Is the Intel LGA775 platform dead? From SLI to Intel X48 - hardly!


    As you know, SLI is a technology for combining several video cards in one system in order to increase productivity in graphic applications. Already in its second incarnation from NVIDIA, it entered the world of computer games for a long time, but it did not achieve popularity. The technology did not receive wide support because of the game developers themselves who do not want to optimize their creations, and also because not everyone can afford to buy several video cards in one computer at once, and with the release of a new generation of GPUs, this is often no longer necessary . Also, the stumbling block in the development of SLI was the very politicized requirements for chipsets, and more specifically, their licensing for technology support. For example, support for SLI was fully provided only by the chipsets of NVIDIA itself, and the first Intel chipset, widespread, with support for SLI, was only the Intel X58, which appeared only about a year ago. And the fact that at first not all X58 motherboards supported SLI was again affected by the reluctance of NVIDIA to share the market with Intel. But life has shown that NVIDIA lost the technological race in chipset building, and the consumer finally got the right to choose. But only in the latest generation of the Intel platform (LGA 1366) - very expensive and by no means ambiguous, because even after a year the need to change cool-welded systems based on Intel X48 is still in question. that NVIDIA lost the technological race in chipset building, and the consumer finally got the right to choose. But only in the latest generation of the Intel platform (LGA 1366) - very expensive and by no means ambiguous, because even after a year the need to change cool-welded systems based on Intel X48 is still in question. that NVIDIA lost the technological race in chipset building, and the consumer finally got the right to choose. But only in the latest generation of the Intel platform (LGA 1366) - very expensive and by no means ambiguous, because even after a year the need to change cool-welded systems based on Intel X48 is still in question.
    But then the plot developed unexpectedly ...

    Suddenly, the "included" support for SLI on motherboards based on the X58 chipset, on which, at the time of release, it did not seem to be supported (And here you are! Press releases, driver updates ...) clearly showed that at the hardware level, the chipsets were ready to work with SLI initially, and gave hope that it would be possible to modify the video card driver to work with other Intel chipsets (previous generations). And it did happen! Enthusiasts distributed updated versions of drivers and instructions for enabling SLI on the LGA 775 platform. After that, for many users of Intel X48-based systems the question: “To be or not to be?” - unequivocally decided not in favor of the super-expensive LGA 1366 platform. The old Core 2 Duo is livelier than all the living!
    We conducted a detailed study, tested the performance of SLI technology on the chipset from Intel X48. Let me remind you that this chipset does not have official support for SLI.

    Tricky trick

    But for starters, I think it’s right to introduce you to the primary source of information and the actual instructions for enabling SLI -, and in a few words to talk about what allowed to enable SLI on any Intel chipsets. With the release of the Intel X58 platform in drivers for NVIDIA video cards, a special file with SLI support appeared specifically for this chipset. The main task that the enthusiasts faced was to make the driver believe that our motherboard carries the Intel X58 chipset on board. For this, a file containing information about the Intel X48 chipset is forcibly replaced by a file containing information about the Intel X58 chipset. Then a modified driver is installed, which considers our manipulations to be true and installs without errors. After rebooting, the system finds several installed video cards, and in the NVIDIA Control Panel a tab appears that is responsible for enabling SLI. After quite simple manipulations, The GPU-Z assurance system claims that SLI technology is active. In order to finally make sure that SLI is working on Intel X48, we conducted independent testing.

    What you need for SLI to work

    To use SLI technology, you need a motherboard with SLI support or a motherboard without official SLI support on the Intel chipset, but with more than two PCI-E expansion slots and two NVIDIA video cards of the same model and preferably one manufacturer. The use of video cards from different brands is also possible, but difficulties may arise due to different BIOSes wired to video adapters. Many brands prefer to overclock their graphics cards by flashing higher core / shader domain / video memory frequencies. Different frequencies for cards of the same model can become a problem in the operation of the SLI mode. In addition to motherboards and video cards, a “mandatory” attribute of a SLI system is a flexible or rigid SLI bridge connecting video adapters to each other. Cards can work in SLI mode and without it, but the bandwidth of the PCI-E slots for transferring and exchanging data between them is not enough. This is where the SLI bridge comes to the rescue.
    And now it's time to move on to testing!

    SLI brige

    We have assembled the following testbed configuration:

    • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E8400 (3GHz)
    • cooling of water heat treatment (water cooling system) SiD Pro v.1.1
    • Asus Rampage Extreme motherboard (Intel X48)
    • RAM 2x1Gb Kingston HyperX 1333MHz CL7
    • graphics cards: Leadtek GTX285 and Zotac GTX285
    • power supply: Enermax Revolution 1050W
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500Gb Hard Drive

    Leadtek GeForce GTX285

    Zotac GeForce GTX285 AMP!

    Asus ramp extreme

    Testing methodology

    Testing was carried out according to the following algorithm:
    1. Study of system performance with default settings with one video card;
    2. The study of system performance when overclocking the processor to 4500 MHz with one video card, frequency 648/1476/1242 MHz (respectively, for the kernel / shader / memory);
    3. The study of system performance when overclocking the processor to 4500 MHz with one video card, frequency 740/1560/1380 MHz (respectively, for the core / shader / memory);
    4. Study of system performance when overclocking a processor up to 4500 MHz with two video cards in SLI mode, frequencies 740/1560/1380 MHz (respectively, for the core / shader / memory).

    The following were selected as test applications:
    3DMark'05- A popular graphics benchmark from the Finnish company, graphics quality settings are set by default, the resolution is 1024x768.

    Far Cry 2 - continuation of the sensational game from the studio CryTek. Graphics Modes:
    1280x1024, directX9, low;
    1280x1024, directX10, high;
    1680x1050, directX9, low;
    1680x1050, directX10, high.

    Anabiosis is a popular game with a simple and demanding graphic benchmark. Graphics mode:
    1280x1024, medium;
    1280x1024, high;
    1680x1050, medium;
    1680x1050, high.

    Crysis Warhead is one of the most popular games that has brought to its knees the quality of its graphics very powerful modern computers. Modes:
    1280x1024, direct 9, AA off, gamer;
    1280x1024, direct 9, AA 16xQ, gamer;
    1280x1024, direct 10, AA off, gamer;
    1280x1024, direct 10, AA 16xQ, gamer;
    1680x1050, direct 9, AA off, gamer;
    1680x1050, direct 9, AA 16xQ, gamer;
    1680x1050, direct 10, AA off, gamer;
    1680x1050, direct 10, AA 16xQ, gamer.

    Tom Clancy`s HAWX is a popular simulator that has a built-in benchmark with an aviation theme and support for DirectX 10.



    3DMark'05 showed excellent scalability from overclocking the processor. With overclocking the video card, the performance increase, although it is observed, is not as huge as the increase in the frequency of the CPU. The inclusion of SLI technology gives a tangible performance boost - 2500 3DMarks on top. 3DMark'05 is very sensitive to CPU performance, so this is a lot for him.


    In "Anabiosis" the situation is identical, however, there is no tangible gain from overclocking the processor. But I would, on the contrary, attribute this to the advantages of this game, since here the main emphasis is placed on the graphics. SLI provides about 25 percent performance increase compared to single-card mode, which is a lot.


    Improving the quality of graphics drains fps by only a few frames, which indicates a sufficiently large margin of video card performance to ensure a comfortable game in higher resolutions.


    Raising the resolution to 1680x1050 somewhat worsens the result, but, nevertheless, the indicators are at a high level, and we can say with confidence that with these graphics settings you can play without problems. SLI - generally out of competition!


    Setting the quality of the graphics to the maximum, we observe an almost imperceptible deterioration in the results. The difference from using one or two video cards is almost 20 frames, which is undoubtedly an excellent indicator of the technology!


    Far cry 2demonstrates a high dependence on processor performance, its acceleration by 50 percent gives us an almost directly proportional increase in the result. But optimization for the SLI mode is not observed.

    Far cry 2

    With the inclusion of the DirectX 10 API Suite, the situation becomes absurd. Two video cards in SLI mode lose even one overclocked video card.

    Far cry 2

    With an increase in resolution and the inclusion of DirectX 9, the situation becomes familiar, two video cards are faster, but the gain from using SLI is very weak.
    Far cry 2

    DirectX 10 again and SLI failed again. Will we throw stones at game developers or NVIDIA driver developers?

    Crysis warhead

    Crysis warheadcreated by the same development team as Far Cry, so there is nothing surprising in the fact that the game again depends heavily on the processor clock speed.

    Crysis warhead

    Surprisingly, the inclusion of AA 16xQ mode gives a very small increase in fps, although it would seem to cause the opposite effect. Could the resolution be too low?

    Crysis warhead

    With the transition to DirectX 10 and the quality of graphics to the maximum, the alignment of forces and frames does not change at all!
    Crysis warhead

    I would like to note separately that the gain from SLI in the DirectX 10 mode of operation, although small, is there, so the problem is still in Crysis Warhead itself?
    Crysis warhead

    Increasing resolution does not change the balance of power. Is it really only in HD resolution that the difference will be visible?
    Crysis warhead

    The inclusion of 16xQ anti-aliasing based on the results of our testing does not degrade the results at all. It seems to me that this is at least strange.

    Crysis warhead

    What we need for a comfortable game is a processor with a higher clock speed and a modern video card. Here he is the key to success!
    Crysis warhead

    Crysis Warhead, based on the results, confirms that SLI technology is active and is being used.


    HAWX shows us not too noticeable increase from overclocking of components. Installing an additional video card is practically not noticeable: three frames of increase are very few.


    Well, now you can activate SLI mode on any Intel chipset - if only you have enough PCI-Express slots for your "green cards". Without any difficulties, we managed to activate the SLI mode on the motherboard based on the Intel X48 chipset - Asus Rampage Extreme. We spent about ten minutes on this, and in fact it turned out to be very easy. I consider it fair to say thanks for the work done to Ukrainian enthusiast TiNthanks to which many computers will be able to catch up in performance in modern games just by buying another video card. But still, we have to admit that it was not possible to completely circle the manufacturer’s finger: the effect of applying SLI depends not only on the manufacturers of the hardware part, but, and even more, on the optimization of drivers and game program code, but here things are not so good, and many of the games tested today showed a greater dependence on the processor than the increase from the second video card. Game developers are more interested in shifting the problem to users and forcing them to purchase new, more productive platforms than in spending time and money on optimizing the program code :) But still I want to hope

    Testing conducted - Vladimir Kits SiD
    Text writer - Vladislav Zakharov slamms

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