ATI Radeon X1800 Crossfire

Discussion in 'Beyond3D Articles' started by Dave Baumann, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    <a href="http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/x1800xf/"><img border="1" src="http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/x1800xf/images/focus.gif" align="right" width="120" height="75"></a>Now that ATI have fully released the X1000 series they are taking a second stab at the dual graphics Crossfire solution, with the aim to resolving some of the previous implementation’s issues. With the X1000 series ATI are taking a dual pronged approach; at the high end they are maintaining the specialised “master card” solution that can be mated with an existing board, while at the lower segments they are relying on two standard boards with inter-board communication occurring via the PCI Express interface with the host platform.

    In this article we are taking a look at the performance of ATI’s high end Crossfire solution with the Radeon X1800 Crossfire Edition. <a href="http://www.beyond3d.com/reviews/ati/x1800xf/">Read the full article here</a>.
     
  2. tEd

    tEd Casual Member
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    Can you provide some pictures from the SuperAAA 10/14 mode comparing to 6xAAA?
     
  3. FrameBuffer

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    yet another fine B3D review I must say,. rather than just showing the top end 1800XT and it's max frame rate in a few hand picked (thus usually "optimized") benchmarks it's nice to see B3D go so far as to include the 1800XL and 850XT in solo and XF modes.

    For a while I have been contemplating the purchase of an ATI crossfire solution be it a whole (all at once, i.e. ATI crossfire motherboard plus ATI MasterCard and slave)solution or to purchase piece by piece, however articles like that by the Beyond 3-D truly do a service to consumer by showing that such a hardware configuration is truly delegated to a niche market and that offers very little as a whole in return such for such a large investment. As more and more information becomes available about crossfire not only in terms of performance(or lack of) but also the drawbacks and seemingly the errata that need to be worked out before such a platform like crossfire and SLI (more so with crossfire) becomes more mature.

    Generally I do consider myself a niche consumer as my needs do not mean those of the general gaming market or Joe consumer as a whole, while I do enjoy the occasional 3-D fest my more recent needs and requirements revolve around video encoding particularly H.264. I have yet to see any conclusive evidence either way whether crossfire or any such configuration has any real benefit to begin transcoding or hardware assisted decoding/encoding. Recently it was shown that H264 decoding will scale with the X1000 series depend upon which solution one purchases, with HD 1020P material requiring a top-of-the-line x1800 XT. Until it is 100% decisively shown whether or not that such features of Avivio (H264 transcoding and hardware assist decoding à la GPU) benefit from multi-GPU systems my mind is deftly made up to skip crossfire altogether and leave it to those who feel they must reside on the bleeding edge of hardware enthusiasm.

    As I read more top-quality reviews like those from beyond 3-D it becomes more apparent as far as the case with ATI and its multi-GPU solutions (though the case may be with any multi-GPU solution) is more of a stopgap until the next generation hardware it comes available which then performs near equally in a single solution versus the previous generation's multi-VPU or GPU remedy. A prime example of this is the 850XT versus the 1800 XT,where the 850 XT in crossfire mode finds itself competing with a single 1800 XT, this is not to say that each successive hardware generation will be nearly double the performance of the previous generation as it is only in very few and select examples where crossfire meets its theoretical performance.

    SLI and crossfire originally seemed to be aimed at those wishing to extend a little bit more viability to their aging system or offer a bit more in terms of upgradability further down the road. However from most all accounts it seems that those who decided to purchase such configurations do so all at once rather than further down the road rather than Joe upgrader. As always if you choose to play on the bleeding edge you must really pay for it as prices escalate further to do so becomes rather costly. For us mortals whose pockets don't run so deep and can't afford to buy the graphics subsystem that cost more than most computers do it obviously pays off to stay behind the curve and look for hardware that becomes discarded by those who play at the outer fringe all in the name of performance. If multi-GPU truly looks to become more the norm than I would suggest that graphics companies take a page from the book of CPU manufacturers and their recent push for multicore CPUs and their advancement into the commonplace. Until such happens multi-GPU will always be delegated as a niche market solution (all IMO of course).
     
  4. roadie

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    Very good review, as always. However, it would have been nice to see a comparison with an SLI set up too, say 2x7800GTX 256mb because both multi graphic card set up's would cost similar amounts.
     
  5. Kanyamagufa

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    Thank you for again putting in the time to make this review so thorough. I especially appreciated the image quality benches. If there's something for ATI to brag about, it's gonna be there.

    Please? :grin:
     
  6. Sanctusx2

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    Actually that's exactly what makes Dave's reviews unique. He never compares across brands between ATI and Nvidia either in benchmarks or in his judgements.
     
  7. Colourless

    Colourless Monochrome wench
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    Ok... SuperAA is now looking very very nice as far as performance goes.
     
  8. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    At this present point in time its next to impossible to capture the final image quality on anything that I know about, as far as I can see - I certainly tried it with Colourless's app, but it would only ever produce one half of the samples. The problem is that the applications probably still feel they are dealing with one (the master) board and that board is what is producing the display, hence the capture works off that board, but the apps have no concept that the displayed image is actually coming from a separate compositing device that doesn't even have any memory - this wasn't an issue with SuperAA on X850 because the blending was actually occuring on the master graphics chip, but with this version the actual displayed image is generated "on the fly" and not actually stored anywhere.

    I'll ask ATI, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get through to anyone anytime soon now.
     
  9. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    You actually reminded me of a section of the conclusion that I forgot to include, which basically goes only the lines of "buyer beware" -- with the talk of R580's impending arrival, X1800's Crossfire is really going to be another "go nowhere" product, and realisically speaking Crossfire as a platform and support only actually becomes versy serious with that (since its likely to have a little more longevity to it), IMO.

    However, having briefly looked at a few other reviews on the web I noted that there were a number of other applications that exhibited issues with Crossfire, so have have put the following to them:

    We'll see if we get some comments back from it.
     
  10. tEd

    tEd Casual Member
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    A little thing i've noticed. Under chips capabilities you list int16 HDR blending which is afaik wrong. Blending on int16 is not supported.
     
  11. Ali

    Ali
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    Im pretty interested in the future of X1600Pro or XT CrossFire. I assume you will do an article about that at some stage.

    What I would like to see is possibly a bit niche, but could be interesting for other people. I work in finance, and run 3 monitors at the moment (Matrox Parhilia), but would like to move to four. With X1600 XF is it possible to run 4 DVI screens off them for work, then if I feel like a quick game after work enable XF acceleration on one screen?

    I dont want to change cables, or reboot or anything like that. Just start up a game and have a bit more speed than the X1600 single would supply.

    Thanks

    Ali
     
  12. SirPauly

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    Dave,

    Thank you so much for this review. This was the exact data I was looking for. Great job!
     
  13. Rys

    Rys Graphics @ AMD
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    I think Colourless's app only works in full screen mode, for grabbing sample grids with Crossfire, if that's what you mean?
     
  14. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    No, if you run it normally its in Windowed mode, so Crossfire defaults back to a single board, and you get just the normal sample pattern displayed. Run it fullscreen and you'll see all 8/12 sample points but then capture it and the image displayed will only have the sample points for the master board.
     
  15. MistaPi

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    Im just wondering, can X1800 (or X1900) run in crossfire without a mastercard like the X1300 and X1600 (fallback to sending frame info over PCIe bus istead of the composite engine)?
     
  16. AlexV

    AlexV Heteroscedasticitate
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    AFAIK no, that configuration is not possible.
     
  17. Iron Tiger

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    I've read that a future driver release may make it possible for X1800's on Crossfire 3200 motherboards. No word on X1900 support.
     
  18. Rys

    Rys Graphics @ AMD
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    CATALYST 6.5 should see it, and X18 and X19 should be supported.
     
  19. Geo

    Geo Mostly Harmless
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    X1900 supported for dongle-less CrossFire? Can't wait to see comparitive perf numbers on that, particularly for Super-AA. Any hints that master cards will be drying up from the supply end?
     
  20. BRiT

    BRiT (>• •)>⌐■-■ (⌐■-■)
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    Any chance of getting Crossfire working with an X1900XT and an X1800XT-PE?
     
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