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Nvidia's SLI.


Nvidia's SLI.

Nvidia came up with a technology where two PCI-Express graphics cards
share the workload, and supposedly can be up to twice as fast as using
one graphics card. My thinking behind this is trying to buy two cheap
cards and get the same type of performance as an expensive one. Has
anyone tried this with Pro/E? If so, what’s your experience?

Thanks in advance.

Kind Regards,

Nader R. Rizk
DCD Technologies, Inc.
17920 South Waterloo Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44119
Tel. (216) 481-0056
Fax. (216) 481-0086


Although I have not tried it, I, too, have wondered about using the
SLI-based motherboards to build a Pro/E workstation. Some things to consider
/ why I haven't yet done this:

* Few (if any) of the "gaming" video cards typically used with SLI
systems appear on the PTC supported hardware list. If a code change in a new
build causes issues with the graphics, you are on your own
* Very few resellers offer SLI-based machines. Building machines
in-house is not practical for the numbers we have and this would eliminate
the possibility of vendor-supported, on-site maintenance
* The few SLI-machines offered by vendors (again, likely not on the
"supported hardware" list) are generally more expensive than
workstation-class machines since they are geared toward hard-core gamers

On a related note, I have wondered why PTC doesn't work to (officially)
support the high-end gaming cards. These cards generally have awesome
performance at a price that is half of a workstation graphics card. I am not
a graphics expert, so I wonder what the true difference is between a $600
nVidia gaming card and a $1,500 nVidia Quadro card.

Mark Nelson

Senior Network Architect

Remy International

2902 Enterprise Drive

Anderson, Indiana 46013

5-Regular Member

I have been wondering about this SLI technology myself. According to NVIDIA the Quadro cards qualify. They mention HP and Sun.

I don't see SLI in a Dell workstation, however I finally see one of their adds with Pro/E on the screen. They do list the gaming XPS 600 with SLI (Precision 670 with chrome). It sounds like they need to get moving with this. Are the motherboards different from an XPS 600 to a Precision 670? Can you buy and XPS and throw 2 Quadro cards in it? <http:" content=" products=" productdetails.aspx=" xpsdt_600?c="us&amp;cs=19&amp;l=en&amp;s=dhs"> &cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

Dave Engel
MFS / J. F. Taylor, Inc.
Aircraft Simulation Division
98912 Switzer Road, Bldg. 2191
Patuxent River, MD 20670-1907

The differences between gaming cards and CAD cards are actually not
much. The primary difference comes in the drivers, and that's where the
cost is incurred. Most games are DirectX-driven games, meaning that
they use Microsoft's DirectX graphics library to render the various
geometry, textures, and so on. However, all of your high-end CAD
packages use the OpenGL graphics library, originally developed by SGI.
The drivers that you install on your OS to interface with the hardware
enable all of the graphics library acceleration. Since there is a
(much) smaller market for OpenGL applications, the cost to develop the
OpenGL drivers is split across this smaller market segment--Econ 101
supply and demand stuff.

With that being said, the current offerings from nVidia are a mix of
chipsets, both young and old. For instance, your high-range Quadro FX
4000 uses the same chipset (NV40) as the GeForce 6800 (AGP). You can
actually save a lot of money by doing a "softmod" on a 6800 to make it
believe that it's a 4000 (as discussed here a few months ago, otherwise
Google it)--you can't SLI-bridge AGP cards, though. The Quadro FX 4500
uses the same core (G70) as the GeForce 7800 series--I'm not sure about
a softmod, but the 7800 will cost you about 1/4 the cost of the 4500,
and you can do an SLI setup.

If you're not into building your own rigs like I am, you'll have to
search for a few of the more creative manufacturers out there.
Companies like Alienware <http:"/> , Xi
<http:"/> , Hypersonic <http:">
, and others can custom configure you machines with SLI set-ups, but you
will have to shell out some cash since you're buying two Quadro cards.
Teamed up with a nice Athlon XP X2 or Opteron dual-core chip, and you'll
be happy for a few years at least.

Learn more:

In the end, in order for PTC to support high-end gaming cards, they
would have to implement the DirectX graphics library. I'd prefer that
they just make it so that my mapkey to show my planes layer doesn't kick
me out of Pro/E every sixth or seventh time I use it, which is
dependent, of course, upon the position of the moon inside of Jupiter.

Caleb Coburn
Mechanical Engineer
Roche Diagnostics


I am curious what you are doing in Pro/e that you think you need SLI? Are
you trying to do complicated rendered animations?

SLI linking cards together is usually for boosting frame rate performance at
high resolution (1600X1200 minimum) with high level anti-aliasing. And with
the high end cards, the performance of a single card for a particular gaming
benchmark might be 50 frames a second, SLI linking two cards might bring
that up to 80-90 frames a second. I think it is hard to see the difference
of anything higher than 30 frames a second.

Usually frame rate speeds aren't a performance arena for Pro/e. SLI works
in a couple different modes. One mode called "alternate frame", has one
card generate the entire image for one frame, and then the next frame is
generated by the second card, and so on. The other mode is called "split
frame". This is where each card generates half of each frame. Also, in
nomal modeling mode, we don't use a lot of painted on texture maps or bump
maps. Single color shaded models are very simple for the card to deal with.

Paul Bock

CAD System Administrator

Avox Systems