NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2
So you got yourself a nice new multi-GPU setup and now you think you’re the new King of the Gaming World. You think your machine is so fast you put on a neck-brace and crash helmet before firing up Oblivion. Your desk has speed brakes and a parachute, your chair an ejection system in case things get too hairy too fast. So un-Godly fast is your machine you believe the Pope should drop by and exorcize it of its demonic ways. Birds sing and dolphins leap, all in praise of your 3DMark score. Nothing, not of this universe or the next, could possibly put as many pixels on screen like the machine that is warming your toes right now.
NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2
Not so, my FPS addicted friend, not so.
You see, while you were off prancing around the forests of Tamriel, NVIDIA released a new graphics card for those like you, those addicted to the eye-candy and the almighty FPS counter. Not just a graphics card mind you, but really two graphics cards in one. Two PCBs bolted together, two fans, two GPUs, two banks of memory; all in one sneaky little SKU NVIDIA likes to call the GeForce 7950 GX2.
The idea of combining multiple GPUs on one SKU isn’t new; dreams of multi-GPU graphics cards have been floating around almost as long as 3D graphics hardware has.
ATI took a shot at a dual-chip board when they produced and shipped the Rage Fury MAXX, built using two of their Rage Fury 128 Pro chips. Unfortunately, while the MAXX worked and did what it was designed to do (at least under Windows 98), it met up against NVIDIA’s GeForce juggernaut and, even with two chips, simply could not compete. Adding to the demise of the MAXX name was also the fact that it had near fatal problems under Microsoft’s new Windows 2000 OS that ATI never could solve.
Probably the most famous attempt at the idea however was by 3dfx when they started design on the Voodoo 5 line. The Voodoo 5 5000, Voodoo 5 5500, and Voodoo 5 6000 each featured multiple chips on one board using 3dfx’s VSA-100 architecture. The 5000 and 5500 both featured dual-chip designs and the Voodoo 6000 was designed, maybe over-designed, with an amazing four chips on one board. However, the 5000 and 6000 were both eventually cancelled and the Voodoo 5500, while it did ship, met with overwhelming competition from NVIDIA's GeForce 2 and ATI’s new Radeon. This spelled the end for the Voodoo 5 and, ultimately, 3dfx itself.
We’ve also recently saw several partner companies try it. Guys like Gigabyte, ASUS, HIS, and Powercolor have shown and produced some products, with varying degrees of success, using technology from both sides of the Graphics War frontline.
With NVIDIA’s 7950 GX2 however, we have the first instance of a single consumer level card taking the multi-PCB approach to the idea of multi-GPU processing and, with development at the IHV level and proven technology behind it, this may be the first time that a multi-GPU card has real potential for success.