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Just days after the RADEON X800-series hardware intended for operation in multi-GPU CrossFire mode emerged for sale virtually across the world, some stores began to take pre-orders on the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition graphics card, something which is expected to be very demanded by hardcore computer enthusiasts who would like to have a multi-GPU system with two RADEON X1800 XT boards.

British online web-stores Overclockers.co.uk and Overclock.co.uk are currently offering ATI RADEON X1800 XT Crossfire Edition 256MB graphics cards from Sapphire Technologies for about $599 (Ђ499, Ј339) excluding value added tax (VAT).

Both stores expect the products to be in stock in November, one mentions “early” in the month and another claims that the boards will be available on the 28th of November. Both web-stores stated that the graphics cards will feature 600MHz/1400MHz clock-speeds for chip/memory, down from the original speeds of the RADEON X1800 XT (625MHz and 1500MHz).

Sources familiar with the plans and product specifications of Sapphire Technology said that the company would ship RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition 256MB with the correct clock-speeds of the RADEON X1800 XT – 625MHz for the visual processing unit (VPU) and 1500MHz for GDDR3 memory. The world’s largest maker of ATI RADEON-based graphics cards is expected to start shipments of the product at the end of November and users are likely to be able to purchase the products on the 1st or the 2nd week of December.

ATI multi-GPU CrossFire platform requires a compatible chipset in addition to a pair of ATI RADEON X1800-series (or other series) graphics cards, one of which equipped with Compositing Engine, a special set of chips that blends parts of frames rendered by different graphics cards. When unveiling the CrossFire technology in late May, 2005, ATI said that it had validated only its own RADEON XPRESS 200-series chipsets to enable multi-GPU systems with RADEON X8-series visual processing units (VPUs). The company, however, recently added Intel 955X chipset to the list of supporting platforms, which means that every mainboard supporting two PCI Express x16 slots can also enable ATI’s multi-GPU technology. But even in case certain makers of graphics cards manage to deliver the RADEON X1800-series CrossFire products onto the market, end-users will have to wait till ATI enables multi-GPU support for them in the drivers.

Spokesman for ATI Technologies in London, UK, declined to comment on the unreleased product.

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