The GA-8I915P-SLI is based on Intel's Grantsdale chipset (915P).
The Gigabyte 8I915P-SLI board we received carried the revision number 0.4 which makes it clear that we are talking about a very early sample. According to Gigabyte, final versions of this board are supposed to hit the shelves no later than February 2005. This is a clever move, knowing that Intel and NVIDIA signed cross-license agreements in order to enable NVIDIA to provide chipsets for the Intel architecture. As far as we can tell, it will take at least until CeBIT 2005 before NVIDIA will be able to present final products, giving Gigabyte a nice head start.
As we already said, Gigabyte managed to merge all the PCIe lanes located in Intel's ICH6 chip into one x4 port, operating the secondary graphics card over the Southbridge. There is a patent pending to protect Gigabyte's technique.
This raises an interesting bandwidth question, as the chipset components are linked via x4 PCI Express, too. Is this approach viable or could some Southbridge components - such as PCI devices or storage interfaces - be slowed down as soon as the SLI graphics contend for PCIe bandwidth?
Since even x2 PCI Express can be sufficient for most applications, we don't expect the chipset interconnect to be a serious bottleneck for today's games, though this could change with games of upcoming generations.