Graphics, Hardware

Hello Bulldozer: nVidia Officially Confirms Return of SLI to AMD Platform

NVIDIAs director of technical marketing Tom Peterson
today confirmed in a blog post
that SLI will be opened up on AMD 9 series chipsets. This is the official
confirmation for what we reported about almost a month ago <

Peterson acknowledges that a lot of gamers requested
SLI to be enabled on current AMD platforms again. He also mentions that back in
the day AMD offered great high-end CPUs, but that the company lost mindshare
with gamers once Intel started to outperform them. For this reason NVIDIA
licensed SLI only for Intel chipsets. Now with the competitive landscape
changing NVIDIA decided to welcome users on the AMD platform again. This and
some other recent moves in the industry prove there is a lot of momentum
surrounding the upcoming high-end desktop CPUs dubbed AMD FX

It should be mentioned, that NVIDIAs SLI technology
debuted on the AMD platform when the nForce 4 SLI chipset was launched for
Athlon64 CPUs. Later NVIDIA also released an Intel version of the chipset. Back
then SLI was enabled on NVIDIA chipsets (and some select Intel workstation
chipsets) only. This went on for some time until two things happened. On the
one hand AMDs platform became less interesting for NVIDIA due to Intels
performance leadership. On the other hand, Intel denied NVIDIA a license to
offer updated chipsets for their CPUs. Fast forward to today, NVIDIA bailed out
of the chipset business after receiving large sums of money from Intel

NVIDIA also points out, that based on the Steam
Hardware Survey <> about 93% of
all multi-GPU setups out there are based on their SLI technology. So
business-wise the decision to open it up to a greater audience makes perfect
sense. However NVIDIA fails to acknowledge that in March 2011 about 28% of
gamers used processors from AMD according to the same survey. Considering AMDs
x86 market share <link to my other bsn piece>, this is a solid number and
can be explained by AMDs very competitively priced offerings that are popular
among buyers looking for a steal.

Those people hoping for SLI support on previous AMD
chipsets will be disappointed though. Due to the way SLI licensing works this
is not going to happen. NVIDIA charges $5 per mainboard sold with official SLI
support. Enabling SLI on AMD 7xx/8xx chipsets would mean retroactively
licensing SLI, something that simply is out of the question even though
technically possible. Instead NVIDIA announced that SLI has been licensed to
major mainboard vendors for their upcoming AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets.
NVIDIA specifically mentions ASUS, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI in the blog post.
Interestingly since our report, apparently support for the 970 chipset has
sneaked in.

By the way, with this move NVIDIA was faster in
confirming AMDs upcoming chipsets than the creator itself.