Introduction

The Multi-GPU market is a very important one to a number of companies, yet it is presently only dominated by one: NVIDIA.

We have to hand it to NVIDIA, even though they had some problems with SLI early on, they managed to turn a slightly bumpy start into complete dominance of the Multi-GPU market in a year's time. And NVIDIA couldn't be happier; the incredible attraction to SLI, either from an upgrader's perspective or from the desire to have the absolute best in performance means that NVIDIA gets to sell one of their most expensive chipsets, and a potential of two GPUs to each customer. Three chips from one company in a single system? Only Intel had been able to accomplish such a feat in the past.

But what about ATI and their fabled CrossFire solution? Historically ATI hadn't done well at all at getting any sort of end user penetration with their chipsets, but they finally got somewhere with their latest CrossFire chipsets. What's even more amazing is that it wasn't the support for CrossFire that sold the motherboards either, it was the excellent overclocking features and end-user centric nature of the reference platform. CrossFire too might have been a success, had ATI done more copying of NVIDIA rather than taking a different approach this time around.

While the performance of the CrossFire X850 XT was respectable, the total package didn't make any sense. What we wanted was an ATI version of NVIDIA's SLI platform, instead we got a mess of master cards you couldn't buy and dongles that gave us more problems during testing than even the earliest SLI testing we did. And to make matters worse: there was a not-so-nice resolution limitation of 1600 x 1200, which is fine for mid-range offerings, but for a pair of Radeon X850 XTs running in parallel, you really need to be at higher resolutions to truly get the benefit of (at the time) $1000 worth of graphics cards. Even if you didn't heed our warnings, ignored the fact that NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX was a better buy and still wanted a pair of X850 XTs on a CrossFire motherboard - you couldn't: the required master card wasn't available.

You know what they say, if at first you don't succeed... So we're back here today with the CrossFire solution that should have been: the ATI Radeon X1800 CrossFire Edition. The dongle is still there, as is the master card, but the resolution limit isn't and ATI's finally using a GPU that is a worthy competitor to the 7800 GTX. This time around, ATI has a chance and now, more than ever, do they need it.

The success of CrossFire means much more than whether or not ATI ends up at the top of some silly graphs; it will determine whether or not ATI has a chance at stealing away some of NVIDIA's very profitable Multi-GPU business. And believe it or not, CrossFire's success is very important to Intel. Intel's soon to be launched 975X platform will ship with full CrossFire support, but NVIDIA hasn't blessed it with SLI support, so Intel's only chance to be taken seriously as a high end gaming platform is with ATI's assistance.

A successful CrossFire could mean that Intel would have added leverage against NVIDIA, maybe even pressuring them into bringing SLI support to Intel's chipsets, as they would no longer have the exclusive on viable Multi-GPU. With both ATI and Intel very interested in the success of the launch, we're curious to see how it turns out. And we're sure you are too.

ATI: The A is for Availability?
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  • Vol2005 - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    Dunno what about 512gtx-Sli, but single one is http://www.pcpop.com/doc/0/121/121711_5.shtml">no more "the best of the best" since "eax 1800xt top" beat it in most d3d benchies. ( not to mention it's price some $20-50 more than standard xt)
    Reply
  • Fenixgoon - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    D3D benches are different than real world performance - and for just about everything (if not everything, correct me if i'm wrong), the GTX 512 blows away the GTX 256 and x1800XT. The x1800 XTPE, or whatever's next in line, is *supposed* to compete with the GTX512. Almost seems like nvidia caught ati flat footed on this one. Reply
  • Vol2005 - Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - link

    sorry, maybe i was a bit unclear
    but the thing is that asus x1800xt-top IS x1800xtpe, indeed. And as you've just said the real competitor to gtx512 according to article that i refered.
    As to real world perfomance, it's still uclear to me what do you mean.
    Maybe i'm wrong, but aren't the majority of the modern games using d3d? Even if not so, i think these results are fairly enough prove that the gtx is no longer the fastest.
    Of course, this has to be proven further by other reviewers
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    You should've bought it when it was released. It was available then. Nothing mystical here. Reply
  • Leper Messiah - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    6 frame per second increase in 1920x1440? eh? Reply
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    Come on! There are over 100 people in EVGA's step-up queue waiting for the 7800GTX 512MB, but you have a problem with ATI's availability?!

    Nvidia got LUCKY with the 256MB 7800GTX that it was ready to launch with no real competition. Nvidia was able to sit on it until sufficient quantity were ready. ATI (sort of) launches the X1800XT and Nvidia falls back to the same old launch tricks. If you're going to hold one company accountable, you have to hold them all accountable!
    Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    quote:

    If you're going to hold one company accountable, you have to hold them all accountable!
    LOL! That's some retarded logic you got there pal.
    Reply
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    So you're saying Nvidia's should not be held accountable for supply issues, but ATI should be held accountable? Please tell me you were being sarcastic. Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    I'm saying it's retarded because when Nvidia released their cards, you could buy them that day. Unlike ATI that even SAYS it will be different this time around and STILL fails to deliver. If neither companies produce enough to meet demand then they underestimated demand and that's something different entirely. Reply
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    So ATI could have shipped about five cards to the top 10 retailers, and ATI would have completely fulfilled your expectations. They just would have "underestimated demand".
    That's a huge load of crap you're shovelling there. Both companies are still more interested in appearing to be in a leadership position than they are actually ensuring they are making deliverable products. I just can't understand why so many "journalists" have their heads shoved so far up Nvidia's ass they can count their fillings.
    Reply

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