as I know, however, you will need to run something other than OS X to use SLI; Apple just advertise it as supporting 8 displays.

          • Re:Rediculous (Score:2, Informative)

            by Ramjet350 (582868)
            If you read the specs of the Mac Pro - it has 4 x16 physical slots but it only supports 1 x16, 1 x8, 2 x4's lanewise. It is not 4 full x16 lanes of bandwidth according to the specs.
        • Why blow money on an outdated (and yet current offering?) SGI workstation when you can get better performance out of a quad-(dual core) (8-way processing) PC?

          The question is though: will this work on Linux, and what boards offer four PCI-E x16 slots?

          It's tremendously important to both note and keep in mind that the reason why any individual would purchase an SGI system is two-fold.

          One, your department already runs SGI? Or the application that you want to run runs on IRIX (ya, so they support a linux kernel

        • Re:Rediculous (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @03:05PM (#15875873) Journal
          You left out the cost of air conditioning your room after you put 4 of these space heaters in it.
    • Other markets (Score:5, Interesting)

      by everphilski (877346) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:58PM (#15875349) Journal
      ... like people doing scene generation [openscenegraph.org], rendering, etc. Small biz and hobbyist type work.
    • Re:Rediculous (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KingMotley (944240)
      Oh well. I'm in that 1%, so it's useful to me. Dell alone is selling some 4000 240xFPW monitors a week, that alone comes pretty close to 1% of the total PCs sold. That doesn't include the 30" that dell and apple sell, nor any other 1920x1200 resolution monitors from other manufacturers.

      But ok, let's just assume it's 1% of the market. I don't know of any major company that wouldn't be willing to dedicate a couple programmers (if that) for a few weeks to possibly increase their sales by 1% (probably MUCH
    • Re:Rediculous (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rtaylor (70602)
      And this caters to less than 1% of the PC gamer market?
      Exactly. The triple cheeseburger at your local burger joint is the same way and exists for the exact same reason.

      If a $1200 product is available, people can feel good about the money they saved by purchasing the $600 product and laugh at the people wasting their money on the bigger item.

      If the $600 product is the top of the line then less people will buy it, they'll get the $300 item instead.
    • It would be alot ore than 2% or 3% if Nvidia released quadro versions of their consumer cards. Artists and engineers really could use this more than gamers. Aren't quadro's just consumer cards with different drivers? THis is why Nvidia's drivers are closed source.

      But still cool for gamers but even greater for more productive uses for this when money is involved. I think archcad and proengineer would scream on such a system.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:55PM (#15875321)
    Tetris at decent FPS?
  • by konigstein (966024) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:57PM (#15875336) Homepage
    Died about 2 pages into the article, 1 minute after its /. debute... oh well. A new record perhaps?

    From what I've read so far however, unless you have a big screen HDTV that you game with that supports high resolutions with a fast response time and refresh rate(1% of the gaming market), you WILL NOT need the ultra expensive quad SLI.

    I sold my wife and car, and I get my quad sli setup when it arrives in the mail tomorrow.
  • by NiZm0 (108526) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @01:58PM (#15875354)
    Quad NVIDIA SLI Technology
    Windows XP/2000

    ForceWare Release 90
    Version: 91.45
    Release Date: August 9, 2006
    Please make sure to read the Driver Installation Hints Document before you install this driver.

    U.S. English
    File Size: 32.8 MB
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_91.45.html [nvidia.com]
    • 33MB? Ouch, are all the Windows drivers that bloated?
      • "33MB? Ouch, are all the Windows drivers that bloated?"

        No, they're that "Feature Packed"!
      • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @03:29PM (#15876023) Homepage
        33MB? Ouch, are all the Windows drivers that bloated?

        Remember, this is a "Unified Driver." That means it has drivers for a huge variety of video cards in one big, tidy package. I also most likely includes stuff for multiple languages, only one of which you'll actually use. Also, with the 9x.xx release of nVidia drivers you get both the "new" display driver interface (based on a web browser motif) and the "classic" interface (what we all know and have loved for the last five years or more).

        Add all that up and you get a 33MB installer. The actual driver code, however, is far smaller. Not all of that 33MB ends up on your hard drive after the install is done. It's not bloated, it's just aimed at a very wide array of possible applications, and nVidia wants to put all that in one installer to simplify things for the end user. Bloat implies there's a lot of cruft in there, and that's not the case.
  • Only on /. (Score:2, Funny)

    by HexaDex (687539)
    will you find an article on Quad SLI gaming rigs, following close on the heels of an article on gaming addiction in World of Warcraft. Kinda like advertising bigger hypodermics at a methadone clinic...
    • Sort of like how every Woman's magazine in supermarket checkout aisles (Redbook, etc) has an article titled "Make this delicious chocolate cake for your family!" followed by and article titled "Lose 10 lbs in two weeks!".
  • by markild (862998) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:05PM (#15875405)
    When will they learn..

    http://www.hothardware.com.nyud.net:8080/printarti cle.aspx?articleid=856 [nyud.net]

    I'm still giggling about the fact that they called their site "hothardware".. It doesn't get any hotter than this! :P
  • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:07PM (#15875417)
    Most of the comments thus far are replies to some jealous asshole, so I'll try to steer this back on topic.

    It's been possible to do for a while now, although it required some effort. From the benchmarks I've seen, QuadSLI is almost counterproductive for resolutions at or below 1600x1200. It does have a reasonable advantage in FEAR, but most other games showed very little improvement. That review didn't cover the 1920 and 2560 resolutions, but that's where the advantage should be quite significant. Of course, whether it's worth it or not depends on how many more hours you'll have to spend flipping burgers to pay it off.
    • That review didn't cover the 1920 and 2560 resolutions, but that's where the advantage should be quite significant. Of course, whether it's worth it or not depends on how many more hours you'll have to spend flipping burgers to pay it off.

          The computer manager keeps telling me to stay at home. I can't flip the burgers!
  • ...this might work a bit better:

    http://www.hothardware.com/printarticle.aspx?artic leid=856 [hothardware.com]

  • New hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:15PM (#15875485)
    It seems crazy to be investing more than $1k in new videocards at this point in time, as nothing out currently is DirectX 10 (full windows vista) compatable. The new nVidia cards that are will be out in less than a month or so (if you believe the press).
  • that's dope (Score:4, Funny)

    by fearanddread (836731) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:18PM (#15875510)
    Who cares if it's complete overkill. Overkill is good kill.
  • Sure sounds like the right name for a site reviewing this beast. What would the heat output of that rig be?
  • Pointless (Score:5, Funny)

    by AC-x (735297) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:22PM (#15875545)
    Everyone knows the main bottleneck in a modern gaming PC is the network card [killernic.com], not the graphics card!
    • by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @02:40PM (#15875700)
      To totally alleviate CPU usage and ethernet bottlenecks I advise using RS-232 instead. The other benefits are that you can connect to that new-fangled Compuserve BBS service if you also have an acoustic coupler. You can also save on cabling costs by using damp string.

      Niz 123342,9987
    • > Everyone knows the main bottleneck in a modern gaming PC is the network card, not the graphics card!

      Strange, I thought it was the speed of light [slashdot.org].
  • ...then people might actually have a use [google.com] for the 4 PCIe slots in MacMac Pro.

    Of course, having driver support for COTS video cards would be at least 60% better than that. Charging $150 for a card that's $90 retail, sheesh!
  • Is that like regular HD gaming but more X-Treme [thebestpag...iverse.net]?
  • The box is on fire! And this might not be just a printing of a fire on a box, but a box that's really burning!
  • by adisakp (705706) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @03:23PM (#15875983) Journal
    They were able to get 78.9 FPS with Prey but only with 4-way full AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering). There is a big issue with serious gamers and this configuration.

    On 4-way AFR the driver builds a display list and sends it to a GPU that isn't busy. It is possible to have all four GPUs busy (rendering frames) while the current frame is being displayed and a new display list is being generated by the CPU. This means what you see with 4-way full AFR can be up to 5 frames later than what is going on in the game engine. At 78.9 FPS, this can translate into nearly 64 ms of latency which is enough to get you killed if you're a serious gamer.

    Serious gamers with Quad-SLI are going to want to use SFR (Split Frame Rendering) which cuts latency quite a bit but takes a performance hit to the FPS. There are definite inefficiencies to 4-way SFR with having all four cards render portions of the same scene vs 4-way AFR. You generate 4 times as much display list info (GPU fifo data) and you have to replicate more data and uploads (if textures don't fit into the 512MB memory) across the GPUs.

    I'm not sure if the Quad-SLI supports an AFR/SFR hybrid where you can have 2X2 (2 GPUs working on SFR each in AFR queue) - this might balance the performance vs latency issue better.
  • Here is a review of the eVGA "Black Pearl" watercooled setup. http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=6412&pa ge=1 [hexus.net]
  • Where are the dual core graphics cards? I would the better innovation would be to have four cores on 2 cards than four core on 4 cards. maybe something will come out of AMD/ATI.
    • They were using dual core cards. RTFA again, and look at the pics.
      • Well, shit. 4 core on one card then. I don't need to RTFA again. Personally, I just need one card with a lot of power that can stay cool without a refigerator. Put it in the iMac and I am a happy boy.
    • The term "dual core" is completely meaningless with respect to graphics cards- due to the parallelized nature of the core, it's the exact same thing as doubling the number of pipelines/shaders. In other words, if you want a dual core GPU, just wait and buy the next generation card.

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