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ASRock 870 Extreme3 and Software Crossfire

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December 30, 2010 11:17:17 PM

I built myself what I thought would be a nice little gaming system over the break. Only problem is my pair of video cards does not Crossfire. I called Powercolor and they told me that my cards don't do hardware Crossfire (with the bridge cables) only software crossfire with compatible motherboards (using the PCIe bus). So, now I need to know two things:

1) Does my motherboard support SOFTWARE Crossfire and,
2) If so, how do I enable it on the motherboard?

So far ASROCK technical support has not responded to my inquiry.

CASE ROSEWILL BLACKBONE RT $39.99
CPU AMD|ATH II X4 640 3.0G AM3 RT $99.99
HD 500G|WD 7K 16M SATA2 WD5000AAKS - OEM $49.99
MEM 4Gx2|GSKILL F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL $119.99
MB ASROCK| 870 EXTREME3 R $89.99 (BIOS version P1.60)
(2) VGA PWRCLR| AX4850 512MD3-HV3 R $189.98
PSU ANTEC|EA650 RT $69.99
DVD BURNER SAMSUNG | SH-S223L $17.99

Here's a little more data to consider. Both video cards show up in Device Manager in Windows 7 64-bit, both are reported as problem free, but only the first card shows up in Catalyst Control Center, and the option to enable or configure Crossfire settings in CCC is greyed out.

Please note that my video cards do not have connectors for plugging in Crossfire cables. You can see the lack of connectors in the images on Newegg's site below.

<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...;

a c 1110 V Motherboard
December 31, 2010 8:29:20 PM

The board supports crossfire, then it should support software CF if both cards do.
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December 31, 2010 8:46:21 PM

Thank you rolli59. Do I have to do something to enable it? I've already checked the BIOS and there are no settings there even distantly related to crossfire. I have the most recent BIOS and drivers and CCC. The cards aren't crossfiring by themselves, so there must be some configuring required.
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January 1, 2011 3:39:29 AM

I had the mb but I fear I damaged it not grounding it correctly. A screw socket on the case was stripped out and I didn't see it until after I started having problems.

Anyways I rma and will get another board that supports Sli as I was mislead into believing the board supported that option. Yes the board supports crossfire how ever the cards have to be ati crossfire ready otherwise they won't work.
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January 1, 2011 4:31:46 PM

Thank you tecmo34 and Cpujunkie,

I am running the lastest ATI Catalyst drivers and Catalyst Control Center. I cannot enable Crossfire in CCC because the configuration options are greyed out. In the "Graphics Adapter List" only one card shows up. On the diagnostics tab the following message is displayed:

"The CrossFireX internal bridge interconnects linking your CrossFireX graphics cards are not properly connected. Both bridge interconnects must be attached. For more information see the user's guide for your graphics card."

I have a pair of CrossFire cables, but since my cards don't have CrossFire connecters, it is not physically possible to plug cables in.

Powercolor techincal support insists that my cards are CrossFire ready and don't need interconnecting cables as they rely upon the motherboards PCIe bus to communicate. ASRock has not responded to my inquiry. Assuming that Powercolor's information is accurate, and that all I need is a software-crossfire-capable motherboard:

1) Does my motherboard support SOFTWARE Crossfire and,
2) If so, how do I enable it on the motherboard?

Thanks in advance.
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a c 1110 V Motherboard
January 1, 2011 4:34:21 PM

Have you looked at all your BIOS options?
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January 1, 2011 4:51:55 PM

Thank you rolli59,

I have verified that I am running the most current BIOS (version P1.60). I have scrutized every field, but I didn't find a single setting that was directly related to CrossFire. I also searched the manual and the word "CrossFire" does not appear in the chapter on BIOS settings.) The only thing even remotely related was the option to make PCIe the default video card.

That being said, I am not an expert on BIOS settings, so if anyone knows different I would love to hear from them. I've included a link to the manual below:

<ftp://174.142.97.10/manual/870%20Extreme3.pdf&gt;

Soooo, my questions remain:

1) Does my motherboard support SOFTWARE Crossfire and,
2) If so, how do I enable it on the motherboard?

Thanks in advance.
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a c 1110 V Motherboard
January 1, 2011 4:59:38 PM

I was looking at your manual after my last post, the first thing that comes on my mind is the installation steps for a CF setup especially step 2!

"Step 1. Power on your computer and boot into OS.
Step 2. Remove the ATI TM driver if you have any VGA driver installed in your system.
The Catalyst Uninstaller is an optional download. We recommend using this
utility to uninstall any previously installed Catalyst drivers prior to installation.
Please check AMD website for ATI TM driver updates.
Step 3. Install the required drivers to your system.
For Windows® XP OS:
A. ATI TM recommends Windows® XP Service Pack 2 or higher to be
installed (If you have Windows® XP Service Pack 2 or higher installed
in your system, there is no need to download it again):
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/sp2/default.mspx
B. You must have Microsoft .NET Framework installed prior to
downloading and installing the CATALYST Control Center. Please
check Microsoft website for details.
For Windows® 7 / Vista TM OS:
Install the CATALYST Control Center. Please check AMD website for details.
Step 4. Restart your computer.
Step 5. Install the VGA card drivers to your system, and restart your computer.
Then you will find “ATI Catalyst Control Center” on your Windows® taskbar.
ATI Catalyst Control Center
Step 6. Double-click “ATI Catalyst Control Center”. Click “View”, select
“CrossFireXTM”, and then check the item “Enable CrossFireXTM”. Select “2
GPUs” or “4 GPUs” and click “Apply”."

Did you install the drivers (CCC) with both cards in the board?
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January 1, 2011 5:15:50 PM

tecmo34,

I'm no expert, but I don't think modern day Crossfire uses this type of master/slave arrangement. Note that the article you reference was written in 2005. If you find out any different, please let me know.
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January 1, 2011 5:19:53 PM

Thank you rolli59,

I built this system from scratch, therefore there were never any previous ATI drivers to uninstall. Both cards were in when I booted the machine up for the first time and when I first installed the ATI drivers and CCC. Later, when I tried installing a different version of the drivers I was careful to use Catalyst uninstaller to remove the current drivers first.

Soooo, my questions remain:

1) Does my motherboard support SOFTWARE Crossfire and,
2) If so, how do I enable it on the motherboard?

Thanks in advance.
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a c 235 V Motherboard
January 1, 2011 5:37:48 PM

jdswtaylor said:
tecmo34,

I'm no expert, but I don't think modern day Crossfire uses this type of master/slave arrangement. Note that the article you reference was written in 2005. If you find out any different, please let me know.

Yeah... I know but is worth a shot if can find cheap :) 

I've been reviewing this card & not seeing much luck with Crossfire with the cards. If still within "return window" I would consider returning and going with an ATI 5770 instead... just my opinion :) 
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a c 1110 V Motherboard
January 1, 2011 5:55:09 PM

Maybe the problem is in that officially the 870chip set does not support CF but somehow Asrock modified the board to do so.
"870
* Codenamed RX880
* Single AMD processor configuration
* One physical PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 2.0 x4 slot and two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, the chipset provides a total of 22 PCIe 2.0 lanes and 4 PCIe 2.0 for A-Link Express III solely in the Northbridge
* HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0"
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January 11, 2011 12:05:23 AM

Still hoping the community can answer this for me....

So, ASRock technical support tells me that my 870 Extreme3 motherboard does not support "bridgeless" CrossFire. I wrote both ATI and Powercolor technical support and requested a list of recommended or tested motherboards that do support "bridgeless" Crossfire (as described to my by the technical support team at Powercolor). So far neither company has responded to my request.

I returned the Powercolor HD 4850 cards to Newegg and purchased two Sapphire HD 4850 (model 100245HDMI) cards instead. Sapphire kindly includes a CrossFire cable in each retail box. I installed the cards with their bridge cables and...voila...instant CrossFire. My system is a thing of beauty, exactly what I was expecting when I put it together in the first place. My framerate almost doubles when running in CrossFire mode.

I have a sneaky suspicion that there is no such thing as "bridgeless" CrossFire--at least with respect to this chipset--and that Powercolor has simply left the CrossFire connectors off this model card to increase their profit margin. I would not complain about this strategy--clearly targeted at the budget crowd--except that Powercolor markets this card as supporting CrossFire--which it clearly does not.

If anyone here can correct my conclusion, please speak now. I will gladly withdraw my criticisms of Powercolor if anyone can show how to run these cards in CrossFire mode without the bridge cables.
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a c 235 V Motherboard
January 11, 2011 12:32:46 AM

It is possible but I don't think it is with the ATI 4850... http://game.amd.com/us-en/content/images/crossfirex/CF_...
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January 11, 2011 4:14:32 AM

Best answer selected by jdswtaylor.
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January 11, 2011 4:16:05 AM

Thanks, tecmo34,

It's pretty clear that ATI does not consider this chipset capable of "bridgeless" CrossFire.
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a c 135 V Motherboard
January 11, 2011 6:31:45 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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