Print 20 comment(s) - last by Knish.. on Jun 13 at 11:44 PM

nForce 550 chipset courtesy of HKEPC
Take out that soldering iron and turn your nForce 550 or 570 motherboard into an SLI compatible motherboard

HKEPC has stumbled across a few interesting findings regarding the non-SLI compatible nForce 5 variants. A motherboard manufacturer by the name of Magic-Pro has an nForce 550 motherboard that is compatible with SLI—the A2N5. This is quite strange as NVIDIA doesn’t certify the nForce 550 for SLI operation but somehow Magic-Pro has found a way around it. The A2N5 has two full length PCI Express x16 slots with eight lanes routed to each slot—similar to an nForce 570 SLI setup. NVIDIA drivers were able to detect two graphics card and open up SLI options on the Magic-Pro A2N5.

The A2N5 was than compared to other nForce 550 motherboards and it was found the nForce 550 chipset lacked a resistor that was found on other nForce 550 core logics. This is similar to how nForce 4 Ultra boards were modified for SLI compatibility. After further examination HKEPC did further experimentation with an MSI K9N Platinum nForce 570 motherboard. The K9N Platinum nForce 570 motherboard appeared to have the resistor soldered in place that prevented SLI operation. It was removed but SLI operation was still disabled on the motherboard. 

There was more to just unsoldering a single resistor to enable SLI operation on nForce 550 and nForce 570 chipsets. A couple more resisters had to be removed around the second PCI Express x16 slot to divide the sixteen PCI Express lanes to both slots. After removing more resistors HKEPC achieved success and was able to mod the MSI K9N Platinum nForce 570 motherboard to allow SLI. SLI performance on modified nForce 550 and 570 motherboards came out identical to a regular nForce 570 SLI motherboard.

nForce 550 and 570 users shouldn’t rejoice quite yet. Although the modification appears to work well, don’t expect it to be working for too much longer. If previous nForce 4 Ultra modifications is a hint of things to come expect NVIDIA to find a way to prevent SLI support on uncertified motherboards. While this modification is a hard mod the chipset ID still remains the same so expect NVIDIA to use this to its advantage.  nForce 570 and 570 SLI only have a price differential of about $20 right now, so for those not handy with a soldering iron, the modification might not be worth the elbow grease either.

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RE: Saw that coming
By Lord Evermore on 6/13/2006 8:56:05 AM , Rating: 4
Of course then they could come out with "nvidia Genuine Advantage" and require that you install a program that validates via the Internet that your system does actually have an authorized, purchased ability to run SLI, during the bootup process, before the second card is enabled. And that software could check a serial number burned into a permanent ROM chip required on every motherboard (or in each chipset) to ensure that people don't just share some sort of "authorization" file, and if you change your motherboard you have to make a phone call and read off a 200 digit number to authorize SLI on your new board, or even better, you have to buy it again if you change boards.

RE: Saw that coming
By Stele on 6/13/2006 9:38:40 PM , Rating: 2
That's one heck of a scary story... everybody jumping on the Genuine Advantage bandwagon! :S But sarcasm aside, who knows, it might just happen one fine day.

And that software could check a serial number burned into a permanent ROM chip required on every motherboard (or in each chipset)

Except that won't this cause the same problems and uproar that the PIII did with the CPU serial number? Then motherboard manufacturers would be forced to include an option to turn it off (and which is usually set to OFF by default) to 'protect consumer privacy' or whatever.

RE: Saw that coming
By Lord Evermore on 6/13/2006 10:06:34 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, but then you'd have the option to either turn it off, or turn it on if you want to purchase the SLI functionality, and it would have a legitimate reason (nearly unbreakable authentication scheme). Of course there'd be a huge uproar over only making SLI available to people who were willing to turn it on, but that didn't stop Intel from trying it, why should it stop anybody else?

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