Meet the CrossFire System
ATI RADEON XPRESS 200 CrossFire Edition mainboards will be available from ATI’s partners beginning in June, whereas RADEON X850 CrossFire Edition graphics cards will be in production end of June and available mid-July. RADEON X800 CrossFire Edition cards will be available early August.
So, the earliest opportunity to lay your hands on ATI’s multi-GPU technology is in mid-July, if everything goes as planned. Currently ATI has a number of systems it demonstrates to journalists around the world along with some performance estimations.
At this point ATI’s multi-GPU systems are based on RADEON X850 XT technology. Unfortunately, the firm does not let media to snap screenshots or run benchmarks using the system, therefore, nothing can be said about performance advantages provided by ATI's CrossFire technology. Furthermore, at least now the system is pretty loud: both RADEON X850 and RADEON X850 CrossFire do not reduce the speed of their fans, which will hardly give any pleasure for users’ ears.
Performance Estimations, Future Thoughts
Most likely, multi-GPU system based on two ATI RADEON X850 XT will offer higher speed than single-GPU R520 system. However, the R520 will offer additional feature-set, such as Shader Model 3.0, and will cost a lot less than two RADEON X850 boards. It is unclear how ATI will position its dual-RADEON X850 products against its own R520, as top-of-the-range R520 unlikely to cost more than $549, which is the price of the RADEON X850 XT CrossFire Edition that will be available in mid-July, which is currently a timeframe for ATI to start talking about the R520 officially.
All in all, ATI’s CrossFire in its current implementation may not be something that will become widespread on the market partly due to lack of future-proof technologies (Shaders 3.0, HDR, etc.) and proximity of ATI R520 and NVIDIA G70 release, which will make RADEON X850 CrossFire Edition to co-exist with the next-generation GPUs sometime after the launch. It may turn out that only with R520 configurations hitting the market the CrossFire will achieve popularity, whereas what is launched today will be found only in PCs of hardcore gamers who want to have the best "right here and right now".