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Nvidia readies SLI for Intel's X38?

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IDF Intel will formally launch its awaited gaming-oriented chipset, the X38, on 10 October, the chip maker said yesterday after touting the product's overclocking credentials. It also hinted Nvidia may enable SLI on the chipset.

The X38 supports a pair of PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots - certainly good for SLI set-ups. It supports a 1333MHz frontside bus speed and DDR 3 memory clocked at the same frequency. It'll take DDR 2 too, but only at up to 800MHz.

Intel said the X38's bus ratios will be unlocked, and that it will offer an Extreme Tuning application to go with X38-based boards to enable memory and bus speeds to be tweaked.

The chip maker claimed the ideal processor to partner with the X38 is the upcoming Core 2 Extreme QX9650, its first 45nm four-core desktop CPU. But that doesn't go on sale until 12 November, a month after X38 boards are due to appear.

Intel itself has an X38 board in the pipeline, 'Bonetrail'. It's a single-socket mobo with those two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots for twin graphics cards. It's expected to support AMD's CrossFire multi-board technology, but what about Nvidia's alternative, SLI?

Intel staffers were reticent on the matter, despite the company's Digital Enterprise Group chief, Pat Gelsinger, having demo'd an Intel board running SLI. When Gelsinger's colleague, Steve Smith, was asked to clarify the situation, he would only say, "Nvidia helped us with the demo".

The demo'd board was Intel's 'Skulltrail', announced at the Spring IDF in Beijing and since then revealed to be a dual-socket server board that requires FB-DIMM server memory - though it does have four PCIe slots.

Skulltrail is die to go on sale late Q4 or early Q1 2008, Smith said. He said it did two-GPU SLI in the demo and that he hoped it will go quad-SLI in the future. But that depends on Nvidia enabling it in the driver software, he added.

we asked Nvidia for its take on all this. We're still waiting to hear back.

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