Just a few days before Christmas, Gigabyte surprised the graphics card enthusiast community with its top secret project, the 3D1. The 3D1 graphics card is a dual-core SLI solution, using two NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT chips working in tandem. Simply put, Gigabyte has taken two chips working in SLI mode and put them on a single card.
With the 3D1, Gigabyte has put a full SLI system on only a single card. When using the 3D1, the bandwidth of the first x16 PCIe slot is reduced to two times x8 – the slot’s PCIe lanes are simple divided between the two chips on the card. For this to work, the BIOS of the SLI-capable motherboard also explicitly needs to support this mode of operation. Currently, the special mode used by the 3D1 only works with the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI motherboard, which is based on NVIDIA’s nForce 4 chipset. In any other motherboard, the card will act like a single x8 PCIe GeForce 6600 GT card. Whether Gigabyte will also create other motherboards compatible with the 3D1 remains to be seen, and the same goes for support from other companies. Since the card is only available bundled with the very motherboard that supports it, the question of whether this limitation is a drawback is moot. And, in case you were wondering – no, a dual 3D1 setup will not work.
…Without a doubt, Gigabyte has created a fascinating piece of hardware with the 3D1. The concept of creating an SLI setup on a single card deserves the highest respect.. ..Going only by the numbers, we see that the 3D1 definitely has its pros and cons. Bundled with the motherboard, the card will be slightly cheaper than a comparable GeForce 6600 GT SLI setup, while offering better performance. Also, it will be much less expensive than a single 6800 GT or Ultra card.
…Considering the history of failed attempts at bringing dual-core graphics cards to the market, Gigabyte’s 3D1 will probably have some difficulties establishing itself in the marketplace – especially since the card does have some technological limitations. Of course Gigabyte is well aware of this and plans to offer the card – bundled with the K8NXP-SLI motherboard – as a limited edition only.
In the end, the 3D1 showcases Gigabyte’s technological expertise and its willingness to innovate. Perhaps the card can be compared to the design prototypes with which car makers try to impress their potential customers at automobile shows. Whatever the case may be, we’re definitely hoping to see more of this kind of thing.
Tom’s Hardware Guide
Gigabyte’s 3D1: Are Two Engines Better Than One?
Published in: Graphics Cards on 2005-01-12