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IDF August 2005 :: HEXUS.beans :: ATi CrossFire for Intel processor platforms…

by David Ross on 22 August 2005, 00:00

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HEXUS.beans :: ATi CrossFire for Intel processor platforms…

IDF LogoMy name is Fanny Deeplung and this is my first news post for HEXUS.net.

Many of you already know my husband - Willy Deeplung - one of HEXUS’ groving reporters, and the prime plucker of HEXUS.beans.

As Willy’s out and about plucking elsewhere, he’s asked me to root out and share with you some of the beans sprouting from San Francisco.

HEXUS.beans :: ATi CrossFire for Intel processor platforms…

No doubt about it, in the race to deliver a dual GPU PCIe graphics solution to the market, NVIDIA not only convincingly beat ATi Technologies out of the stable door, but some might think that, since the launch of its SLi in November last year, its kicked the stable door shut .

However details have emerged that part of the reason for the delays in ATi bringing its competitor to NVIDIA’s SLi to market, is that its been trying to ensure that the products it does release are significantly more flexible, and thus have a broader commercial appeal, than NVIDIAs.

Indeed it’s claimed that as far back as December 2004, ATi Technologies in Santa Clara had a functioning dual-graphics card solution, then called ATi MVP (Multi Visual Processing), running on Intel processor platforms.

And apparently, in April of this year, ATi Technologies had already spun out another generation of its dual-graphics card solution, which we now know as ATi CrossFire.

At that time, some development systems utilised two of its zippy RADEON X850XT (R480) graphics cards, running on a mainboard based on Intel’s ‘Tumwater’ core logic with an Intel processor clocked at 3.6GHz.

This Intel Xeon processor based ATi CrossFire system is said to have been nudging around 7,500 marks in FutureMark’s 3DMark05.

In comparison, a single ATi RADEON X850XT on the same Intel ‘Tumwater’ system scored around 6000 marks.

It seems that if an ATi X850 XT CrossFire configuration was not showing a stellar increase in the same system over a single X850 XT, the performance of this engineering test rig was at least looking promising.

Especially, ATi seemed to think, as dual NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT SLi in the same Intel ‘Tumwater’ system, was said to be scoring around a similar 6000 marks as the single ATi RADEON X850XT.

So it seems possible that ATi have had CrossFire successfully running on platforms with Intel core logic, somewhat before it finished full CrossFire validation of its own RD480 chipset.

This seems to support our intelligence that the CrossFire solution which ATi looks to be bringing to the market for AMD processors using its RD480 chpset, will also be matched with the release of a CrossFire for Intel processors later this week.

Even as we were unearthing all of this, the beans kept sprouting… the latest we’ve got is that ATi CrossFire for Intel chipsets and processors won’t just be available on the high-end ‘Tumwater’ chipset for Intel Xeon processors, but that more importantly, mainboards based on Intel 955X core logic and garden variety Intel Pentium 4 processors are also set to be a supported Crossfire configuration.

Whilst ATi CrossFire on any Intel chipset is not believed to deliver the same outright performance as a mainboard based on an ATi chipset (like its forthcoming RD480) it does seem that ATi CrossFire is a rather more flexible solution that NVIDIA SLi.

Consequently while ATi has been late to the multi-VPU party, we can see the potential for it to be a bigger seller due to its broader compatibility. And that’s even without the greater support for more 3D games that ATi claims that CrossFire will have over NVIDIA SLi.

Furthermore, whilst ATi CrossFire seems to be shipping later than anticipated - we believe that it will convincingly come into its own with the launch of ATi’s forthcoming Pixel Shader Model 3.0 part, in the form of its R520 GPU.

This is Fanny closing up for now - but check back for more spice and spills from me.

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