ATI RD580: Dual x16 Crossfire Preview

It took a very long time for ATI's Rx480/482 chipset to make it from Engineering Samples to motherboards an AMD enthusiast would actually buy. However, enthusiast boards are finally in the marketplace from DFI, and we have ATI Crossfire review samples from Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte that indicate boards from Tier 1 makers are finally on the way.

We think you will be particularly interested in a review that will appear in the next few days of the Asus A8R-MVP. It's a mainstream board with mainstream pricing, but the features and OC capabilities will probably surprise many - and it is also the first production board which uses the ULi M1575 South Bridge with SATA2 and fixed USB. Abit also tells us they will have review samples of their ATI Rx482/ULi M1575 available within the next 2 weeks. Abit blames their launch delays on constrained shipments of the same ULi M1575 south bridge.

All of this is good news for those looking for an alternative chipset in the AMD Athlon64 market. You will finally be able to choose Socket 939 motherboards from major manufacturers, targeted at the AMD enthusiast, and based on the ATI Rx480/482 chipset.

The ATI Story on the X1800XT Delays

We took the opportunity while talking with ATI to ask about the crippling delays of the ATI X1800XT and the X1xxx family. There are so many rumors in the market place; we wanted to hear ATI's explanation of why it took so long for X1800XT to make it to market. Was the problem the 90nm die-shrink as many had speculated?

ATI told us emphatically the delays with X1800XT were NOT the result of the die-shrink to 90nm. We were told the issue was a defect in a third-party IP (Intellectual Property) that was used in the x1800XT GPU die. It took ATI quite a while to find and correct this design flaw. Why does this matter? Since this flaw was specifically related to the X1xxx family, design work continued on future video cards, and there were no delays on that front. Development continued on introductions that will follow R520, which means the R580 GPU is still scheduled for launch in January.

Looking Ahead - RD580 & Manta

Even though ATI RD482 chipset Crossfire boards are just appearing in the market, ATI is already far along in the development of their next chipset, called ATI RD580. We recently had an opportunity to spend two days testing the new RD580 Crossfire motherboard, code-named Manta, and to directly compare the RD580 Dual X16 chipset with the recently reviewed Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe featuring the nVidia Dual x16 chipset. The comparison included both single and dual video card head-to-head testing with 7800GTX SLI (running 81.87 drivers) and X1800XT Crossfire (running Catalyst 5.11).

Because X1800XT Crossfire and The RD580 chipset have not yet officially launched, ATI has asked that we not publish hard benchmarks of our results, since they will likely change in final release versions. We can, however, talk in general terms about performance. Those of you who believe ATI is far behind nVidia are in for a surprise.

ATI RD580
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  • allnighter - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I believe I brought this up several times before and I'll say it again - I am personally bothered with AT's previews of reference boards. Why? Well simply because as far back as I can think it's always the same $hit. A hand tuned, tweaked to hell mobo pitted against the competing products, usually months before they go to retail and are actually available. That makes AT preview a pr piece that pretty much serves as a sales stopper against the competition regardless of which manufacturer is being reviewed. It's simply ridiculous to watch how those previewed boards always outshine the competition and show performance that barely translates into something we'll be able to experience, yet it's heralded as the best thing since sliced bread.
    Although I must give props to Wesley for not including any comparison charts in today's preview 'cause that would really tick me off.
    What ever happened to a good old technology preview? What ever happened to the good old "product taken out of the retail box" review?
    I'm not doubting AT's (in this case Wesley's) credibility or competence but the very fact that the reference board is sent specifically for AT preview makes me doubt the results. Why? Well simply because we've seen that exact scenario numerous times. These boards should be clearly marked as "AT preview edition" rather than anything else.
    So to end this little bitch session let me just say that I'll simply stop reading mobo previews at AT. Unless it clearly states it's a new mobo tech preview or has a brand and product name/code in the title of it - I'm not interested. Thank you.
    Reply
  • allnighter - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I believe I brought this up several times before and I'll say it again - I am personally bothered with AT's previews of reference boards. Why? Well simply because as far back as I can think it's always the same $hit. A hand tuned, tweaked to hell mobo pitted against the competing products, usually months before they go to retail and are actually available. That makes AT preview a pr piece that pretty much serves as a sales stopper against the competition regardless of which manufacturer is being reviewed. It's simply ridiculous to watch how those previewed boards always outshine the competition and show performance that barely translates into something we'll be able to experience, yet it's heralded as the best thing since sliced bread.
    Although I must give props to Wesley for not including any comparison charts in today's preview 'cause that would really tick me off.
    What ever happened to a good old technology preview? What ever happened to the good old "product taken out of the retail box" review?
    I'm not doubting AT's (in this case Wesley's) credibility or competence but the very fact that the reference board is sent specifically for AT preview makes me doubt the results. Why? Well simply because we've seen that exact scenario numerous times. These boards should be clearly marked as "AT preview edition" rather than anything else.
    So to end this little bitch session let me just say that I'll simply stop reading mobo previews at AT. Unless it clearly states it's a new mobo tech preview or has a brand and product name/code in the title of it - I'm not interested. Thank you.
    Reply
  • haelduksf - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I don't get it.

    AT's preview of the Crossfire referance board was right on- performance was matched almost exactly by the DFI CF-DR. I personally would rather have the review as soon as possible, until waiting for the product to ship x units to y stores before even looking at it.

    Reply
  • pyrosity - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    It's good to hear that the R580, at least, is still on track. It's taken ages, but I'm glad that AT got the whole R520 delay thing cleared up. It would be interesting to find out which third party screwed ATI up.

    Personally, I'd be more interested in reading/hearing about the R530, as it should fit into my price range better than the supposed ubercard that R580 will likely be. Still good to get an update on that, though.

    On the motherboard side of things, it's nice to read that the competition is stepping up at last.
    Reply
  • MDme - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    maybe it was MS that screwed things up for ATI since ATI must have used a lot of R&D for the R500 on the 360. remember that the PS3 is only using a 7800GTX at 90nm (presumably with a higher clock) ;p

    i'm glad though that the r580 is "on time" because competition is good.

    Reply
  • michal1980 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    nvidia isn't the king of anything. but this is the pc world, things change and they change fast. crossifre is barely working on last years gpus, and thats just now, a year after nvidia.

    geez u know if i keep waiting for the next round, then i'll have a 10ghz 8 core cpu, with a multi-core gpu, and a multi-core ppu, with a terabyte of ram, and hundreds of tb's of storage...

    all i have to do is wait.
    and wait.
    and wait.
    and wati
    and ati = wait for us.
    don't wait for a company play with the best now, then when the best changes buy that.
    Reply
  • WaltC - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I've been having a ball since January of this year when I bought an AGP x800 xt. Nothing for me to be disappointed about.

    I think some of the comments in this thread are funny...;) I mean, nV sends out some 7800GTX 512 reference cards to review sites--cards that, when available, will cost ~$800, and consist of little more than overvolted, overclocked 7x gpus and ram, requiring a gigantic heatsink--and some people complain that ATi sends out reference boards of its upcoming motherboards to those same websites who preview them.

    Personally, I'm glad to see ATi getting so aggressive in the AMD, enthusiast's mboard markets, and could care less that they don't shove and push their products to market before they are ready. Rome wasn't built in a day, etc.

    I can well understand the angst of people who rushed to market to buy the expensive nV products on the strength of the wrong-headed idea that ATi wasn't interested in competing within this market. If I'd been rash and made the same mistake I'd be pissed, too--but I guess I'd be upset more with myself than with anybody else.

    There's just no substitute for patience, is there? It will be no trouble at all for me to wait until next year to buy a few new things. In the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the more-than-adequate gaming support the x800 xt has given me all year. I have zero complaints with it thus far. In fact, it may well be that I'm not even in a hurry next year to replace my current config.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    quote:

    some people complain that ATi sends out reference boards
    People complain about ATI "releasing" products with no actual product to buy. Nvidia's so-called "reference" board can be bought in stores for $749 on the day they launched it. Quite a bit of difference there bud.
    Reply
  • quasarsky - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    well no difference really.

    i can't afford that lol.

    but my recent computer upgrading I WILL tell you what i can afford :) and bought :-D

    $610 =

    2 250 gig seagate sata 7200.8 harddrives $165
    2x 1 gig of patriot red heatspreader ram 2.5-3-3-8 $175
    ati all in wonder x800xt $275 (255 after rebate :-D)

    and someone bought the 7800gtx 512 mb for $749 (a pun i know cause i spent $610 lol), and then lost their job, and couldn't pay their bills and their world fell apart LOL.

    :0D

    Reply
  • poohbear - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    well said mate, i love competition and really all this 7800 gtx 512mb doesnt do it for me, give me a card in the same performance group as a 6800GS/7800GS cause that's the stuff me and most ppl can afford. Reply

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