Print 70 comment(s) - last by Trisped.. on Jun 8 at 12:52 PM

ATI's announces the latest perk of CrossFire

Two's company, three's a crowd -- that is a saying around these parts. ATI is looking to make "three" the magic number when it comes to physics on desktop PCs. ATI today announced at Computex an asymmetric CrossFire configuration that allows gamers to pair two graphics cards in a traditional CrossFire mult-GPU setup with a third graphics card dedicated solely to handling physics. This would also explain why ATI has been winking and nodding for manufacturers to include three physical 16x slots on their new motherboards according to our well-placed sources.

This opens up a whole new level of possibilities when it comes not only to physics in current and future games, but also has the potential to shape how a gamer chooses to upgrade his or her rig. Take for example a gamer that is using a single Radeon X1600 Pro graphics card right now and decides that they want to kick it up few notches and go with dual Radeon X1900 class graphics cards in CrossFire mode for maximum performance. Instead of simply tossing the Radeon X1600 Pro aside to collect dust in a corner somewhere or selling it for much less than you paid for it, you can now (if you motherboard supports it) use that “odd man out” to do some actual work.

ATI is of course thrilled with the possibilities that this opens up for gamers (along with the possibility of gamers going out to buy yet another ATI-based graphics card) and is throwing more resources into its CrossFire certification program. This latest move in CrossFire physics is an intriguing solution and one that could be quite a bit cheaper than a dedicated physics solution for gamers who already are packing dual ATI graphics cards. Here's a statement from ATI's press release:

"The addition of physics to the CrossFire platform, and the continuing evolution of CrossFire is based directly on the feedback of hardcore gamers - CrossFire is not ATI's platform, it's gamers' platform," said Godfrey Cheng, Director of Marketing, Platform Technologies, ATI Technologies Inc., responsible for ATI's CrossFire strategy. "Asymmetrical physics support, broader certification, and untouchable overclockability are a direct result of gamers' input. CrossFire will continue to evolve to be more open, flexible and easy to use without sacrificing performance, and it starts with boundless gaming."

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MM .. Interesting
By tuteja1986 on 6/6/2006 8:09:51 AM , Rating: 3
Now , I hope Nvidia does kind of the same so the developers would support it.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By phatboye on 6/6/2006 8:25:23 AM , Rating: 2
With 2 PCI-e slots used for Crossfire/SLI and one slot used for a PPU there will not be much room left for expanding most atx motherboards. I think there needs to be a new standard that addresses this growing problem.

But Yes I must agree with the previous poster, this application of ATI's GPUs into a PPU is an excelent idea. I hope that NV does something similar with its GPUs so that developers would support such configurations.

With ATI throwing their hat into the PPU segment AGEIA better step up it's game because ATI will crush AGEIA if they don't. It's always good to see competition and but I can't help but worry about the little guy (AGEIA) being able to keep pace with a well known, well established company such as ATI.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By phatboye on 6/6/2006 9:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah I also forgot about the problem of how much power the PSU will have to supply in order to keep such a beast running. Both ATI and NV is going to have to start to make there GPUs run more efficiently with respect to how electrical usage.

If Intel, of all companies, can make energy efficient processors than anyone can do it :o

RE: MM .. Interesting
By BigLan on 6/6/2006 2:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, 2x dual-slot video cards + Sound Card is already 5 slots filled. Toss in another video card (If the manufacturer gets the slot positions right) and you're pretty much full.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By ET on 6/6/2006 11:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
NVIDIA supported it first. At GDC, HavokFX was shown on NVIDIA hardware. (Maybe even at the NVIDIA booth, I don't really remember.) They said then that it'd run on ATI, too, but now I guess it's officially supported by both ATI and NVIDIA.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By Trisped on 6/6/2006 4:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
HavokFX can run on pretty much any video card that supports shader 2.0

ATI's solution is a bit different, building the ability strait into the card. The result is a possibly faster system, as the cards can be optimized to talk to each other across the PCIe bus. ATI also supported a system where down time on the video card could be used to do physics. If that were true I wonder if you could do the same thing here, just using 3 cards with one dedicated to physics, one to graphics, and one to do both as needed.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By ET on 6/7/2006 6:48:31 AM , Rating: 2
Where have you seen ATI mentioning its own solution? The press release talked purely of HavokFX.

RE: MM .. Interesting
By Trisped on 6/7/2006 12:37:02 PM , Rating: 2

As an ATI fan I can understand it is hard to keep track of the competition. As noted in the NVIDIA press release, their physics engine requires an SLI set up, with one card devoted to physics and the other to graphics.

If you read the above articles it talks about ATI's plan to allow single and crossfire solutions that do both graphics and physics at the same time. ATI explains that the GPU can do this during down time, and if you saw the chart from the SM 3.0 article it is easy to see that there is a reasonable amount of free GPU time while rendering a frame.

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