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Sapphire Technology, the largest maker of ATI Radeon graphics cards on the globe, announced on Tuesday its new graphics cards that employ two chips from ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices. The novelties feature relatively high-speed memory chips and may truly allow the board to offer respectable performance levels. But what about compatibility?

Sapphire’s HD 2600 X2 graphics cards are equipped with ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics processing units clocked at 800MHz as well as with 512MB or 1GB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1600MHz. Even though memory speed is considerably lower than that of ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics cards’ 2200MHz, it is also substantially higher compared to dual-chip ATI Radeon HD 2600 graphics board from GeCube, which means that the product has all chances to offer high performance levels and successfully compete against high-end versions of Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS-based products.

ATI Radeon HD 2600 graphics processing unit (GPU) sports 120 stream processors (SPs), 8 texture units (TUs) and 4 render back ends (RBEs). Two of such processors will provide 240 SPs, still considerably less compared to one ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT that boasts with 320 unified shader processors.

But while performance of Sapphire’s dual-chip ATI Radeon HD 2600 X2 graphics card may be truly high, its compatibility is not as broad as that of Nvidia’s single-chip GeForce 8600 GTS. The card itself is physically slightly taller than the standard and may not fit into some computer cases. Moreover, the HD 2600 X2 is compatible with platforms based on AMD 580X CrossFire, AMD CrossFire Express 3200, Intel 975X Express, Intel P965 Express and Intel P35 Express chipsets only. Actual performance in 3D applications of any multi-GPU configuration depends on drivers, therefore, in some games the dual-chip graphics card may only demonstrate performance similar to a single-chip solution.

Sapphire HD 2600 X2 graphics card is available now to order by OEMs and to integrators building special projects requiring multiple display configurations. Retail availability will be planned according to regional demand.

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