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Sapphire Likes HDMI Hot: Ignite Your Imagination

Sapphire Technology is the premium partner of graphics chip designer ATI Technologies, as it is affiliated with PC Partner, a large maker of graphics cards and mainboards for ATI and its allies. Sapphire is probably the largest producer of ATI Radeon-powered graphics cards on the planet, it has products designed for enthusiasts and performance-demanding users as well as for those who would like to have affordable solutions.

This year Sapphire has hired two models to attract attention to the booth, something in which they are quite successful:

… and also to ignite your imagination:

As usually, Sapphire demonstrates loads of its ATI-based products, including the new mainboard powered by the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset developed for the multi-GPU CrossFire technology operation.

  

The mainboard features advanced central processing unit (CPU) power supply circuitry and, as all Pure-series products, promises to allow maximum overclocking potential, something that those who buy systems to run a couple of the Radeon X1900 XT-series graphics cards may demand. The obvious drawback of the mainboard is that the only PCI slot is adjacent the main PCI Express x16 interface, which prevents installing a PCI add-in card when a graphics card with dual-slot cooling solution is used. This may negatively affect enthusiasts who would like to have the best of the best: the fastest tandem of graphics cards and the most advanced audio card, such as Creative Labs’ X-Fi.

Sapphire will market two versions of the CrossFire Xpress 3200 mainboards: one for about $200 with improved microprocessor power supply circuitry and FireWire as well as a “basic” mainboard for about $129 with typical CPU power supply circuitry and without IEEE1394 controller. Both are capable of running a pair of graphics cards in the CrossFire mode, hence, those who want to get a cost-effective CrossFire system will be able to do it, just like those who plan a high-performance solution with high overclocking potential.

Sapphire also displays its first graphics cards supporting HDMI interface based on the Radeon X1600 Pro graphics processing units (GPUs). The company says it has two incarnations of the boards: one is designed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and another is made for retail market.

The one that is intended for OEMs has 64-bit memory access and external audio connector, whereas for the retail market Sapphire preps a product with 128-bit memory bus and without additional audio connector. The combination is not surprising, as it is usually OEMs who want to have cut-down performance, but maximum connectors and lowest price, whereas the retail market usually demands higher speed graphics cards.


Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro with HDMI connector for the retail market


Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro with HDMI connector for OEMs

Sapphire said that the graphics cards are HDCP-compatible, which means that those who intend to built a home theater personal computer (HTPC) that would play movies on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs may acquire such graphics cards in advance of the appropriate optical drives.

 
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