Mountain House (CA) - If everything goes according to plan, we will see AMD’s new Radeon GPU launch this week. But there is more news to this announcement and we are thinking about one special item you are unlikely to hear about: During AMD’s Cinema 2.0 schmoozapalooza in The Americano restaurant in San Francisco we learned that your Radeon 3850, 3870 or 3870 X2 graphics card will hold extra value: Don’t get rid of your old card just yet.
A source close to AMD told us that there will be "inter-generation compatibility" between the Radeon 3800 and 4850: "Since they’re both DirectX 10.1 parts, there is no reason why those two should not work together. (...) We will probably not qualify this interoperability, but who stops you from trying?"
It appears that ATI did not integrate a driver lock or something else that would stop you from combining a 3870 card with a 4850 or with a 4870 model. Just keep in mind that these two cards need to include the same amount of memory. If you mix and match a 3850 with 256 MB of memory with a 4850 512 MB, the 4850 card will default to 256 MB. If you wonder whether you will be able to combine a 3870 X2 card with a 4850 board, our sources indicated that this scenario should work as well.
There is nothing not to like about this interoperability. I personally believe this is a big win for the consumer: How often do you have to throw you old card away when a new generation is introduced? Usually, always (well, at least, if you are among those who try to always have the latest and greatest.)