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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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ATI... focus on core competence please.
By lemonadesoda on 6/6/2006 12:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
ATI does not need to create a dual GPU card. The whole concept of their memory/bus "ring" is that they can just add more shader/vertex units to the ring. The ATI core is designed to scale.

Crossfire is just an elastic band between two physical slots and two "rings". Its an interim solution, if not a copy-cat reaction to the press nVidia got with their SLi concept.

In fact, from what we understand, ATi had the technology a long time but saw no viable commercial application for it, since it was always more efficient to just produce the "next gen" GPU, i.e. 9500 over 8500, 9700 over 9500. x800 over 9800. x1800 over x800 etc. Each of these generational steps has been MORE EFFECTIVE than just doubling the previous GPU power via Crossfire/SLi methods.

Far more efficient, elegant, and cheaper to produce with the benefit of lower power consumption is to add more processing units, and each unit more efficient. This would however require increased die size.

No need for crossfire. No need for dual PCIex16. No need to duplicate the GDR3 memory on each card (where in practice, the same, data/textures are sotred on both cards at the same time). No need for the complex and expensive mainboards. No need for large cases with multiple slots. No need for gigawatt PSUs. No need for airconditioning systems. No need for ear-plugs.

Just one nice big 64 vertex/shader processor unit GPU. Then 96. Then 128.

ATI should focus on developing this silicon, then focus on reducing volt/power requirements.


Why are they wasting so much time, money and editorial resource doing this silly 3 GPU business? Is it smoke and mirrors? Just to grab some headlines. Free advertising. REALLY worried about AGEIA? Or what AGEIA might achieve in thier v2.0?

By Trisped on 6/7/2006 1:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
They are doing it so they can stay one step ahead of NVIDIA, which is why both companies do anything innovative.

There is also the PCIe advantage being created. For a long time the only PCIe cards have been graphics cards. Part of this is because most boards only have slots available for graphics, with the extras covered over by the HSF of the GPU card. This way you are guarantied 1 extra slot will be open, there buy encouraging manufactures to produce for hardware for PCIe instead of just PCI. Besides, isn't the goal to have 6-7 PCIe 16x slots?

By Trisped on 6/7/2006 1:56:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think the idea is coloser to "I own an x1800 that I bought right when it came out. I plan on owning the top of the line R600. Rather then sell my x1800 it would be nice to use it as a physics processor."

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