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MSI SLI DBS - Another HEXUS World Exclusive

by Steve Kerrison on 17 December 2004, 00:00


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa55

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MSI SLI DBS - Another HEXUS World Exclusive

MSI nForce4 Ultra 'Dual Bridge System' increases appeal of NVIDIA SLI to the value conscious

At the beginning of the week, reporting from our findings at NVIDIA's Editors Day in San Jose, David wrote a short article (XLi Technology) which broke the news that a second tier Taiwanese mainboard manufacturer is set to introduce NVIDIA based SLI solutions based upon an alternative technological approach; an approach which does not require the additional PCB bridge detailed in our comprehensive NVIDIA SLI coverage (See here , here and here)

HEXUS prides itself on its relationship with World Class manufacturers, and it's often these relationships which enable us to bring you guys some of the most exclusive coverage available.

With that in mind have a gander at the following previously unpublished pictures of MSI's recently introduced NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra based K8N Neo4 Platinum mainboard for AMD Socket 939 processors, which is running dual NVIDIA 6600GT MSI NX6600GT-VTD128 3D accelerators in SLI mode!

Presently NVIDIA only officially promotes SLI on it's nForce4 SLI core logic, and not nForce4 Ultra upon which the K8N Neo4 Platinum mainboard is based.

MSI have exclusively confirmed to HEXUS that its evolution of NVIDIA SLI based technology is 'DBS' which stands for 'Dual Bridge System'.

Although the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum based rig pictured is installed with dual NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT based MSI NX6600GT-VTD128 3D accelerators, we see no reason why its enhanced NX6600-VTD128 Diamond 6600GT accelerators could not be employed.

Furthermore as we know for sure that MSI's R&D labs in Taiwan have also successfully tested its NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT based NX6800GT-TD256 accelerators in SLI mode using its unique DBS technology, so we think it's likely that MSI's GeForce 6800 Ultra based NX6800 Ultra-T2D256 will also have been tested.

But how does it all perform?

MSI claim that testing under Futuremark 3DMark05, its MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum based test rig achieves a ~75% boost in performance with two of its NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT based MSI NX6800GT-TD256 3D accelerators in SLI-DBS mode, relative to a single NX6800GT-TD256.

The same test system is claimed to achieve a 54% increase under Futuremark 3DMark03.

Obviously HEXUS will be running our own tests in the very near future, but the numbers claimed by MSI for its NX6800GT-TD256 in SLI-DBS Mode are as follows:

Futuremark 3DMark03
1x MSI NX6800GT-TD256 2x MSI NX6800GT-TD256 SLI-DBS Mode Claimed % Increase
12316 18950 54%

Futuremark 3DMark05
1x MSI NX6800GT-TD256 2x MSI NX6800GT-TD256 SLI-DBS Mode Claimed % Increase
4907 8592 75%

Another MSI test rig, though again based upon its K8N Neo4 Platinum mainboard but installed with two NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT based MSI NX6600GT-VTD128 3D accelerators apparently gives around a 58% performance increase in Futuremark's 3DMark03, and roughly 35% in 3DMark05.

Unlike the K8N Neo4 Platinum system installed with MSI NX6800GT-TD256, more details of the spec of this particular K8N Neo4 Platinum system have been provided. Sitting within the Socket 939 of the K8N Neo4 Platinum is an AMD Athlon 64 FX 55 which has been paired with 1GB of Corsair XMS DDR400, and version NVIDIA ForceWare display device drivers were installed.

The numbers claimed for this nForce4 Ultra based K8N Neo4 Platinum with NX6600GT-VTD128 in SLI-DBS Mode system are:

Futuremark 3DMark03
1x MSI NX6600GT-TD256 2x MSI NX6600GT-TD256 SLI-DBS Mode Claimed % Increase
8872 14052 58%

Futuremark 3DMark05
1x MSI NX6600GT-TD256 2x MSI NX6600GT-TD256 SLI-DBS Mode Claimed % Increase
3558 4819 35%

Apparently MSI claim that the BIOS of its K8N Neo4 Platinum mainboard “includes some very simple but effective overclocking features” and that because it's “very good at overclocking” the “percentage (increase using MSI SLI – DBS mode over a single card) can be boosted” to even greater levels by overclocking both the mainboard and the graphics accelerators.

We're of the understanding that BIOS of the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum mainboard has the ability to not only overclock the host processor, system RAM and HyperTransport frequencies, but also to overclock the PCI-Express graphics cards in the system (both NVIDIA and ATi it seems).

Whilst the performance if an MSI SLI-DBS system may not quite parallel that of NVIDIA's officially validated platform, the cost savings for running an MSI nForce4 Ultra based DBS SLI system will be significant when compared to an SLI rig based on an nForce4 SLI chipset, and we think that it's likely to have a very high appeal and will help grow the NVIDIA SLI market.

At the time of writing we're checking pricing and will update this article accordingly.

As we see it, is the first time we've seen a compelling, value/performance based, reason to go for an SLI rig based upon dual GeForce 6600GT. Kudos to MSI!

HEXUS Gallery

Here are some shots of the hardware


HEXUS Senior Editor, Ryszard Sommefeldt adds:

"It's obvious that the driver is using AFR mode in the two Futuremark tests, allowing for the gains shown that can only be possible if the geometry setup part of the rendering process is being accelerated. 6600 GT and 6800 GT achieve different gains in the tests due to CPU limitation, although it must be said the 3DMark05 score on the 6600 GT system seems a little odd. The usual SLI caveats apply with Dual Bridge, using a 16 + 2 lane setup, as they do with 8 + 8, but if it allows SLI to show up at a lower price point, as Paul says, big kudos to MSI."