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Dual GPUs etc


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I figured I'd start a thread about how I can boost performance with hardware (not too into overclocking, unless you can convince me it's worth it). So, to start I want to know if there is a way to hook two video cards up to synchronize or something. I read gunwounds talking about it, so I was intrigued. Do they need a special cable? Do they need to be special cards? I have an ATI radeon 9600xt, and while it does the work, it could be better. I could also use a lot more RAM (512 currently).

I also want to ask about RAID arrays. If I have a Sata-ready harddrive, all I have to do is get another harddrive and some special cable to synchronize them? My motherboard supports RAID, if that helps.

I can't think of any other way to boost performance with hardware without buying too much. If you have any suggestions feel free to suggest them :-)

Thanks!

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Two systems for graphics cards, one by nVidia, one by ATI.

nVidia has SLI (Scalable Line Interface) whic has a small connector which connects the two cards (although Guns mentioned some software to do the same)

ATI has CrossFire, about which I know even less. Its similar in that it allows you to get more performance by adding a card. I heard someone mention it had advantages over nVidia, but havent looked into it.

As for RAID, its likely you already have all you need in your modern mobo to support it. There are different types, and most mobos only support a few of them. Mirroring and striping are the two I know a bit about. Mirroring mirrors drives, giving you a running copy, so both (you can have more then 2!) drives are identical, should anything happen to one, you have the other. Striping is for speed, so for every file, the load is spread accross two HDs, double the heads, and double the capacity of one.

Striping is good for writing, but not reading. Or is it other way round ? I get confuscioused.

I have tried RAID strpiing, and when I had problems with OS, I had issues trying to get the RAID controller (the hardware already built in to my mobo which takes care of RAID for me) recognised by BIOS, so couldnt reinstall windows or repair. I lost a lot of info and removed RAID. I probably didnt look after it right, but I have since decided its not worth hassle.

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Depends on your mobo. each card producer, nVidia and ATI, produce their own chipsets and your mobo needs to have either SLI or Crossfire capability. So either your mobo dictates what type you can go for, or you buy with that in mind, so aim for either a crossfire or SLI mobo.

I got a nVidia SLI mobo and one nVidia 6600GT, so I could double up and get another 6600GT. Note both mobo and graphics card must be able to use the technology.

The connector came with my mobo, which I reckon is normal  :D.

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Yes, for nVidia's SLI motherboards, the connector comes with the MB.  All you need is two *identical* cards (eg, two eVGA 128MB GeForce 6600GTs) and that connector.

The ATi equivalent, Crossfire, requires at least one Crossfire Master card, though the other can merely a be a "Crossfire Ready" card of the same type.  There is no physical connector required.

The key is that both GPUs must be the same (same clock speeds, same memory amount and bus type, and same architecture).

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The key is that both GPUs must be the same (same clock speeds, same memory amount and bus type, and same architecture).

THG, or was it anandtech, found that having one card slightly faster then the other, perhaps from another company, also sped up the other card, overclocking it.

Nice little freebie they said.

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