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ASRock 939SLI-eSATA2 motherboard featuring dual PEG adaptors - Courtesy OCWorkbench.com
NVIDIA employees put the dream of owning an SLI ASRock motherboard to rest

A good colleague of mine, Anton Shilov, has a few interesting tidbits about the popular ASRock 939SLI-eSATA2 and 939SLI32-eSATA2 motherboards that have been flying off store shelves recently.  Although the motherboards utilize the ULi M1697 northbridge are capable of a dual 8 lane PCIe configuration, Shilov discovered that NVIDIA will not support SLI in any configuration for these motherboards.

“The Asrock board is not a certified configuration and will not be supported in the future. Our highest priority is to certify motherboards featuring Nvidia nForce MCPs,” said Bryan Del Rizzo, a spokesman for Nvidia chipset division.

Even though many in the motherboard industry somewhat expected this reaction, there was a small anticipation that NVIDIA would give ULi chipset motherboards some leeway after NVIDIA acquired the company a few weeks ago.  There are several non-certified drivers that will allow rudimentry SLI configuration on the motherboards, but most of these drivers are based on extremely old Detonator revisions and none are certified by NVIDIA.


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Not surprised at all
By JarredWalton on 2/2/2006 3:58:06 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not happy about their actions either, but this was completely expected. Anyway, I'll continue to state publicly that I don't think SLI is anything special - and neither is CrossFire. Unless you have plenty of spare change, there are many better ways to spend your pennies. Let's not even talk about the pseudo dual-X16 slots from NVIDIA either. NB = 24 lanes, SB = 20 lanes, right? But they both connect to the CPU with the same HyperTransport link, and the NB links to the SB at what, 1000 MB/s max? Much ado about nothing.




RE: Not surprised at all
By mino on 2/2/2006 5:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it's something like 4GBps full-duplex on AMD in theory and 3-3.2GBps in practice.
However your point is pretty valid, since a single x16 slot or two x8 slots provide pretty close values - theoretically the same, in practice a little slower ones.


RE: Not surprised at all
By JarredWalton on 2/2/2006 9:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
But that's my point. 1000 MHz double-pumped HyperTransport is 4 GB/s up and 4 GB/s down. Cool. PCIe X16 is also 4 GB/s up and 4 GB/s down, right? But dual X16 slots running off of a NB are still limited to the same 4 GB/s up and down, so there really is no advantage to the dual X16 over dual X8 lanes. Even worse is that the NB to SB connection on the boards I've seen is generally limited to 600 MHz 8-bit, which means it's only about 1.2 GB/s up and down.

It's like trying to suck up enough water to put out a fire through a coffee straw. Or really, it's a relatively large water pipe feeding an even larger water pipe: the source pipe can never actually saturate the second pipe.


SLI
By Slaimus on 2/2/2006 6:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
According to http://www.asrock.com.tw/product/939SLI32-eSATA2.h...

quote:

2 x PCI Express x16 slot for VGA interface supporting nVidia SLI™




RE: SLI
By JarredWalton on 2/2/2006 9:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
LOL - yeah, they support it, but NVIDIA has chosen to not let it work. Ummm.... Gotta love marketing!


RE: SLI
By prohandyman on 2/3/2006 12:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't mean that NVidia may decide to support the chipset in the future with true SLI after the merger is complete.


Where does leave ATI
By p4nts on 2/2/2006 4:34:30 AM , Rating: 2
What are ATI going to do for a decent south bridge now?
Can't imagine Nvidia contiuing to develop new and improved South Bridges for them?




RE: Where does leave ATI
By mino on 2/2/2006 5:45:28 AM , Rating: 2
As far as rumour goes SB600 looks good so the SB should not a be a issue (at least not such an issue as now).


Just to screw ATI
By DigitalFreak on 2/2/2006 9:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
I think this pretty much proves that Nvidia purchased ULI to screw ATI.




RE: Just to screw ATI
By mindless1 on 2/2/2006 11:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
Then you have a quite bizarre definition of proof.


Except...
By Cygni on 2/2/2006 12:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Except ULi will continue to supply southbridges to all customers with ATI chipsets. That was announced a while back. So this move had nothing to do with trying to "screw" ATI in the short term, and much more to do with trying to out compete them in the long term.

ULi's last two AMD chipsets (the 95 and 97) did not go unnoticed by the big dogs in the chipset world. They were at the top of nearly every benchmark on the increadibly competitive S939 platform. The lack of a memory controller put most chipsets within a few % points, so for a board/chipset to standout in the pack, its really got to be done right. The fact that this board was a budget board from ASRock with a backwards compatabile feature set really got peoples heads turning and wallets opening, just as the K7S5A did, another budget board with the best performance and backwards compatability around for awhile.

There was talk when the 95 chipset first launched that ATI was in talks to buy ULi, but the deal fell through, and NVIDIA got em instead. They end up with a group that was seemingly "on the verge" of moving to the top of the chipset heap... so pretty much they gobbled them up right on time. It was clearly a smart business move, imo.




RE: Except...
By bldckstark on 2/2/2006 12:56:19 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that business is about money. Nvidia now gets part of the profit on all ATI MB's. Can't beat that can you. Make money on your boards and on your competitors! That is sweet.


Well..
By hwhacker on 2/2/2006 11:22:04 AM , Rating: 2
I think the primary reason was to screw ATi until SB600 (mid-year). The secondary reason was probably for patents, like how they achieve amazing HTT and such...Which you'll probably see in new nvidia mobos. Thirdly, I think they wanted a name to use for lower-end mobos without any frills or expensive parts. I think it was a pretty smart, if not incredibley shrewd move.

and btw, like the rest of you, not at all surprised by this.




flying off what shelves
By arswihart on 2/2/2006 12:54:30 PM , Rating: 2
These Asrock boards are flying off what shelves? I didn't think they were available to buy yet.




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