Abit AN8 32X Motherboard Review :: Introduction

03-05-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

The idea of using dual video cards to improve performance in games was first introduced with the 3DFX Voodoo2 SLI. At the time SLI stood for Scan Line Interleave. The way that the technology worked was each chip on the video cards rendered part of the screen. In many cases the 3DFX Voodoo2 SLI was twice as fast as a single card.

The next foray into "SLI" technology was made by 3DFX and their Voodoo5. In this instance, SLI was done on a single card. Other video card manufacturers also joined the bandwagon, with the ATI Rage Fury MAXX AFR card that died before it was born, being a spectacular failure due to the non-support of the latest Windows OS.

For several years dual video cards were the exclusive province of the workstation and Digital Content Creation markets, as NVIDIA and ATI didn't feel the need or have the infrastructure in their chipsets to support dual video cards at the same time. The AGP bus was also a constraint, as the bus was not wide enough to support two cards profitably. To counter this, Intel released their new LGA-775 chipset in 2004. With the new chipset came a new video card bus, PCI Express.

PCI Express is a Serial Point To Point Protoccol. The bus allows for up to 4GB/second of memory bandwidth each direction, 8GB effectively. This compares with AGP 8x and its 2.1GB/second memory bandwidth a single direction. The first Intel chipsets supported up to 20 lanes, allowing for up to 5GB/second total bandwidth on the system. NVIDIA decided to release their dual card solution in the form of the nForce4 SLI chipset in late 2004.

ABIT is a Taiwanese based computer component manufacturer that's been around for a long time. Their Fatal1ty boards were designed in cooperation with Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel are popular with the enthusiasts. ABIT has recently come under financial restructuring and merged recently with a company called USI. Today I'm reviewing the newest board in their lineup the ABIT AN8 32X board, based upon NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI x16 chipset.