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In automotive engineering, an engine is referred to as multi-valve (or multivalve) when each cylinder has more than two valves. Such designs have been around since at least 1912 (Peugeot) and perhaps earlier.

All poppet valve, four-stroke internal combustion engines need at least two valves per cylinder—one for intake of air and fuel, and another for exhaust of combustion products. Adding more valve area improves the flow of intake and exhaust gases, potentially improving combustion efficiency, hence power, and performance. It is not practical to simply use two larger valves, for reasons of simple geometry (two smaller intake valves will fit side-by-side on one side of the combustion chamber, whereas a single one cannot be made much larger) and to keep the mass, and therefore inertia, of individual valves as low as possible. Multi-valve geometry also tends to favour the spark plug being located at the top of the combustion chamber, which can be ideal for even flame propagation during combustion. In addition, particularly as the valve begins to open, for equivalent valve/port areas multi-valve geometry allows for increased airflow. Most use overhead camshafts (SOHC/DOHC). However this is not always the case: Chevrolet recently showed a 3-valve version of its Generation IV V8 which uses pushrods to actuate forked rockers, and Cummins makes a 4-valve pushrod straight-6 diesel, the Cummins B Series (now known as ISB).

Starting in 1922, many Bugatti engines used three...
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