No matter how fast your CPU is and what graphics card you use, you are going to run short of performance sooner or later. Just start to play a movie in your media player, open a dozen websites in your browser, launch your favorite game in windowed mode, and your seemingly high-performance PC will surely indicate you need to upgrade.
Although some of the blame lies with the programmers who fail to optimize their software, your CPU or GPU can also prove to be the limiting factor. Therefore both AMD and Nvidia have developed technologies for uniting multiple graphics cards into a single subsystem. This is a rather cheap way to increase your computer’s graphics performance. It also increases users’ brand loyalty as well as the service life of graphics cards despite the rapid changes in GPU generations. Let’s see what multi-GPU configurations are possible today.
We’re already quite familiar with the top-end cards from both AMD (Radeon HD 6990) and Nvidia (GeForce GTX 590) which represent the low end of this line-up. It is among these solutions that we should look for the fastest graphics subsystems in the world. So, what are our upgrade opportunities? Suppose you bought a Radeon HD 6970 half a year ago and have accumulated some money for an upgrade. If so, you should know that AMD’s multi-GPU technology, as opposed to Nvidia’s SLI, allows combining into a single subsystem not only identical graphics cards. So, today we are going to check out a tandem built out of a Radeon HD 6990 and a Radeon HD 6970.
Nvidia, on its part, is going to be represented by a 3-way SLI configuration consisting of three GeForce GTX 570s. The trio of GF110 chips sports a total of 1440 shader processors, 120 RBEs and a $100 lower price compared to AMD's alternative.
AMD’s Antilles+Cayman duo can boast some tremendous specs, too. Its peak memory bandwidth is as high as 500 GBps, and it has over 4600 ALUs and 288 texture-mapping units. We built our asymmetric CrossFireX tandem with the help from the leading graphics card maker ASUS.