Alienware Video Array Technology Interview

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posted 6/7/2004 by The GN Staff
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At this year’s E3, Alienware introduced their new Video Array technology. The new video technology, which will be built into Alienware’s proprietary X2 motherboards, will provide gamers with an expected 50% increase in gaming performance by utilizing two video cards. John and Charles had an opportunity to talk with Brian Joyce the Director of Marketing for Alienware to talk about the new technology.

GamingNexus: How did the idea for this come along?

Brian Joyce: Several years ago (this is several years in the making). The founders of Alienware are big time gamers (still are), and they realized a little while ago that the latest and greatest games were always hardware limited. They began back then looking for ways to remove that hardware limitation and were sometimes frustrated as consumers being tied to the technical roadmaps of the larger industry players, be it processor, memory, video, etc. So, the concept itself is fairly simple but the execution wasn’t and they decided to invest in the development because of the experience they felt it would bring to the customer.

GamingNexus: How long have you been working on the idea for Video Arrays?

Brian Joyce: We’ve had a dedicated team on it for well over two years.

GamingNexus: Was this something that you couldn’t do with AGP or had you considered doing something with AGP?

Brian Joyce: We actually had a working prototype with AGP. But as soon as it became clear that PCI Express was going to become the industry standard, we had to start re-working it for PCI Express.

GamingNexus: Can you describe how the Video Array system works?

Brian Joyce: In a classic sort of graphics architecture, the game or application speaks to the video card drivers which then tell the video card what to do and then outputs to a monitor. With the video array, we have a layer of Alienware developed software that sits between the application and the video card drivers and parses out instructions to each of the video cards individually and what this allows us to do is to have the top portion of the screen drawn by one video card while the bottom portion is drawn by another. This software keeps everything in sync and actually allows us, on a frame by frame basis, to dynamically load balance each video card so that if one is taking longer to draw it’s portion of the screen than the other then we can adjust the load to each video card and optimize on the fly.
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