ATI Puts NVIDIA's SLI in the CrossFire

Ingenious And Absurd

ATI's CrossFire = standard graphics card + CrossFire card + Xpress 200 motherboard

The concept of putting several graphics cards in one PC, which theoretically doubles gaming performance, is both ingenious and absurd. Ingenious because the graphics card's performance can be boosted in such a simple and straight forward way; absurd because the performance increase does not necessarily justify the hefty price of such a system.

By launching its SLI technology, NVIDIA nevertheless decided to take this step, and its success proves it was spot on. It has already sold more than one million of its nForce 4 SLI motherboard chipsets - an impressive figure considering that the people buying into SLI are almost without exception dyed-in-the-wool gaming freaks. However, NVIDIA's SLI concept comes with a few limitations: both cards must be absolutely identical, or in other words, they must use the same BIOS. And SLI does not work for all games. When it does, its performance in high screen resolutions and quality settings has been invincible. Until now, that is.

Because with "CrossFire," the technology for environments using several graphics cards at once, ATI has set out to do everything better than Nvidia- that, at least, is the vendor's intention.

Obvious advantages of ATI's CrossFire over SLI:

  • Works with all DirectX and OpenGL games;
  • Cards do not have to be identical and do not have to come from the same manufacturer;
  • Works with older Radeon X800/X850 models, too;
  • More dual modes than NVIDIA's SLI;
  • Dual modes to improve picture quality.

So what lies behind the CrossFire technology and how is it meant to work? While ATI says test samples will not be available before one or two months, the vendor has already begun demonstrating how the technology works in demo systems.