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Around 11 months after NVIDIA Corp. unveiled its multi-GPU technology called SLI, the arch-rival ATI Technologies on Tuesday announced its own technology that allows two graphics cards to work in parallel, dubbed CrossFire. The method allows ATI to target ultra high-performance gaming PCs with its graphics cards.

“ATI's CrossFire platform delivers the best gaming experience bar none. It is by far the most broadly compatible and flexible multi-GPU platform and gives users the most options for enhancing performance and visual quality. We believe this platform sets the stage for outstanding gaming now and in the future, with systems powered by ATI's graphics processors and chipsets,” said Rick Bergman, Senior Vice President and General Manager, PC Business Unit, ATI Technologies.

ATI CrossFire platform consists of ATI RADEON XPRESS 200 CrossFire Edition core-logic, ATI RADEON X800/X850-series graphics card as well as ATI RADEON X800/X850-series CrossFire Edition graphics card equipped with Compositing Engine, a special set of chips that blends parts of frames rendered by different graphics cards. ATI RADEON XPRESS chipsets code-named RD400 and RD480 for Intel and AMD processors respectively support the latest processors and memory types. Mainboards featuring the chipsets are claimed to support all the latest I/O technologies, such as Serial ATA II.

The CrossFire offers different patterns to boost performance of two graphics cards and also offers ways to improve image quality through advanced antialiasing patterns never before seen on desktop computers.

ATI’s add-in cards partners, including ASUS, Connect3D, Diamond, GeCube, GIGABYTE, HIS, MSI, Pailt, Sapphire, TUL or VisionTek, will produce three CrossFire Edition graphics cards with different specs and pricing:

  • RADEON X850 CrossFire Edition 256MB – 16 pixel pipelines, 6 vertex pipelines, 520MHz/1080MHz core/memory. $549.
  • RADEON X800 CrossFire Edition 256MB – 16 pixel pipelines, 6 vertex pipelines, 400MHz/1000MHz core/memory. $299.
  • RADEON X800 CrossFire Edition 128MB  – 16 pixel pipelines, 6 vertex pipelines, 400MHz/1000MHz core/memory. $249.

Mainboard makers, such as ASUS, DFI, ECS, Gigabyte, MSI, PC Partner, Sapphire and TUL will produce CrossFire mainboards.

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, ATI said.

System builders such as ABS, Alienware, Cyberpower, Falcon Northwest, Hypersonic, Ibuypower, Monarch PC, PC Club, Polywell, Velocity Micro, VoodooPC, and ZT Group will also carry CrossFire systems for gamers wanting pre-built systems.

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