Gigabyte to support four SLI graphics cards on one motherboard

Chicago (IL) - If even two graphics cards in your PC are not enough, what about four? SLI typically is limited to two cards within one system, but sources told Tom's Hardware Guide that Gigabyte will soon offer a "Quad" motherboard with slots for up to four Nvidia-based SLI cards.

About half a year ago, we learned that Gigabyte was working on a graphics card that integrates two GeForce 6600GT graphics chips. While we were impressed with the out-of-the-box approach from Gigabyte, there was of course the question, whether two of those cards could be combined for a total of four graphics chips.

At the time, we were told that the firm was working on such a solution. It appears that the company has made significant progress, as the first picture of such a solution has reached our offices. The board, currently named "GA-8N-SLI Quad", shows four PCI Express slots that can be occupied by SLI-compatible graphics cards. According to sources, Gigabyte found a way to combine two nForce4 SLI chipsets on one platform. Interestingly, the board integrates two different versions of the chipset - the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition (Crush 19) represents the Northbridge, the version for AMD processors is used as Southbridge.

The board will only be able to carry Pentium processors using the socket 775. Sources told us that Gigabyte is currently testing the 4-GPU board and is likely to enable two configurations. First, the GA-8N-SLI Quad will be able to work with two Gigabyte 3D1 dual-GPU cards and make an additional three PCI Express slots available. The second option is to use single-GPU SLI graphics card in each of the four slots. This translates to a support of either two x16 or four x8 PCI Express slots.

Other features of the GA-8N-SLI Quad include four slots for DDR2 memory for a total of 4 GByte memory, four SATA II ports, ten USB 2.0 and three IEE1394a interfaces.

There was no information when the board will be available for purchase, how much the board may cost or what graphics performance could be achieved. However, we feel confident, that there will be enough opportunity for new record scores in benchmarks such as 3DMark05.

ATI will showcase its own multi-GPU solution "Crossfire" at this year's Computex. The company did not release any detailed information about the technology but sources said users will be able to combine Crossfire-enabled cards with any other graphics card. Also, ATI's approach appears not to be limited to just two GPU - or four such as in this case. Crossfire may be able to support up to 32 graphic chips, sources said.

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