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Guitar Gamer
June 11th, 2004, 18:00
Alienware PC To Contain Two Graphics Cards

Alienware Corp. has designed a "video array" that places two PC graphics cards in parallel on a single motherboard, an innovation that could dramatically its PCs' graphics processing power.

According to an Alienware spokesman, the company believes Video Array will offer between 50 to 90 percent more performance than a single graphics card. A custom-designed "X2" motherboard using an Intel-based chipset will support graphics cards from either ATI Technologies Inc. or Nvidia Corp.

"We've completely moved the benchmark," an Alienware spokesman said.

The Alienware Video Array and X2 motherboard will debut either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, exclusively through Alienware's new ALX brand, catering to high-performance gamers, the company said.

The technology looks remarkably similar to the Parallel Graphics Configuration graphics card maker Metabyte Technology pioneered in 1999, when it took two Voodoo 2 SLI cards from 3Dfx Technology and ran them in parallel. The Voodoo 2 Scan-Line Interleave technology allowed the two graphics cards to draw alternating horizontal lines of resolution; Metabyte slightly altered the technology, allowing each card to draw one half of the screen. The Metabyte PGC technology was eventually purchased by Alienware, although the PC maker never shipped any products based on the technology.

Like the PGC, the two cards won't always divvy up processing tasks equally. If the 3D perspective looks toward a horizon with a relatively simple skyscape above, the second card may be pressed into duty to render the more complex portions of the scene, the spokesman said.

The Video Array technology will be built into the X2 motherboard, which will accept graphics cards from several manufacturers, the Alienware spokesman said -- although it is likely that both cards will have to be identical to synchronize the system. The custom-designed board will only accept PCI Express-based graphics cards. That means that the X2 motherboard will at least initially be designed exclusively for Intel-based systems, since AMD's chipset partners won't have PCI Express-capable chipsets in time to beat Intel, industry sources have said.

Alienware will employ liquid cooling to pump heat away from the system, which will also result in a reduction in fan noise, the spokesman said.

Previous attempts at dividing up graphics processing have abstracted the problem of keeping both portions of the scene in sync to the driver level.

Alienware owns multiple patents on the technology. While not ruling out the possibility that a competitor might reverse-engineer the technology, the spokesman said, "they'll probably be 8 to 9 months behind."

Don't know if anyone has posted about this here yet so...

I know - the first thing I thought was - "and what century will normal people be able to afford it?" In my opinion its going to be totally out of a worthwhile price range. None the less its an amazing concept. Just imagine what could be done with say... Dual GeForce 6800. I begin to drool at the thought.

What do you all think?

Lefteris_D
June 11th, 2004, 18:07
A hard disk array is nice, a dual CPU is nice but a graphics array? I need to see that for myself to be able to comment on the output quality.

onewecallgod
June 11th, 2004, 18:15
yeah i heard about this a long time ago. dual GPUs is nothing new; dont forget the old dual Voodoo 2s. that would be rediculous with 2 x800p/xt or 2 6800u/nu/gt. crazy and expensive power......

MONKEY_NUTS
June 11th, 2004, 22:23
Dual quadro fx 3000's.. :o

Lefteris_D
June 11th, 2004, 22:28
And that brings up another question.

Where the fuck can we get a game that needs such a large ammount of power? :blink:

Zach
June 11th, 2004, 23:00
Any game.

Try running it in a standard resolution, say 1024x768

Then try 1280x1024, then 1600x1200.. As you climb the scope of resolutions you need more power to get smoother play.

In the case if Alienware, most of their stuff is overpriced garbage anyway. You could build the same rig for hundreds less.

And I resent them calling this revolutionary. And I'd also like to know how they achieved this, short of getting high level access to all the cards they would use in their rig, to write their own drivers ( which knowing Alienware, they would charge for as they upgraded the versions)

And just for those who missed the blurb about liquid cooling in that rig - it will also be shit knowing Alienware; so good luck on any overclocking hopes.

MONKEY_NUTS
June 11th, 2004, 23:40
Originally posted by Lefteris_D@Jun 11 2004, 10:28 PM
And that brings up another question.

Where the fuck can we get a game that needs such a large ammount of power? :blink:
Stuff gaming, rendering 3 million polly scenes. Thats where its needed.

onewecallgod
June 12th, 2004, 04:27
Originally posted by Lefteris_D
Where the fuck can we get a game that needs such a large ammount of power?

farcry, Doom3, HL2...etc