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Sapphire Technology, the world’s largest producer of ATI Radeon-based graphics cards, unveiled at Consumer Electronics Show the industry’s first dual-chip graphics card based on the Radeon X1950 Pro graphics processing units (GPUs). The novelty may offer pretty high performance, however, due to lack of DirectX 10 support, its market prospects are uncertain.

As revealed earlier, Sapphire’s Radeon X1950 Pro Dual is a bulky graphics card that carries two Radeon X1950 Pro GPUs that work in CrossFire mode, 1GB of GDDR3 memory and a bridge chip. The board has two power connectors and may not fit into typical computer cases, but require large, enthusiast-oriented, chassis. Sapphire also confirmed that in future it will be possible to make two dual-chip graphics boards work together, thus providing 4-way multi-GPU performance.

“The same thickness as a standard two slot graphics card, the Sapphire X1950 Pro Dual connects via a single PCI-Express x16 slot, bringing dual-GPU performance to mainboards with only one PCI Express connector, and opening up the future possibility of the world’s first Quad AMD GPU operation in an ATI CrossFire mainboard,” a statement by Sapphire reads.

ATI Radeon X1950 Pro (code-named RV570) graphics chip has 36 pixel shader processors, 8 vertex shader processors 12 texture units, 256-bit memory bus and so on. ATI recommends graphics cards makers to clock the Radeon X1950 Pro graphics processing unit (GPU) at 575MHz and memory at 1.38GHz. Clock-speeds of the dual-GPU Radeon X1950 Pro from Sapphire are similar to recommendations of ATI (the graphics division of Advanced Micro Devices) – 580MHz/1400MHz for GPU/memory.

Sapphire did not unveil exact pricing of the Radeon X1950 Pro Dual 1GB, but said that it would be available at “breakthrough price-point”. Recommended pricing for single-chip Radeon X1950 Pro graphics card with 256MB of memory is $199.

Nvidia Corp. introduced its 4-way SLI technology back at CES 2006, however, reviews of such technology revealed that four chips may not be faster than two clocked high enough and that the quad SLI may produce artifacts and/or glitches. At the end, Nvidia introduced its DirectX 10-supporting GeForce 8800-series graphics cards, making GeForce 7950 quad SLI useless for enthusiasts. Given that the Radeon X1950 Pro also does not support DirectX 10, game enthusiasts may not bite the 4-way CrossFire this time. Furthermore, they may not be eager to get Sapphire’s X1950 Pro Dual 1GB due to the same reason.

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