As we just mentioned, ATI was on hand demonstrating their recently announced CrossFire technology. CrossFire, in case you didnít know, is ATIís multiple graphics card technology. The concept of CrossFire is simple: combine two graphics cards together for nearly double the performance, or, in CPU-bound applications, better image quality. This is accomplished via CrossFireís SuperAA modes, which bring 8x, 10x, 12x, and 14x AA modes to the desktop PC for the first time ever.
ATI is making CrossFire available for both Intel and AMD platforms, VPUs supported include the entire X800 family, including PCI Express RADEON X800 PRO and RADEON X800 XT/X800 XT Platinum Edition, which were launched around this time last year, as well as the R430-based X800 and X800 XL. Cards supported at the extreme high-end include the RADEON X850 PRO, RADEON X850 XT, and X850 XT Platinum Edition.
Motherboards based on ATIís CrossFire chipset will support the latest technologies, including DDR2-667 and 1066MHz FSB for the Intel platforms, and 300MB/sec SATA with NCQ support (provided externally) for AMD processors. Both will support dual-core processing as well as SMP. Most attractive of all however will be price, ATI expects CrossFire motherboards to sell for roughly the same price nForce4 Ultra motherboards sell for today. This would give CrossFire a price advantage over nForce4 SLI.
ATIís CrossFire system was located at the front of the ballroom, greeting everyone who walked in to attend the invitational. Funnily enough, this caught the attention of multiple NVIDIA employees, as their suite was located across the hall from us on the opposite side of the world trade center building.
A few hours after the invitational event got underway, ATIís Director of Corporate Marketing, Paul Ayscough, gave a CrossFire demonstration to event attendees. Paul went over all the key features found in CrossFire, concluding with a demo of the CrossFire system running Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory in timedemo mode to showcase the CrossFire systemís performance. The system managed to run the stock timedemo included with the game at 80-90 frames per second with settings of 1024x768 with 4xAA/8xAF.
The rules for this yearís invitational were the same as our 2004 invitational. Each manufacturer was to submit two systems one high-end rig would be submitted into the contest, while the second PC was to be used solely in the Battlefield Lord of the Rings gaming tournament we were conducting (which was ultimately won by VIA).
The manufacturers were competing for one of seven awards: Best Portable Design, Highest Overclock, Best CPU/Motherboard Performance, Best Graphics Performance, Best Visual Design, Best Low Noise Design, and finally, the Ultimate Gaming Rig.