As you know from our news reports and reviews, AMD’s graphics department successfully turned the tables on its opponent by introducing a new mainstream-class graphics core. The RV770 GPU not only beat its rivals but even challenged Nvidia’s solutions from higher price categories.
A squadron is represented by its flagship in the first place. Although luxurious graphics cards priced at $500 and higher account for but a small share of sales, they symbolize the technological achievement of the developer and his ability to stay at the edge of progress. To produce such a flagship, ATI combined two RV770 cores on one PCB using its time-tested CrossFire technology. The company had introduced such solutions before: the release of the Radeon HD 3870 X2 can now be viewed as a simulation of the decisive battle. Its technological successor Radeon HD 4870 X2 left no chance to the GeForce GTX 280, proving that Nvidia’s strategy of developing the fastest monolithic GPU had been miscalculated.
ATI’s triumph in the premier league of graphics cards did not come easy, though. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 cost much more than the GeForce GTX 280 and had a terrifying level of power consumption, over 200 watts! On the other hand, the single-core Radeon HD 4870, even equipped with 1 gigabyte of fast GDDR5 memory, could not match Nvidia’s flagship in terms of gaming performance, although was far more economical and cheaper. A couple of Radeon HD 4850 or even 4830 cards might make a competitive solution but discrete multi-GPU configurations, i.e. those that consist of multiple graphics cards and occupy several PCI Express slots, had proven to be niche solutions. They can only be interesting for people who already own one such card and seek for a cheap way to increase the performance of their gaming platform. The main reason for the low popularity of such configurations is that they are not easy to deal with. They take too much space in the system case and are incompatible with some mainboards.