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.



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  • yacoub - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link


    We then ran all the same tests in single video mode, comparing a single X1800XT on the ATI RD480 to a single 7800GTX on the Asus A8N32-SLI. ... Once again the ATI X1800XT on the RD580 was the winner in every benchmark.

    Which chipset is it?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Corrected. Unfortunately, spellchecks don't catch a misplaced 4. The tested ATI chipset is the RD580. Reply
  • tajoh111 - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Its terrible how anandtech looked like they were paid almost by ATI to do this article. They took known facts and known rumours and molded them to that would best suit ATI. This was done in a almost fanboyish manner in this regard.

    They changed and modified price details, to best suit ati's interest. We all know that ATI 1800xt's are 600 dollars, but we also know that 7800gtx 256 for the most part beside the most expensive overclocked versions are 450 dollars not the 499 that anandtech suggested.

    Yes the prices of the gtx 512's are 700 dollars, but the suggested retail is 650. Note we get these 512 gtx cards for 640 USA in canada.

    So basically anandtech took the manufacture suggested prices and the street prices and painted an inaccurate and favourable picture for Ati.

    They also did this for the competition part. Ati also said that they released the cards to compete with the 256mg 7800 gtx, how is it supposed to be compared to this when it is 150 dollars more expensive than the competition, and is 5 months newer in the technology cycle. On the other hand the GTX 512 was released in week of each other, with a suggested retail price difference of 50 dollars. Not to mention warrenty.

    Nvidia also released this card to do battle with the 1800 xt, not the phantom 1800xt PE which is not availible. SO why is anandtech believeing ATI in this manner. Is it because ATI has made it clear... blah blah, we are going to release this PE product that not availible and we all know will be in lottery rare quantities.

    I don't believe any of this competition stuff that anandtech suggest as good for the industry when ATi's showing this year has been poor. They should be punished and forced like a dog to earn the publics trust in there company.

    Anything below the 1800 series is still unavailible, the 1800 xl is still more expensive then the Gt and arguably a worse performer, and the Current 1800 xt flagship product is slower than nvidias. THe worst crime I find still those is the 1 year warrenty offered from ati. I find this unforgivable. This makes any ati product a poor purchase. The consumer has a right to be treated with respect not just superior products.

    ATI should be gouged this year until they produce competitive products and restore their warrenty from 3 years or to match much on the nvidias card lifetime. If they are not punished and swayed from this inferiority, they will become an abomination of a company.
  • nVestor - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Sadly, I agree with most of what you have mentioned. How can ATi/AnandTech begin to sell me on RD580/Crossfire X1800XT when I haven't been sold on Rx480/482/Crossfire X1800XT yet?

    Then to find this RD580/Crossfire X1800XT was compared to the 7800GTX 256MB SLi? Price points aside, though isn't a 512MB card suppose to be compared to a 512MB card?

    Derek Wilson is our GPU guy and Wesley is our Chipset/Motherboard guy. The 7800 GTX 512MB just launched Monday. I can guarantee that Wes was well along in benchmarks (probably even done!) before Derek has numbers for the new NVIDIA card. Read the article closely: it states that the X1800XT/Crossfire beats 7800GTX/SLI in every test run. However, 7800GTX 512MB/SLI would probably come out on top still.

    If that's the case, I assume Rx480/482/Crossfire X1800XT result would probably be even lower than the RD580/Crossfire X1800XT when pitted against the 7800GTX 512MB/SLi?


    If you're an NVIDIA diehard, you probably won't care, but the ATI fans are probably glad to hear that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

    That might be the case for ATi Fans, though I believe they don't take to kindly to deception/trickery either like rest of us.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    You use MSRP's when it suits your argument and street prices when those suit your point. The MSRP of the X1800XT and 7800GTX are the same at $599 - check the 7800GTX launch reviews if you doubt that point. X1800XT have beens selling for a week and are selling for retail at $599. 7800GTX has been selling since late June and a search of our Price Engine shows a price range of $449 to $599 selling price for the 7800GTX, with a check of etailers showing most cards around $499. The 7800GTX 512 has a MSRP of $649 but is selling for $699 at every e-tailer in our Price Engine.

    From our June 22nd 7800GTX launch review, p.1 "The GeForce 7800 GTX will cost a solid $600. Of course, we do expect retailers to charge a premium for the early adopters. Prices we are seeing at launch are on the order of $650."

    The prices fpr today's new stuff, both the X1800XT and the 7800GTX 512, will likely drop over time just as the 7800GTX prices have dropped. Today the 7800GTX is clearly the best high-end value, particularly if you shop a little for the $450 to $460 cards. We can only speculate about tomorrow.

    It is impossible to debate with a fan - or most nVidia or ATI PR departments.
  • Powermoloch - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I don't see why people start bashing ATi after reading this article. I find it ironic that people are willing to spend $200 more on a dual card setup on Nvidia (2x512 7800GTX) while it is likely that the 2 x X1800XT "only" shows better performance according to AT. My belief that competition is healthy, this gives more variety of products for the end-user of all kinds to choose from. And this kind of competition will likely spark new technology, drive down prices (maybe rise up too), and also people can claim themselves as ATi or Nvidia and still be happy for what they get (maybe).

    Other than that, this is good news for the PC enthusiasts. Why have a fuss about it?
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    It may be a great performer, but that is the fugliest board layout I have EVER seen, and the color scheme rivals only the McDonald's-themed Jetway. If I had a windowed case, I'd put up curtains to hide that thing. Reply
  • 3DC - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Why didn't you compare it to a 512MB 7800GTX setup? Is it because ATI told you not too? Another thing you mention price point comparison. Well it's actually cheaper to compare it to a 512Mb 7800GTX SLI setup then to a 256Mb 7800GTX SLI setup.

    2 512MB 7800GTX = $1400.00
    2 512MB X1800XT = $1200.00
    2 256MB 7800GTX = $900.00

    Plus if you tack on the price of the RD580 motherboard and then you are putting the Crossfire setup more and more comparable to the 512MB 7800GTX SLI system. Considering everyone and their mothers own a SLI nForce board for their AMD CPU.

    It seems ATI didn't want you to use the 512Mb cards, because according to them it's not the card they are going after. Plus to tack on you saying ATI beats NVIDIA in all of the benchmarks is a little premature don't ya think?

    This preview sounded more like a ATI PR Announcement...
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Derek Wilson is our GPU guy and Wesley is our Chipset/Motherboard guy. The 7800 GTX 512MB just launched Monday. I can guarantee that Wes was well along in benchmarks (probably even done!) before Derek has numbers for the new NVIDIA card. Read the article closely: it states that the X1800XT/Crossfire beats 7800GTX/SLI in every test run. However, 7800GTX 512MB/SLI would probably come out on top still.

    Looking at prices of the X1800XL - they're selling below MSRP and are only slightly more expensive than the 7800GT - we can guess that X1800XT prices will drop over the next month or two. The price of the new NVIDIA 512MB cards will also drop, of course, but they will likely continue to cost ~$100 more than X1800XT.

    As for this being a PR piece, *every* article written is essentially PR. There's no such thing as a bad review from the marketing standpoint - many people won't read the reviews, but they'll still see the company names! However, that doesn't mean we're intentionally playing favorites. ATI's X1800XT is a fast card, and in Crossfire it should be very competitive with 7800GTX. If you're an NVIDIA diehard, you probably won't care, but the ATI fans are probably glad to hear that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • 3DC - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I think the article should be a little clearer in differentiating between the 7800 GTX 256Mb and the 512Mb card. Just a little FYI, I think it's time to add the 256Mb moniker to the end of the 7800 GTX so we all know which card you are talking about. Reply

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