AMD's ATI Hybrid CrossFire Sneak Peek Exclusive @ [H]

FrgMstr

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AMD's ATI Hybrid CrossFire Sneak Peek Exclusive - Can you run CrossFire with only one video card? AMD shows us that they have it working and were confident enough to even let us sit down and play some games and run benchmarks on their new ATI Hybrid CrossFire system. CrossFire gaming performance for the masses?


Hybrid CrossFire is not meant for the enthusiast, but we do think the technology will indirectly benefit enthusiasts in the future, hence our reason for talking about it. That and Hybrid CrossFire is just pretty darn cool technology. Hybrid CrossFire is achieved by utilizing one of AMD’s new integrated chipset GPUs (IGP) and one of their new video cards or GPUs. That’s right; Hybrid CrossFire utilizes one video card plugged into your PCI-Express slot and is able to joins forces with the GPU built into the motherboard chipset.

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Stoly

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Since Crossfire doesn't work with crysis, how come Hybrid crossfire work? is there a patch or a new driver?
 

FrgMstr

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Since Crossfire doesn't work with crysis, how come Hybrid crossfire work? is there a patch or a new driver?

AMD had their patch enabled on the system, hence it actually working. This is the first time we have seen any dual GPU setup work on Crysis. The patch for everyone should be following closely.
 

Mith

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Pretty interesting tech they have going there. It could be useful for users with a low budget and can't spend 100-500 dollars solely on a video card.
 

trudeak

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this has huge pottential. think on this i buy a great asus enthuist board to overclock and then they comeout with a version with low end on board graphics for say $10 or $20 more and suddenly i can enable hybrid crossfire and take advantage of some extra gpu power this has broad reaching pottential
 

Stoly

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I don't know the specs of the integrated R600 graphics, so I'll assume they are somewhat lower than the RV620, if thats so then the performance gains are quite impressive taking in account that in crossfire the fastest card would slow down to match the slower card.
 

FrgMstr

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Pretty interesting tech they have going there. It could be useful for users with a low budget and can't spend 100-500 dollars solely on a video card.


I think this could be a big deal to AMD in terms of design wins on the low end. A 2.2GHz Tri-core CPU, along with this inexpensive R600 based IGP coupled with a $49 RV620 video card and all of a sudden you have something that can play games. Heck, while we did not try any older games it was apparent that the IGP alone could give you some pretty decent 3D gaming experiences. It has to be transparent though. Once the uneducated end user has to start jacking around with CCC to get it to work, no builder will touch it. However, if a major builder can ship it with an inexpensive upsell item like a $49 video card, and the end user has to do nothing to get it to work and keep it working, that is a win in the AMD column.
 

FrgMstr

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I don't know the specs of the integrated R600 graphics, so I'll assume they are somewhat lower than the RV620, if thats so then the performance gains are quite impressive taking in account that in crossfire the fastest card would slow down to match the slower card.

I did not mention this in the article, but in layman's terms, the RV620 and RS780 share the same GPU design. AND would not be specific on clocks however. They are expecting performance increases up to 1.9X with the technology, but in the current build we were seeing 1.5X. As 3D Mark diagnostics points to, it is working up to 1.9X now, just needs more driver tweaking for real games.
 

Silus

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Definitely interesting stuff. And this is a pretty big market they are trying to appeal, which means big profits, if they play their cards right.
 

Mith

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How high could one go with the dedicated GPU before getting diminished returns. What I mean is how fast of a video card could you put in before it is so fast that having the on-board GPU really isn't a help? Or is the possibility endless?
 

FrgMstr

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this has huge pottential. think on this i buy a great asus enthuist board to overclock and then they comeout with a version with low end on board graphics for say $10 or $20 more and suddenly i can enable hybrid crossfire and take advantage of some extra gpu power this has broad reaching pottential

Well, obviously you are going to have diminishing returns considering the power of today's IGPs. Once you start talking about trying to do this with high-end graphics I don't think it is near as attractive as many of us would not want to lock into a IGP tech that could not be upgraded, but as I mentioned, I think there are definite enthusiast features I would like to see born out of this.
 

FrgMstr

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How high could one go with the dedicated GPU before getting diminished returns. What I mean is how fast of a video card could you put in before it is so fast that having the on-board GPU really isn't a help? Or is the possibility endless?


I talked to AMD about this specifically and they are going to work the drivers where mid-level and high end cards do not work with Hybrid CrossFire. They want Hybrid CrossFire to work, and give solid returns, or they do not want it working at all. Which makes good sense to me. They lock Hybrid CrossFire down to the categories of platforms that can truly benefit from it and it will help sell it and control the experiences with it.
 

prominentlecturer

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Did they speak at all about portable applications? Seems to me that'd be a good place for this also (not having any info on Performance per watt, which may make it a deal breaker).
 

FadedSpark

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Thats pretty amazing to be honest, cater to the masses, get more complaints, have to fix more things, awesome for the enthusiast once it gets worked out :D I wonder how far back HCF will go in terms of compatibility with older IGP's...
 

FrgMstr

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Hmmm the most interesting part about this is (fusion?) will they be able to offload some computing to the IGP? I'm guessing the FP performance is still much higher then a cpu.

Good eye. While this is not happening now, AMD is certainly looking down the road and being able leverage Fusion cores with existing discrete GPU configurations.
 

FrgMstr

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Did they speak at all about portable applications? Seems to me that'd be a good place for this also (not having any info on Performance per watt, which may make it a deal breaker).

I would suggest you can count on seeing that.
 

FrgMstr

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Thats pretty amazing to be honest, cater to the masses, get more complaints, have to fix more things, awesome for the enthusiast once it gets worked out :D I wonder how far back HCF will go in terms of compatibility with older IGP's...

To my understanding there will be no backwards compatibilty at all. This technology will be assigned to specific sets of IGP/GPU combinations in order to control performance and quality issues.
 

eric66

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some nice news at last :) idea is great and seems to be working i really liked it hehe lets hope that nvidia and intel don't have stuff like this :p
 

jebo_4jc

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Cool concept.

FYI, Anandtech is reporting we "may" see the power saving features sometime in 2008.

the ability to power down your discrete graphics and only use integrated graphics in non-gaming scenarios, won't be delivered in the first version of the platform. While AMD mentioned that the power savings feature may be something we'll see in 2008, it's definitely not making its way out in the first release.
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3178
 

banned_user

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Man first amd throws individually overclockable cores with a good set of OC tools and now x-fire with an IGP? My HTPC will be tweaked to a ridiculous level. Id like to see if they can pull this off in a laptop.
 

FrgMstr

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some nice news at last :) idea is great and seems to be working i really liked it hehe lets hope that nvidia and intel don't have stuff like this :p


NVIDIA is working on this as well, and I am unsure about Intel but you can rest assured if AMD is doing it, they will do it sooner or later as well.
 

FrgMstr

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Cool concept.

FYI, Anandtech is reporting we "may" see the power saving features sometime in 2008.


http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3178

I specifically asked for this feature from both NVIDIA and ATI months ago. I think it is a very important part of making Hybrid an ethusiast technolgy. In fact I think it is THE Hybrid feature that enthusiasts will care about. That said I have not seen it working yet from NVIDIA or from AMD, but both are aware of the potential.
 

tvdang7

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isnt hybrid crossfire going to allow us to use 2 different cards also? say 3850 and a 2600xt? or is it just 1 card and 1 igp only? and when are the quad crossfire benches coming or is it limited by a driver for now?
 

FrgMstr

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Man first amd throws individually overclockable cores with a good set of OC tools and now x-fire with an IGP? My HTPC will be tweaked to a ridiculous level. Id like to see if they can pull this off in a laptop.

You can bet you will see that for sure.
 

FrgMstr

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isnt hybrid crossfire going to allow us to use 2 different cards also? say 3850 and a 2600xt? or is it just 1 card and 1 igp only? and when are the quad crossfire benches coming or is it limited by a driver for now?

For now specific sets of GPU/IGP combinations. Where it will go, who knows?
 

LstBrunnenG

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NVidia: Now you can buy THREE of our overpriced 8800 Ultras and put them in tri-SLI! You give us 3x the cash, we give you well under 3x the performance!

AMD: Here's a way you can use a GPU that's already integrated into your mainboard along with a $50 video card in order to get acceptable performance in tomorrow's games!

Despite the fact that NV is king today, which do you think made me smile more?

Also, it would both be really sad (for me) and really cool (for the people who bought this) if this marriage of low-end GPU and low-end IGP could out-perform my venerable 7800GTX.

Good stuff, Kyle.
 

Rob94hawk

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If I'm reading this correctly, what about ATI integrating their chip on a card that can go in a PCI slot say on an old 939 board with just one AGP slot. Since most of these boards have 5 vacant PCI slots would it be possible to then utilize the PCI slots in crossfire with older PCI cards? Or would the narrow bandwith of pci bottleneck it all?

I can imagine using my X800XTPE with 4 other pci graphics card with just plugging in this ATI chipset.

Or am I way out in leftfield with this one?
 

LstBrunnenG

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The PCI bus would be saturated faster than a New York minute. That, and they probably won't be releasing a variant of this chipset that can do AGP.

This is limited to specific IGP/GPU configs, from what Kyle has said.
 

Stoly

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If I'm reading this correctly, what about ATI integrating their chip on a card that can go in a PCI slot say on an old 939 board with just one AGP slot. Since most of these boards have 5 vacant PCI slots would it be possible to then utilize the PCI slots in crossfire with older PCI cards? Or would the narrow bandwith of pci bottleneck it all?

I can imagine using my X800XTPE with 4 other pci graphics card with just plugging in this ATI chipset.

Or am I way out in leftfield with this one?

Even if it was possible, its just not gonna happen.
 

jebo_4jc

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If I'm reading this correctly, what about ATI integrating their chip on a card that can go in a PCI slot say on an old 939 board with just one AGP slot. Since most of these boards have 5 vacant PCI slots would it be possible to then utilize the PCI slots in crossfire with older PCI cards? Or would the narrow bandwith of pci bottleneck it all?

I can imagine using my X800XTPE with 4 other pci graphics card with just plugging in this ATI chipset.

Or am I way out in leftfield with this one?
Interesting idea, but there are a handful of issues.
Like you said, PCI bandwidth is very limited.
Also, I believe the AGP bus is largely one-directional (somebody correct me here), so you couldn't have the two-way communication needed for a dual GPU setup to work.
Lastly, you are in a very small minority when it comes to that situation. AMD would rather see you snatch up a 939 mobo with PCI-e, or better yet, one of these new mobos and an AM2 CPU.
 

swatbat

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Yea this is real interesting as it seems like a good way to get some gaming preformace out of a lower end machine. It would be nice to see someone get a lower end machine and decide they want to play some games on it and have a nice cheap way to make it work. Can't wait.
 
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Super Awesome. Im glad that AMD/ATI are working on some new innovation this will keep competition up and us enthusiasts happy!
 

Trepidati0n

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Kyle,

The concept of "hybrid" CPU's is going to happen. Even in our own industry (aerospace power electronics) we quite often have a generic motorola CPU and a DSP on the same board to provide pretty nucking futz "total performance". We sometimes we even add an FPGA for specialized functions to put the performance at fairly crazy levels.

So my question is, has the [H] thought about how they are going to be testing hybrid systems in the future where you will no longer be able to "decouple" the item being tested? I'm guess I'm more concerned that the big boys are going to start making their "systems" in such a way that mix and match style components will not work out for the enthusiast the way it does today.

As of right now, I view this no different than what the tech world has done in the CRT/LCD arena....
 

Modred189

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So this is VERY interesting for the mom's and pop's out there who buy a mid-level pc for their home, and have a kid grow into gaming while they own it. They can pop minimal $$ for a basic card, CF it, and get decent performance.
HOWEVER, I am very doubtful of the enthusiast possibilities. In the example in the article, the IGP is paired with a low-end dedicated card, which are often not MUCH better than an integrated chipset. I can definitely see where you can get 1.5-1.9X the performance.
But what happens when you pair this setup with a 3850/3870 class card? The respective "horsepower ratio" of the IGP to the dedicated card goes from ~1:1 (or close), to a much more one-sided ratio favoring the dedicated card. If you are using a card with 512 mb of VRAM, and you add the 16 or 32mb of the IGP, will that make any real difference (versus adding the same to a 256 card)? With a higher end GPU on the dedicated card, will adding the extra, much smaller, weaker gpu, make any difference? Seems like a case of EXTREMELY quick diminishing returns as you increase the capabilities of the dedicated card.

I am not 100% familiar with the way Crossfire delegates the work between cards, but it seems to em that the only way that this would work very well is if the IGP was given its OWN set of tasks that the RS780 intelligently assigns according to the capabilities of the inboard card. This, opposed to 'pooling' the work and just having both graphics chipsets working on it all.
Otherwise it seems like with higher end systems, with higher end dedicated cards, the IGP could become a bottleneck instead of a boost.
 

Rob94hawk

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Interesting idea, but there are a handful of issues.
Like you said, PCI bandwidth is very limited.
Also, I believe the AGP bus is largely one-directional (somebody correct me here), so you couldn't have the two-way communication needed for a dual GPU setup to work.
Lastly, you are in a very small minority when it comes to that situation. AMD would rather see you snatch up a 939 mobo with PCI-e, or better yet, one of these new mobos and an AM2 CPU.

What is the PCI bandwidth? 133MB/s? Multiply that by 4 for 532MB/sec....Yeah, nevermind. Sounded good in theory.
 

skadebo

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That is some incredible piece of tech!

These are the kinds of solutions we need to save PC gaming, I think. Most of the time system builders lure people in with nice intel/amd processors, 2GB of ram, and a big display all the while charging anywhere from 600-1500 dollars.

And little Timmy finds out he can't play any games on it because it came with integrated graphics or a geforce 6200, suddenly the ps3 or xbox looks like a much better deal.

This could really take off if AMD configures and markets this properly, and I hope they do.
 

RazorWind

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I wonder if any discussion has gone into offloading physics computation to the onboard GPU. I guess if you're running a $50 graphics card, using that horsepower for graphics makes more sense, but for the enthusiast market, where it's expected to spend $250+ on a graphics card, making a driver that lets you use the built-in GPU to do physics computations would be pretty hot.

I swear I heard talk about ATI looking at something like this a year or so ago, where they were talking about having a crossfire setup where you had a pair of X1900s doing graphics and an X1600 series card doing physics computations.
 

Phrik

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Hmmm...

mATX board + ((IC-GPU + Radeon VGA) * Hybrid Crossfire) + Case Cubes = portable PC for LAN parties

...right ?
 

solotech

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Now that is damn ingenious!
WOW, actual innovation.. I am impressed.

Now, how about a 4 core on board GPU.
 

kllrnohj

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What is the PCI bandwidth? 133MB/s? Multiply that by 4 for 532MB/sec....Yeah, nevermind. Sounded good in theory.

Actually, as I understand it, PCI bandwidth of 133mb/s is shared, so really it would be 133/4 = 33MB/s per card (subtracting even more for anything else on the PCI bus like networking and hard drive I/O)

This Hybrid Crossfire seems really cool for cheap budget builds, I like it.
 
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