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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By Cincybeck on 6/6/2006 9:05:18 AM , Rating: 1
I honestly think a dedicated PPU, designed for advanced physic calculations is a better solution. From what I've read GPU's won't be able to do the more advanced processing down the road when physics effect the game play. Right now they're only being used to process visual effects that don't affect the game play in a fundamental way. I'm just worried if the solutions from ATi and Nvidia take hold, it will hinder the advancement of realism down the road.

Not to mention the absurd amount of power it would take to power another GPU...

RE: Impractical
By bamacre on 6/6/2006 12:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. And I don't understand why physics can't be done with the processor via means of a second core. Upcoming games, like Crysis, should be multi-threaded. That should be plenty of cpu power to handle the physics as well as everything else.

RE: Impractical
By Scabies on 6/6/2006 1:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
That would make sense, not that we're all into logic these days..
But currently all we have dual cores doing is one manages background crap like virusscan and the kernel, and the other manages active processes. Why not task a core with physics? (save a PCIx slot and considerable power, and ups the CPU efficiency [less clocks go to waste])

RE: Impractical
By rrsurfer1 on 6/6/2006 4:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
Physics cores are *supposed* to feature specialized architecture to perform physics calculation much more efficiently (much in the same way that graphics cores are more suitable for graphical calculations).

However, that said, bandwidth and delays propagated through the bus certainly hurt physics performance, as illustrated by the PhysX's "stutter" issue when doing heavy physics.

I think some real promise lies in cache coherency with the CPU as AMD is persuing.

RE: Impractical
By Trisped on 6/6/2006 4:25:08 PM , Rating: 1
The problem is that the CPU is designed to do a wide range of tasks, though only 1-2 things at the same time (excluding pipe lines). A GPU and physics co processor are designed to do a large number of simple tasks simultaneously. An analogy would be a man named CPU has a PDA cell phone. He can use the phone to call, keep track of appointments, listen to music, and everything else a mobile warrior would need. Another man, Physics, has a cell phone, mp3 player, and PDA. He can do everything the man with the PDA phone can do, but he can do it all at the same time.

Physics is really a bunch of small, simple calculations. The calculations need to be done quickly, so the depended equations have the information that they need. Physics are also stupidly threadable (like graphics) which means many cores in one unit will be put to good use. CPUs are not designed for this.

Additional reading would include pipe lines, threading, and CPU/GPU structure.

RE: Impractical
By Trisped on 6/7/2006 12:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
Upcoming GPUs will be able to take shader results and send them back to the CPU, which will fix the game play dependencies. This may even be a side effect of SM 3.0 where shaders can write the results back to GPU memory.

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