Crossfire and SLI – Isn’t It All A Bit Silly?

As someone who has a need for speed, I wonder why I am writing this.

The problem is that the multi – GPU silliness that has taken over in the last 2 years is on the verge of going into total stupidity. In two places, known for reliable information, I read that both nVidia and ATi are putting the finishing touches on 3 and 4 slot solutions for gaming video. What person in their right mind wants this?

If you look at the evolution of  the personal computer, you see that the size of many things has gotten smaller, even as power and capabilities have grown. Now the top video companies, whose products make up the largest outlay of cash, in most computers not used in business settings, have decided that instead of paying upwards of $700 for two graphics cards is not enough. No, $1050 for many, and  a full $1400 for some is the proper amount to pay for a graphics solution. What makes these producers think that this will work?

Past performance, that’s how. They put the cards out there, and like pigs to the trough, the buyer’s come. And the oinking gets really loud when the trough level gets low.

The CPU manufacturers knew it would not work, in the long run, to have 2 CPU sockets on every motherboard. Not only did the CPU costs go up, the motherboard costs skyrocketed, and it becomes difficult to put other needed items on the ever shrinking motherboard real estate.

It’s much worse with video cards. Not only does having 3 or 4 PCIe x16 slots make for no room for any other add-in cards, it also makes it difficult to integrate other devices on the motherboard. Heat production from the video cards covering the space on the motherboard, or simply the space open to make an external connection becomes the prohibitive factor. Another consideration is power supply wattage. If only 3 cards becomes the norm, average needed to keep things going under load will be around 800. Those who somehow have other things in their computer will want to ‘bulk up’ and get those kilowatt or better PSUs. This doesn’t sound very green, does it?

Cases will have to change, should this catch on. Perhaps we’ll see 12 slot motherboards again. While I would welcome that, it would not be for the reason of having 4 video cards. Another thing to consider is that, if the energy dissipated by the average gaming card doesn’t decrease, everyone not living in an arctic clime will need to investigate the wonders, and cost of liquid cooling. (on the other hand, perhaps this will be credited with raising the population density in Canada’s Nunavut province!)

www.xbitlabs.com_images_news_2006-10_asus_gf8800_pic2 can you imagine 4 of these suckers in one case? Apparently nVidia and ATi can.

It had looked like the road was leading in the right direction when nVidia released the 7950, with doubled-up GPUs on one card, and then better when the 8800 came out and bested the performance of any two 7 series cards, by itself. But that lapse into sanity seems to be wearing off…

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[tags] nVidia, ATi, Crossfire, SLI, power supply wattage, PCIe x16, PC Power and Cooling, kilowatt power supplies [/tags]