With this morning's announcement from Asus and its EN9800GX2 graphics card, we get the first glimpse of what Nvidia's GeForce 7950GX2 should have been. That card, if you'll recall from the summer of 2006, was the first SLI-on-a-single-card design from Nvidia. Effectively, it put two 3D chips on a single two-slot card. What that means is you didn't need a specialized, SLI-compatible motherboard to enjoy superfast game performance, because all of the necessary circuitry was built into the card.
The problem with the GeForce 7950 GX2 was that it was expensive, and it hit the market about five months before the first DirectX 10 cards came out. With the next-generation cards so close behind, it was hard to justify spending a lot of money of a old-generation card. Asus EN9800GX2 (and similar cards from other Nvidia board partners) fixes that generation gap. At $600 it's still expensive, but the pair of GeForce 9800 graphics chips built into it are fully DirectX 10 compatible.
Of course, DirectX 10 compatibility doesn't necessarily guarantee fast performance. Our review of this card is almost complete, look for it later today. For the most part it met our expectations, but without giving everything away, we'll just say that it looks as if Crysis will remain the benchmark for challenging PC graphics for a very long time.