Before anyone asks, the answer is yes, Origin's new EON17-SLX laptop with support for up to two discrete GPUs has enough horsepower to carry Crysis on its back while lugging around a sack of eye candy. Even without dual graphics cards, the EON17-SLX is, on paper, a pretty potent system with the requisite hardware to properly drive a 17.3-inch display with a Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) resolution.
While most of us were sitting around watching football and ringing in the New Year over the holiday weekend, our friends over at VR-Zone were getting their geek on by modding and benchmarking AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards. They started with a single HD 7970 board, of which they quickly modded with a special BIOS that allowed them to bump up the core voltage from 1.15V to 1.25V.
Now that both AMD and Nvidia have dual-GPU videocards on the market, quad-GPU CrossFireX and SLI setups are possible—that is, if you have the motherboard, the power supply, the money, and can actually find two dual-GPU cards.
Representing quad SLI, we have two relatively compact Nvidia GeForce GTX 590s. In the quad-CrossFireX corner are two of AMD's hulking, foot-long Radeon HD 6990s. Both paris cost about the same—an astronomical $1,500, give or take—but which is the better option?
Ever since multicore processors appeared a few years ago, programmers have been complaining about them. Distributing a software workload among multiple CPUs isn’t as easy as running a single-threaded program on a single CPU. Now AMD is doing something even more difficult—but it’s the future of computer science.
And off we go! Now that Intel has officially outed its Z68 Express chipset, the announcements from hardware vendors pitching new products are rolling in. One of those is from MSI who just unveiled a couple of Z68 motherboards (socket 1155), one of which features support for both CrossFireX and SLI.
For those of your running multiple ATI Radeon videocards in a CrossFire configuration, AMD this week posted a new ATI Catalyst Application Profile (10.9a). The update includes CrossFire performance boosts for a handful of titles, including:
LucidLogix has managed to pull in an additional $8 million of venture capital to continue developing its multi-GPU Hydra products. A Lucid representative said the cash would be used to both accelerate adoption of Hydra, and do new R&D on multi-GPU products. Lucid also took the opportunity to remind us that a new version of the Hydra driver is on the way.
The Hydra system is s system on a chip (SoC) that allows a PC to accept two different GPUs and make use of them for scalable 3D graphics. So instead of needing two identical Nvida cards for SLI, you can use any models (even an ATI card) and see a performance benefit. The upcoming driver update will add DX11 support as well as support for up to three GPUs.
MSI is currently integrating the Hydra SoC into their motherboards and expects to release several mid-range options in the coming months. If this technology takes off, you may never have to wonder what to do with your old video card again, you could just keep using it.
You can forgive AMD for stealing a line from Nvidia’s playbook. From the name and marketing materials, it’s not obvious that this card is a dual GPU card. One AMD chart even refers to the card as the “ATI Radeon HD 5970 GPU,” much like Nvidia’s 295 GTX is a dual GPU card that’s sold as if it were a normal graphics card.
We first take a quick look at the speeds and feeds of the new card, and then discuss additional features. We’ll compare them to the Radeon HD 5870 single GPU card; there are differences in core and memory clock speeds. Then, we jump into the benchmarks, comparing the Radeon HD 5970 to four other videocards in high-resolution gaming.
And if those numbers don't impress you, wait until you see how this beast performs in Crossfire for a total of four GPUs.
Three years from now, two-thirds of all new desktop systems will be mutli-GPU capable and of those, 30 percent will be rocking multiple graphics chips. Or at least that's the not-too-distant future Jon Peddie Research Group (JPR) laid out last week in a report on the history, technology, and future of multi-GPU computing. But are we really on the verge of widespread multi-GPU computing?
Not so fast, says Arstechnica. The JPR report points to the desire for high performance computing as the driving force for multi-GPU setups, noting high performance workloads are highly parallel and unsuited for CPU applications. But according to Arstechnica, JPR hasn't thought through the manufacturing angle.
"GPUs are composed of many parallel processing units, so any multi-GPU system involves simply ganging together still more of such small, simple processor cores," Arstechnica writes. "Because the cores are small and the workload is parallel, there is no limit on core count analogous to the limit on the number of processors that can profitably be used in a single x86 CPU. The limits on single-die GPU horsepower are manufacturing limits."
But it's not just about manufacturing. As Ars points out, only two percent of all desktop PCs sold last year came with multiple GPUs, and in Q4 of last year, only 15.2 million out of 38.5 million PCs sold came with even a single discrete graphics card. It's hard to imagine such a dramatic shift towards multiple GPUs in just three short years from now.
There's more to Ars' argument, which you can read here.
Its official name is Core 2 CrossFire DDR3 Gaming System, but you can just call it the Quad Meister or Quaderino, if you’re into the brevity thing. What else could you possibly call a PC equipped with two ATI Radeon 4870 X2 cards (quad GPU cores), four Velociraptors (quad hard drives) and an overclocked Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (uhh, quad cores)? Maybe we’re stretching here, but our nickname is certainly sexier than the PC’s official moniker.