Core i7 with 3-way SLI/Quad-Crossfire: X58 compared
Asus Rampage II Extreme [Source: view picture gallery]
For Nehalem there currently is only one chipset: Intel's X58. In contrast to prior chipsets it supports AMD's CrossfireX as well as Nvidia's SLI. In order to utilize the latter technology the motherboards have to be approved by Nvidia. Furthermore board partners can install the NF200-SLI chip on their products, which enables more lanes for the graphics cards.
When using one or two cards, Intel's X58 offers 16 lanes with PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth for each one. If three cards are used, there are only 16 lanes and two times 8 lanes available. Combining the X58 with the NF200-SLI results in three times 16 lanes - like Nvidia's Nforce 790i Ultra SLI. Since we didn't have a X58 board with an NF200-SLI chip available for our tests we had to use a board without the additional chip. The QX9770 on the other hand was running on an Nforce 790i Ultra SLI board and thus 3-way SLI could access a higher bandwidth - an advantage.