"Not words, old man," said Mr. Dark. "Not words in books or words you say but real thoughts, real actions, quick thought, quick action, win the day."
One of the more poignant quotes from Ray Bradbury's classic novel, "Something Wicked This Way Comes", fully explains the reasoning behind Gigabyte's desire to design, implement, and produce technologically innovative products quickly into a market saturated with cookie cutter designs and ideas.

It is this quick thought process along with quick action that has allowed Gigabyte to introduce several innovative products over the past year that include everything from the GA-8I945P dual graphics capable motherboard to the impressive single slot SLI based GV-3D1-68GT video card. While the true commercial success of these currently niche products are open for debate, the desire of the company to introduce these types of products is not.

Today, we will review the features, performance, and wickedly unique capabilities of the Gigabyte GA-8N SLI Quad Royal motherboard.


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This motherboard's primary design feature is quad graphics capability with the ability to drive 10 displays by utilizing two Gigabyte GV-3D1-68GT revision 2 cards, which support up to four displays per card, and then including an additional NVIDIA based PCI Express video card. You can also install four PCI Express video cards and one PCI based video card in order to reach the maximum ten display configuration, but this defeats the purpose of utilizing the latest video card technology in a performance oriented board. The above image was supplied by Gigabyte and is meant to show the 10 monitor capability. We were unable to test 10 monitors due to the lack of the revision 2 Gigabyte GV-3D1-68GT video card.

Of course, there are a myriad of combinations up to the maximum 10 displays that are available with this board. ATI graphic cards are fully supported, although they were not tested for this article. We fully tested several display configurations without an issue utilizing two 6600GT, two 7800GTX, and one Gigabyte GV-3D1-68GT card for the various display combinations that included up to eight displays. In fact, we were able to overclock the system to its maximum fsb limit with two 6600GT and two 7800GTX cards installed on the board.

How is all of this possible? The basic design feature stems from NVIDIA's decision to utilize a HyperTransport system to link the north and south bridge components of the nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset. Gigabyte took this basic layout and engineered a solution to allow the removal of the Intel Edition south bridge (MCP) and insertion of the nForce 4 SLI chipset from their AMD product line. The AMD nForce 4 SLI component is a single-chip design that includes the core logic, networking, USB, and storage option functionality. By utilizing the latest core logic revisions of the nForce 4 SLI Intel (C19) and AMD (CK804) chipsets, this allowed Gigabyte to produce a fully featured board with four x8 PCI Express slots with the option to use two of these slots in full x16 mode. In this configuration, the other two x16 slots will behave as x1 capable slots. Each of the slots can be utilized by various PCI Express peripherals other than video cards.

The ability to have two x16 slots for video operation and the availability of the Gigabyte GV-3D1-68GT single slot SLI video card begs the question if this board is capable of Quad GPU SLI operation. The revision 2 GV-3D1-68GT video cards have the necessary SLI connectors and the GA-8N board has been designed for this purpose. However, Gigabyte's forward-thinking on this subject matter is tempered or more than likely dosed with a bucket of cold water by NVIDIA's current decision not to support quad GPU operations in their drivers. However, I have to commend Gigabyte's current design and thought process on single slot SLI capability, as the eventual migration to quad based SLI capable systems is inevitable just as multiple core designs are now taking over in the processor arena.

Let's see what else this board is capable of now and if it can win the day.

Basic Features: Gigabyte GA-8N SLI Quad Royal
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  • slain - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    WTF?? Man who cares about gaming? As if it matters that u have 10 displays for a game?? This has to be designed to be perfectly suited to multichannel VIZ and Sim, a graphics cluster killer before clusters even took off, AKA where SGI and E&S have played for ever. This could be the final nail in the coffin.... my heart bleeds ;) think about it 4 genlocked quadro’s for 8 edge blended quad buffered channels, this is the sort of thing you drive planetariums and VR centres with *NOT* games.

    Where can I get one ?
    Reply
  • hoppa - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    "10 displays should be enough for anyone"
    ~Bill Gates
    Reply
  • vailr - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    No mention of an (Athlon CK804) driver for the South bridge: http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2561&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2561&am...
    Only for the North bridge:
    "System Platform Drivers: NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition 7.13"
    Also: was the automated driver installer used, or was a manual "Device Manager driver" install routine required? Due to the mix of the Intel N. bridge and an AMD S. bridge?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    Actually, only the Intel driver set is required. I will post a more detailed response later today. We used the automated installation program and you will find the Intel MCP is just a subset of the AMD CK804. I have actually used the Intel IDE drivers on my Nforce 4 board as an example. Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    one 2405FPW and two 1704FPV's.

    and the answer is..................
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    Email me and I will setup a test configuration for you as I will have that same monitor delivered next week. Reply
  • Powered by AMD - Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - link

    I couldnt find the link in order to download the BF2 AT demo, so I can benchmark myself.
    Anyone found it?

    Nice review, BTW, Hope Nvidia support this board in future drivers just to see 4 Video Cards Benches.
    BTW, I wouldnt buy this board, it isnt available for the best Gaming Processor.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    It's still "beta" from my perspective, and it hasn't been published. My next article with benchmarks will hopefully include the demo and other required files for running the BF2 benchmark, but just FYI, it isn't meant for non-technical types. You'll have to edit a batch file, and it doesn't automatically set BF2 settings (other than resolution) - it just runs with whatever settings BF2 is currently using. Stay tuned.... Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    Good stuff on adding to the range of games used for benchmarking, and a most excellent choice in BF2 as AT reviews have been lacking in benchmarks using FPS games lately. Adding a seventh FPS title when there are none from any other genre (except Aquamark 3 which is dubious at best as a representative sim) was a great idea as FPS games are all anyone plays at AT. If the recently released Serious Sam 2 is as fun as the two episodes of the original Serious Sam, it might be worth adding that too.

    But seriously, whilst taking the time to add BF2 to the benchmark suite is probably a good idea as it is very popular, you really should consider games other than what you like-- such as racing, flight/space-sims, above-view RPG, RTS, etc. It's no wonder the benchmarks are all so predictable with the main difference between gfx-cards being OpenGL and Direct3D games, when all the games are basically displaying the same kind of scenes.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    I actually ran benchmarks on Nascar SimRacing (Daytona on four monitors is incredible), LOMAC, Falcon 4- Allied Force, GTR, and Call of Duty 2. We firmly believe the standard benchmarks need some additions to represent the overall gaming experience. You will see some of these results (plus a couple of RTS/RPG) shortly in the next "SLI x16" review. As noted in our sound test we will greatly expand the information provided for on-board solutions shortly to also include the new Dolby Master Studio suites shipping with the SigmaTel 922x and Realtek 882m audio options. Once this board is released for production we will do a complete follow-up that will concentrate on multiple-monitor usage. Reply

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