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Nvidia concedes SLI for Nehalem chips

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Nvidia is the first to blink in its standoff with Intel over the terms of licensing each others' wares. The graphics chip maker is conceding support for its multi-GPU technology on Intel's upcoming 'Nehalem' processor platform without getting much contractual love in return.

SLI will be available for Intel's 'Bloomfield' line of Nehalem chips and the accompanying gamer-oriented chipset, the X58. New motherboards catering to Bloomfield CPUs and X58 chipset will use the nForce 200 SLI processor to bridge a maximum of three Nvidia GPUs.

Nvidia claims the silicon can provide up to a 2.8x performance boost over traditional single graphic card platforms.

Nehalem, due later this year, introduces a new bus technology that Intel calls QuickPath Interconnect (QPI). If Nvidia or any other vendor wants to support Nehalem processors, they need to license QPI technology.

Done and done, claims Nvidia. A 2003 agreement between the two companies already gives Nvidia the right to make boards for Nehalem, according to Nvidia — but Intel sees things quite differently. Both have been disputing the finer points of their pact's print.

One ace up Nvidia's sleeve has been Intel's interest in SLI. Intel already supports the technology in its 'Skulltrail' gaming motherboard, and has eyes for extending that coverage to other chipsets.

Today's announcement may yet sweeten talks between the companies, although Intel has already stated such moves won't be stirring a more liberal reading of the disputed contract. Last month, Intel said it's "not seeking any SLI concession from Nvidia in exchange for granting any Nehalem license rights."

And that's pretty straightforward, short of dissecting the word "seeking," as being coy.

Motherboards and systems supporting the union will be sold by vendors such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, Falcon Northwest, and Fujitsu-Siemens.

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