Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

ASRock Crams CrossFire and SLI in One Board

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 19 comments

As if giving Nvidia the middle finger or slapping the graphics company in the face, ASRock managed to make ATI CrossFire cards run on Nvidia SLI motherboards.

A flyer straight out of CeBIT 2009 shows what must be a sign of the apocalypse, or as Bill Murray described in Ghostbusters, "dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!" And honestly, by the looks of ASRock's freshly distributed flyer, Nvidia employees may actually be seen running for cover on the convention floor, breaking out holy talismans. Why? ASRock hasn't created a monster or resurrected demons, it did the unthinkable.

It managed to run ATI CrossfireX graphics cards on an Nvidia SLI motherboard.

It's no monstrosity, an at this moment, ASRock is sporting the incredible configuration in Booth Hall 21, Stand C40. The company is using the N7AD-SLI, based on Nvidia's nforce 740i SLI chipset flashed with an altered BIOS update. To show the motherboard's versatility, the company kicks off the demonstration with two EEN9600GT cards running in the SLI configuration. Then, as if by magic, ASRock representatives removed the cards and replace them with two ATI 4850 graphics cards running in ATI CrossFireX mode.

So what does this mean for the average Joe? Not a whole lot, but gamers and power-hungry consumers not wanting to be locked into one technology may very well be liberated by ASRock's "secret weapon." Stay tuned as more info regarding this revelation seep out of CeBIT!

Display 19 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 6 Hide
    jerreece , March 3, 2009 10:08 PM
    I like this idea frankly. It means a person can get a motherboard that supports their CPU, and then buy any video card they wish. Much better flexibility to the end user in my opinion.
  • 5 Hide
    IronRyan21 , March 3, 2009 10:26 PM
    Its definitley a plus!
  • 2 Hide
    kyeana , March 3, 2009 10:47 PM
    Very good!


    Still it would have been much nicer if it came before the x58 which runs both already
  • 2 Hide
    B-Unit , March 3, 2009 11:42 PM
    Its been available for a while. Either the HP Blackbird or one of the Dell XPS(I cant remember which) had this BIOS hack.

    Well, available is perhaps the wrong term. More like 'in existance' Ive searched high and low and this doesnt seem to have proliferated beyond that specific model until now.
  • 2 Hide
    B-Unit , March 3, 2009 11:45 PM
  • 0 Hide
    1raflo , March 4, 2009 1:27 AM
    B-UnitIts been available for a while. Either the HP Blackbird or one of the Dell XPS(I cant remember which) had this BIOS hack.Well, available is perhaps the wrong term. More like 'in existance' Ive searched high and low and this doesnt seem to have proliferated beyond that specific model until now.


    Yeah i remember that too, so theres no actually nothing new here. The innovating thing here is that a mobo maker is starting to make this working defacto and available to anyone, a trick that once was reserved to geeks with the vast pc/programming knowledge to hack a bios config.

    Something i would really impressed to see is a nvida carded slied/xfired with an ati one. (of course that might be impossible since ati and nvidia have huge difference in the architecture of their cards... but who knows!)
  • 0 Hide
    adamk890 , March 4, 2009 3:29 AM
    Nicely done ASRock! a really good idea. i find this a little to late however considering that the X58 platform is already out. Had they released this at this time a year earlier i think there would have been a huge market for this but now that X58 boards are able to offer the same things I wonder how well this board will sell
  • 0 Hide
    NuclearShadow , March 4, 2009 5:24 AM
    This is certainly good news and hopefully others will jump aboard and do the same. However I have to ask can Nvidia do anything to prevent this? Whether through a protection to stop it in the future or even through court?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 4, 2009 10:44 AM
    Dell has been offering this for quite a few months via their XPS 630i system. That system has been wrought with problems (check out www.my630i.com for some intersting reads), not the least of which being that the cards don't actually run in crossfire mode sometimes, even though the ATI interface indicates that they are, framerate and performance indicates that they clearly are not.
  • 0 Hide
    gwolfman , March 4, 2009 1:30 PM
    kyeanaVery good! Still it would have been much nicer if it came before the x58 which runs both already

    I agree
  • -1 Hide
    bustapr , March 4, 2009 1:43 PM
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/search.asp?keywords=crossfire+sli+motherboard
    SLI CF mother bards have been around for quite a long time. asua rampage 2 for example can support both.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 4, 2009 2:47 PM
    I don't think Nvidia has to do anything, how are they going to stop people from running CrossFire on an Nvidia chipset?

    I'm more surprised that ATI allows cross-fire to be run on an Nvidia chipset, I would think the display drivers would prevent this.

    Remember, the only reason SLI didn't work on old Intel chipsets was because Nvidia locked everything but Nvidia chipsets out of their drivers. Once they worked out a licensing deal for the x58, it only required a driver update (and possibly some tweaks to Intel's BIOS).
  • 2 Hide
    hellwig , March 4, 2009 2:54 PM
    bustaprhttp://www.tigerdirect.com/applica [...] otherboardSLI CF mother bards have been around for quite a long time. asua rampage 2 for example can support both.


    bustapr, I believe the ASRock motherboard is a Core2 motherboard. Intel licensed SLI tech for their x58 Core i7 boards (that asus rampage 2 you linked).

    This new board is really only applicable to old Core2 duo/quad users who apparently need a new motherboard and want to keep their GPU upgrade options open in the future. But really, how far are you going to stretch that Core2 before upgrading your GPU isn't the problem anymore? I mean, with single-card solutions like the GTX295, 9800X2, 4870x2, 4850x2, etc..., is your single-PCIe motherboard really whats holding you back?
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 4, 2009 3:38 PM
    Cool. It seems like nVidia always had a stick up their butt about users running crossfire on their SLi boards or SLi on non certified SLi boards. I think this will be the board of choice for a few power users since it will be nice to know that whenever nVidia and AMD one up each other you don't have to ditch your main board to take advantage of the latest and greatest dual card configuration. Of course i7/X58 users enjoy this but that privileged currently comes at a high price.
  • 3 Hide
    A Stoner , March 4, 2009 5:28 PM
    As ASROCK loses it's access to any nVidia products. It is nVidia's right to not allow Crossfire to run on it's boards. It is one thing for a consumer to breach this wall of seperation, but altogether another thing for a company to do so. I am certain there are liability issues at stake here. Just like the reason Intel motherboards could not just add Crossfire or SLI onto it's motherboards because of licensing of the technology, there is no way that ASRock can get around the Licensing of nVidia chipsets. A consumer could, but ASRock cannot. If nVidia wants to change it's licensing to allow this, all the better, but it is not in their interest to do so, so not likely to happen.
  • 1 Hide
    grieve , March 4, 2009 7:58 PM
    While I do not see any downside to this arrangement I think most people are aware if they are buying ATI or Nvidia at the time they purchase a Motherboard. I think this is a good idea but I don’t see this board gaining any kind of popularity.

    I could not see myself buying this board for that feature.
  • -1 Hide
    old_newbie , March 4, 2009 9:01 PM
    I think Nvidia has had enough law suits recently (and market share loss) that they will give a pass on this one; even though it would be a slam dunk case against Asrock because of the precedent already set....*thinking about the old emulator Bleemcast which could play playstation games better on dreamcast that got shut down in court*

    Anyway, guess this means no more flaming on the newbs in the forums that ask if they can crossfire on an Nvidia board :( 
  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , March 5, 2009 3:48 PM
    Market Share Loss? Um, they gained market share recently.
  • 0 Hide
    68vistacruiser , March 9, 2009 4:31 PM
    Running crossfire on a SLI board is kind of like putting a 4 cylinder into a vette. Nvidia's got nothing to worry about.