Chicago (IL) - Taiwan-based manufacturer Gigabyte expects that PCI Express not to conquer the graphics market in 2004. Instead, AGP is likely to stick around for a while. PCI Express products however will be widely available, including a Gigabyte board with support for Nvidia's SLI for dual graphic cards in Q4 of this year.
In a phone interview with Tom's Hardware Guide, David Chiang, Gigabyte's General Manager of Channel Business, said that AGP still is taking the lion's share of the graphics market, mainly because it is priced significantly lower than PCI Express. "We expect that AGP cards capture about 70 percent market share in 2004, leaving about 30 percent to PCI Express," he said.
AGP also was far from disapperaing from the graphics scene. "We see a strong demand for these products and believe they will continue to do so so through 2005. For 2006, AGP will remain an option for the low-end market," Chiang said. He was not sure when PCI Express card shipments in fact will exceed AGP products and explained that this would "depend on Intel's strategy" but was likely to happen by mid-2005.
For the fourth quarter of this year, Gigabyte plans to offer mainboards supporting Nvidia's SLI technology supporting two PCI Express graphic cards. According to Chiang, the company will roll out boards with two x16 slots as well as version with one x16 slot which is split in two x16's running at x8 speed. There was no word on the cost of such a board, since Nvidia has not announced SLI pricing. Chiang however thinks that "won't be twice a single x16" version.
Nvidia so far only announced that it will reveal its SLI retail strategy in August and start shipping SLI-chips to system builders in "Fall".
Using two PCI Express GeForce 6800 graphic cards requires a dual x16 PCIe capable mainstream motherboard, supporting chipsets as well as a brigde connector to couple the cards. The gain in processing speed results from a concept that both cards render different sections of the screen. By using dynamic load-balancing, each card can be assigned a flexible section of the screen to be able to work at full capacity.
The SLI market likely will be limited to the "very" high-end and workstation market. "It will reach about three percent of the total market," Chiang said.