Nvidia certifies SLI partners, readies for launch

San Jose (CA) - Nvidia has begun to certify partners for its Scalable Link Interface technology (SLI) which allows users to run two graphic cards in a computer. The availability of SLI has not been announced yet, but systems and board manufacturers "are getting ready" to ship, according to Nvidia.

Nvidia apparently is in the final stages to officially launch SLI and make take technology available just in time for Christmas. Today the company announced a certification program which includes system builders, motherboard and add-in card manufacturers. According to senior product manager Micah Stroud, the certification program had been initiated in October and will allow manufacturers to carry a "SLI Ready" logo on the product box.

"The program is intended to steer customers to the right motherboard or add-in card," Stroud said. All products with the SLI Ready logo are validated by Nvidia and guarantee users to work with other components. At this time, SLI only supports GeForce 6600 GT, 6800 GT and 6800 Ultra graphic cards. According to Stroud, a SLI also will only support graphic cards of the same type and from the same manufacturer within one system.

Currently 19 system builders are certified, which all will introduce AMD and nForce4-based SLI-systems at the time of launch. Alienware will be the only company to offer an Intel-based SLI system at launch, including Xeon processors with up to 3.6 GHz clock speed. "We have gone out of our way with the certification of Alienware," Stroud said. Nvidia's focus on the nForce4 will allow the company not only to sell one more of its products but also will the deliver the highest performance, according to the company.

SLI initially will be targeted only at enthusiasts who intend to increase the gaming performance of their PC. Stroud said that there are no immediate advantages of the technology in other applications; however SLI would be likely to be also considered for workstations and "production-type" applications some time in the future.

According to media reports, ATI is working on its own version of running dual graphic cards in one system and will launch the technology in 2005. Alienware also is preparing a solution with similar effect for the customer: The firm's "video array" however allows combining any graphic cards in a computer. Alienware so far has not said when the video array will be launched.