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Screw SLI, when do we get this in our Macs...?!?

post #1 of 162
Thread Starter 
Just surfing over to the ATi website, and I ran across this...

http://ati.com/technology/crossfire/...ePaperweb2.pdf

Comments?

Possibility of a FireGL CrossFire solution?

You know, for when we finally get Pro OpenGL cards on the new Intel Powermac workstations...

;^p
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post #2 of 162
One of the reasons I bought a 3Dfx Voodoo 5500. Dual processors... SWEET! 8)

I wouldn't mind a Dual processor X800 AGP or PCI-X card for my G5.

Not a fan of shared memory though. I would like 128MB soldered on the card with maybe an open RAM slot for user-upgradable DDR RAM (up to 1GB or something).
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post #3 of 162
The ATI solution is better because it is backward compatible and everything receives some performance boost?

SLI and Crossfire haven't reached the mainstream yet. And the performance boost I've seen on the Wintel side doesn't seem to justify the expense of motherboard, two expensive cards for improvements on 'some games' and an extra 10 fps or so on non-optimised games.

With ATI and Nvidia more commited to performance with dual cards or gpus then...hopefully...it will become mainstream in the next couple of years...and that software will take advantage of it.

At the moment we off optimisation for dual core cpus and gpus...

Seems a bit hit and miss...

Lemon Bon Bon

PS. So, if you buy a master 'Crossfire' card, you can just piggy back a card on top? Does this need a supportive motherboard? AKA SLI? Or is this where ATi's solution is different. ie we wouldn't need Apple to support it. Because I don't see them supporting SLI, before or after the Intel transition...
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post #4 of 162
SLI has never seemed like a viably mainstream technology.

It simply isn't the most cost effective way produce machines at the mainstream price/performance level. If users need more power, it is cheapest to do it via a single interconnect and board. If the the single board is too slow, it's still cheaper to upgrade the interface in the next generation of machines.

We could be running dual board mother boards... or even dual board sound or networking cards. The reason we don't is that it would be more expensive.

There are computers which do use multiple motherboards etc and
SLI definately has a place. However, it only truly makes sense when you need more than the average ammount of GPU power. If the average consumer could use the performance provided by SLI, card manufacturers will simply make a faster single board. It's cheaper for them and their customers.
post #5 of 162
Thread Starter 
Ebby: Read the pdf, it will explain the memory usage...

Lemon Bon Bon: Read the pdf, it will explain the main logic board requirements...

dfiler: Read my original post. It is fairly obvious I am talking about using this tech from a Pro apps standpoint...

Anyone else, please read the pdf fully before commenting... It seems that most folks are just skimming over really quickly (oh, pretty pictures!) and posting from the hip...

;^p
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post #6 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by MacRonin
Ebby: Read the pdf, it will explain the memory usage...

Lemon Bon Bon: Read the pdf, it will explain the main logic board requirements...

dfiler: Read my original post. It is fairly obvious I am talking about using this tech from a Pro apps standpoint...

Anyone else, please read the pdf fully before commenting... It seems that most folks are just skimming over really quickly (oh, pretty pictures!) and posting from the hip...

;^p

Somehow, I don't think your points are furthered by ordering everyone around and then arrogantly dissmissing their thoughts.

(For the record, my previous post was a reply to the post directly above it, not your post. Not everything is about you... well, unless you succeed in ticking everyone off.)
post #7 of 162
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by dfiler
Somehow, I don't think your points are furthered by ordering everyone around and then arrogantly dissmissing their thoughts.

(For the record, my previous post was a reply to the post directly above it, not your post. Not everything is about you... well, unless you succeed in ticking everyone off.)

I would only "arrogantly dissmiss their thoughts" when it is painfully obvious that the pdf was not fully read and comprehended...

And everything is not about me, but rather everything is about proper absorbtion of information... Sadly, most these days tend to skim and spout off from there... Rather than taking time to fully ingest and assimilate provided information...

So, am I succeeding in ticking you off...?!?

;^p
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post #8 of 162
I did read the PDF and although I worded my post wrong, my argument still stands. I would want the bulk of the memory directly on the cards themselves, and not on the other end of the north bridge. (Thereby reducing bandwidth use and requirements) I do understand the need for shared memory between GPU's but that should be the only thing not on the card. (In my previous post I used the term "shared memory" as that which belongs to the computer and allocated to the GPU.)

Anyways, no hostility here. 8)
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post #9 of 162
All it really looked like to me SLI with a few new rendering tricks. SLI does the every other image render. So does the ATI version. It's obvious where they got the idea, and see the need to be competitive with SLI. All the different new type of renders are pretty cool as well. It looks almost like they are doing a box render from every other processor in each frame, or switching boxes between processors on each frame in one of the new types. But it isn't.
Needless to say I doubt Nvidia has fallen asleep. Their Dual card rendering development is most definitely still an active focus for them. I'm sure there will be an SLI 2 soon enough.

Although unless Apple gets with the program, and finds a way for the intel Macs to use every standard PC graphics card. (excluding drivers I guess (maybe a driver rosette) ) then Mac users are still going to suffer by being out of the performance loop when it comes to graphics.
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post #10 of 162
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ebby
I did read the PDF and although I worded my post wrong, my argument still stands. I would want the bulk of the memory directly on the cards themselves, and not on the other end of the north bridge. (Thereby reducing bandwidth use and requirements) I do understand the need for shared memory between GPU's but that should be the only thing not on the card. (In my previous post I used the term "shared memory" as that which belongs to the computer and allocated to the GPU.)

Anyways, no hostility here. 8)

The division of memory in the ATi CrossFire set-up is tha same in any AGP/PCI-Express rig... Memory on the cards, and a path to memory sectioned out from the main system memory pool... Nothing new here...

Not meaning any hostilities here either, just being my usual brutally honest self... Never anything personal...

Cheers!
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post #11 of 162
That is a very deceptive picture in that PDF for someone that doesn't know much about graphic cards. On one hand, it appears all the memory information is shown to pass through the north bridge, but on the other hand the hard wired RAM on the cards may not be included in that diagram. I'm sure the developers thought long and hard about this, but from the picture, it looks like there is a potential bottleneck in the north bridge. (Use of more colors would be helpful)

Perhaps cached instructions and resources are stored in the Computer/GPU memory and the actual image information resides on the card. But now I am asking technical questions that this PDF can't answer.
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post #12 of 162
You still need two graphics ports on the mainboard.

While this does give better than nvidias - U HAVE TWO CARDS OR DIE!!! solution, I have to wonder which gives better performance. Will be interesting to see some benchmarks.

But the most popular ATI card is STILL the Radeon 9800 Pro, becuase it is simply no worse than the newer X800 and things. You lose any possible performance gain elsewhere in the system. The 9800 is a AGP card, which means your backward compatiability only stretches so far.
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post #13 of 162
The interesting thing about CrossFire is the interboard connecting cable on the DVI port. There is a nutshell of something simple there: just connect the two boards with a cable.
post #14 of 162
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Quote:
Originally posted by cubist
The interesting thing about CrossFire is the interboard connecting cable on the DVI port. There is a nutshell of something simple there: just connect the two boards with a cable.

Cost cutting measure or or for "backwards compatability", I don't know...

But it makes every X800/X850 board capable of being transformed into a CrossFire rig...

The question now is this, can I run dual monitors off of this setup?

Like an Apple 30" ACD & a Wacom 21" Cintiq...

Make for a sweet DCC setup!

Just wonder how dual monitors affects the performance, and would have the same query with the nVidia SLI setup...
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post #15 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by pyriX
.....
While this does give better than nvidias - U HAVE TWO CARDS OR DIE!!! solution.....

what the hell are you talking about? i have one nvidia card running in my Asus SLI rig. it's sweet

some games show definite improvements with SLI. in 6 months, should there be enough of a match between games that can take advantage of SLI and games i'm likely to get into, then i can pop in the same model of my nvidia card, albeit, much cheaper now since it's 6-months down the line, so i could get almost double the GPU power for guess what... half the price of my original GPU

well, that's my gamble on the SLI deal.

or maybe, i'll just buy two nvidia 7800 GTs just to get some stupidly high 3dmark2005 score, umm... for the sake of... getting a stupidly high 3dmark05 score...
post #16 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by sunilraman
what the hell are you talking about? i have one nvidia card running in my Asus SLI rig. it's sweet

some games show definite improvements with SLI. in 6 months, should there be enough of a match between games that can take advantage of SLI and games i'm likely to get into, then i can pop in the same model of my nvidia card, albeit, much cheaper now since it's 6-months down the line, so i could get almost double the GPU power for guess what... half the price of my original GPU

well, that's my gamble on the SLI deal.

or maybe, i'll just buy two nvidia 7800 GTs just to get some stupidly high 3dmark2005 score, umm... for the sake of... getting a stupidly high 3dmark05 score...

Meant you had to have two IDIENTICAL cards at the same time to get SLIdge. Sorry, probably wasn't clear on that. The more I look at my posts, the more gramitcally non gramatical they come.
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post #17 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by pyriX


While this does give better than nvidias - U HAVE TWO CARDS OR DIE!!! solution, I have to wonder which gives better performance. Will be interesting to see some benchmarks.


If your computer has an SLI equipt motherboard you don't need two cards. You do if you want to use SLI, but it is very deceptive to say "U HAVE TWO CARDS OR DIE!!! solution" when that is not the case.
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post #18 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by onlooker
If your computer has an SLI equipt motherboard you don't need two cards. You do if you want to use SLI, but it is very deceptive to say "U HAVE TWO CARDS OR DIE!!! solution" when that is not the case.

I corrected that above your post.
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post #19 of 162
I would like to point out that SLI motherboards aren't expensive any more. For instance, you can grab a gigabyte SLI socket 939 NForce 4 ultra motherboard from newegg for around 110. Thats nothing compared to what they used to be ($200+). Also graphics cards have (pci-e) come way down in price as well. I'm almost considering purchasing that motherboard with 2 6600gts. But as stated above you just don't get the performance benefit as you could with purchasing better cards. I still feel crossfire and SLI are for bragging rights more than anything. A dual 6800gt SLI setup did not impress me. I'd rather have 1 6800gt for half the cost and lose a few seconds during renderings.

 

 

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post #20 of 162
Also, I still feel dual core graphics cards are the future. Onlooker doesn't agree with me on this one. Gigabyte did a great job throwing together a dual core 6600. The thing flys! The downside (if you can call it that) is it requires a certain motherboard at this time. It makes a lot more sense to have 2 cores on 1 card than 2 seperate cores..... just like processors.SLI isn't appealing to me for a few reasons... but mainly because it takes up too much space and doubles your heat distribution from GPAs. Some of these modern GPUs are running extremely hot. My AOpen 6600gt burned out from a slight overclock in memory frequency. I used to be able to grab a lot ouf of cards. They are just being pushed to the limits now days. I threw another fan on the AOpen and was able to grab 150mhz more with the 2nd card.

Point is... room and heat can really kill a system. For the average person... i don't see this to be very appealing. For huge rendering farms...... I can see a slight advantage.

 

 

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post #21 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by emig647
Also, I still feel dual core graphics cards are the future. Onlooker doesn't agree with me on this one. Gigabyte did a great job throwing together a dual core 6600. The thing flys! The downside (if you can call it that) is it requires a certain motherboard at this time. It makes a lot more sense to have 2 cores on 1 card than 2 seperate cores..... just like processors.SLI isn't appealing to me for a few reasons... but mainly because it takes up too much space and doubles your heat distribution from GPAs. Some of these modern GPUs are running extremely hot. My AOpen 6600gt burned out from a slight overclock in memory frequency. I used to be able to grab a lot ouf of cards. They are just being pushed to the limits now days. I threw another fan on the AOpen and was able to grab 150mhz more with the 2nd card.

Point is... room and heat can really kill a system. For the average person... i don't see this to be very appealing. For huge rendering farms...... I can see a slight advantage.

I agree - Many people (myself included) just use 9800pro's, as there is no percievable performance difference between that and dual 7800XT's. Well, maybe there is, but the point is, that for most people running average systems, there is no gain.

AND, I'm yet to see a 7800XT work on an nforce3 motherboard.
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post #22 of 162
Quote:
But as stated above you just don't get the performance benefit as you could with purchasing better cards. I still feel crossfire and SLI are for bragging rights more than anything. A dual 6800gt SLI setup did not impress me. I'd rather have 1 6800gt for half the cost and lose a few seconds during renderings.

Well, it depends on games that take advantage of it. And right now, on many of the benches, it's hard to justify an extra 10 fps.

SLI boards are cheaper now. So buy one. Buy the card you can afford. 6800GT or 7800GT being good bets. And when you need a boost, buy the 2nd card in 6 months time or so.

To get the ulimate use out of SLI, we're going to have to see games houses, the next wave' of games...programmed for it, for dual-core cpus. Even the 'fastest' cpus can't push the cards hard enough now. And with mhz all stalled out...now what the gamers going to do? What are the software developers going to do? That used to rely on Intel making faster chips. But they aren't going to do that anymore. Intel are making chips do more work per clock and slower speeds in the future.

They're going to have to a bit more clever to wring out speed out of Dual Core and PCI-Express.

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post #23 of 162
It will be interesting to see how a game on the Unreal 3 engine is programmed.

It will maybe need a powerful 2006 gpu...but will Intel's 2006 cpus be able to 'push it'?

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post #24 of 162
I fail to see how one can justify spending 800+ to get a complete SLI system (or $600 if u just want one card) when many people are entirely happy playing on an AMD Athlon XP 2200+, an 80gig hard drive and a 9600XT.

The above is the system configuration of bussiness which is very succesful - you give them 12 dollars, they give you a computer for three hours.

Those computers would probably cost $1000 or less.

Another example is Microsofts $300 XBox - it has a PIII 800mhz and a Geforce 4 - the whole thing having a grand total of 64mb of memory. Dont throw that crap at me that its optimised, becuase optimised as it may be, it doesnt have a dual core proccessor and two really, really high end graphics cards, with probably a gig or so of ram, not including GRAM.

All prices are in AUD.

That said, I'm sure some pretty graphs will satisfy enough to go and waste hard earned cash.

If PCI-E and SLIdge are so important, someone please tell me why AGP graphics cards still represent 70% of the market?
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post #25 of 162
The interesting thing about SLI is that even with buying a new/second card, it still doesn't make sense for the bulk of consumers. For wealthy gamers and a few specialized professionals, it is an excellent way to get increased performance without footing the bill for a rare/high-end graphics card.

However, for most consumers, the single card is almost always more reasonable. If large numbers of people plan on doubling up soon after their initial purchase, companies would realize this and offer that level of performance via a single card. If waiting until long after the purchase of their first card, consumers will typically find that a single new card is cheaper and faster than two old ones. Don't forget to figure in how much extra they had to pay for the SLI board initially.

SLI is inherently unsuitable as a mainstream technology. It is prefectly suited to high-end pro or luxury uses.

I think the best analogy is this. Even though dual processor computers are fairly common, you never see dual mother board machines in the consumer market. If dual MB machines were selling at high volumes, the same performance would be much more cheaply mass produced on a single board.
post #26 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by emig647
Also, I still feel dual core graphics cards are the future. Onlooker doesn't agree with me on this one. Gigabyte did a great job throwing together a dual core 6600. The thing flys! The downside (if you can call it that) is it requires a certain motherboard at this time. It makes a lot more sense to have 2 cores on 1 card than 2 seperate cores..... just like processors.SLI isn't appealing to me for a few reasons... but mainly because it takes up too much space and doubles your heat distribution from GPAs. Some of these modern GPUs are running extremely hot. My AOpen 6600gt burned out from a slight overclock in memory frequency. I used to be able to grab a lot ouf of cards. They are just being pushed to the limits now days. I threw another fan on the AOpen and was able to grab 150mhz more with the 2nd card.

Point is... room and heat can really kill a system. For the average person... i don't see this to be very appealing. For huge rendering farms...... I can see a slight advantage.

It's not that I don't agree with you it's that you just don't get it.

If you put dual cores, or dual processors on a single card you can always just put two of that card in an SLI configuration. With SLI I can have 2x2 of the card your speaking of regardless. So it's more on how much you need the speed for what you do, and that I can always use more doing what I do.

What makes more sense is to buy what you need, and let those who need more use more. Because your solution I can always double up on it if I need it with SLI.
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post #27 of 162
It doesn't matter, Apple won't have enough slots to allow 2 double-slotted video cards anyway.

I think a far better solution would be to have 2 GPU's on a 12 inch card.. or maybe a dual core GPU.. or maybe just more vram

They talk about cost/performance.. well I think it'd be cheaper to have 1 card with twice the power than than 2.

I'm also wondering if games have to be coded to multi-thread GPU operations to take advantage of SLI.

As far as SLI Vs. Crossfire... well it'd seem to make logical sense that SLI would be better because the cabling is on the INSIDE of the case (see page 5).

Maybe one company will figure out how to have 2 cards in there but have 1 pipe all its operations through the others' bus--eliminating the need for a specialized motherboard and maybe even use of an extra slot.

Finally, I'd like to point out the part of the PDF where it says "CrossFire is an exciting new technology developed by ATi that allows the power of multiple GPU's to be combined in a single system."

Anyone else see this as fallacious?? Even 3Dfx had this.
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post #28 of 162
I don't see why it wouldn't be possible some time in the future. When more cards make the PCI-E migration all the slots will be PCI-E. And if Apple does use PCI-E eventually we should have SLI in a PowerMac some time. But for optimum performance in SLI you need 2 - 16x PCI-E slots, and that is another story.
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post #29 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by slughead
It doesn't matter, Apple won't have enough slots to allow 2 double-slotted video cards anyway.

I think a far better solution would be to have 2 GPU's on a 12 inch card.. or maybe a dual core GPU.. or maybe just more vram

They talk about cost/performance.. well I think it'd be cheaper to have 1 card with twice the power than than 2.

I'm also wondering if games have to be coded to multi-thread GPU operations to take advantage of SLI.

As far as SLI Vs. Crossfire... well it'd seem to make logical sense that SLI would be better because the cabling is on the INSIDE of the case (see page 5).

Maybe one company will figure out how to have 2 cards in there but have 1 pipe all its operations through the others' bus--eliminating the need for a specialized motherboard and maybe even use of an extra slot.

Finally, I'd like to point out the part of the PDF where it says "CrossFire is an exciting new technology developed by ATi that allows the power of multiple GPU's to be combined in a single system."

Anyone else see this as fallacious?? Even 3Dfx had this.

More and more cards are single slot now days. But every SLI configuration I"ve seen requires something in between the cards (like another slot (pci-e x1 or pci-x or just pci). I suppose NVidia decided to make it this way so you could use SLI with double slot cards. Well now most cards are single slot again. So not having enough slots isn't a great argument any more.

 

 

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post #30 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by emig647
More and more cards are single slot now days. But every SLI configuration I"ve seen requires something in between the cards (like another slot (pci-e x1 or pci-x or just pci). I suppose NVidia decided to make it this way so you could use SLI with double slot cards. Well now most cards are single slot again. So not having enough slots isn't a great argument any more.

Fair enough, however I still don't think Apple would do it, simply because they seem to really hate having a lot of slots in their powermacs (yes, I'm still fuming over my 4 slotted DP2.5G5, minus 1 because I have the 6800U)

We'll see though. If they're smart, they'll use standard high-end Intel Mobos which have 2 PCI-Ex slots in there.. but if they want to get on their whole "form over function" kick, then I expect the computers will be more expensive and have fewer slots.
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post #31 of 162
SLI is a dirty hack of a substitute for having the logic of two cards on a single board.
post #32 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by Placebo
SLI is a dirty hack of a substitute for having the logic of two cards on a single board.

heh. just like dual-g5s is a dirty hack of a substitute for having the logic of two cores on a single CPU die
post #33 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by Placebo
SLI is a dirty hack of a substitute for having the logic of two cards on a single board.

ignorance.
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post #34 of 162
Thread Starter 
And when dual GPU cards have better availability, there will still be folks wanting to SLI two of them together...

The more power available, the more people will want...
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post #35 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by MacRonin
And when dual GPU cards have better availability, there will still be folks wanting to SLI two of them together...

The more power available, the more people will want...

This "crossfire" thing offers scalabilty without buying much new hardware.. I wonder how expensive it'll be..
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post #36 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by slughead
This "crossfire" thing offers scalabilty without buying much new hardware.. I wonder how expensive it'll be..

I think that is what ATI is trying to capitalize on; is that you can add the crossfire card to almost any card, and get a substantial increase in performance. And you also don't need a special mobo to use it. Those who need the most performance possible will still go with a SLI, or a 2nd generation SLI I imagine, but The ATI version is probably more appealing to the majority of people being that only a couple fields really can capitalize on SLI as we now know it. I'm still curious to see what Nvidia has for a second generation of SLI technology.
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post #37 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by onlooker
ignorance.

Would you rather have a sizzling graphics card, or two fast ones with 50% or more knocked off of the overall performance?
post #38 of 162
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by onlooker
I think that is what ATI is trying to capitalize on; is that you can add the crossfire card to almost any card, and get a substantial increase in performance. And you also don't need a special mobo to use it. Those who need the most performance possible will still go with a SLI, or a 2nd generation SLI I imagine, but The ATI version is probably more appealing to the majority of people being that only a couple fields really can capitalize on SLI as we now know it. I'm still curious to see what Nvidia has for a second generation of SLI technology.

Actually, you need a Main Logic Board with two (2) 16x PCI-Express slots...

Curious question on the CrossFire side though... Over on the xlr8yourmac.com forums there was some posts from either an ATi insider or employee about stringing together multiple (yes, more than 2) ATi cards to boost graphics performance...

It was quite some time ago (6+ months) that I saw this, so as for the actual posts, start looking!
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post #39 of 162
Quote:
Originally posted by MacRonin
Actually, you need a Main Logic Board with two (2) 16x PCI-Express slots...

You need that for crossfire too? I didn't realize that. Then I would definitely go with SLI.

Quote:
Originally posted by Placebo
Would you rather have a sizzling graphics card, or two fast ones with 50% or more knocked off of the overall performance?

I would rather have two quadro's with double the performance of one. Thank you.
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post #40 of 162
Thread Starter 
Upon further inspection, it appears that both the nVidia SLI & ATi CrossFire solutions require MLBs that either run one PCI-Express slot in 16x mode, or split said slot and redirect eight channels to the second "16x" PCI-Express slot...

Damn it! I want both of my 16x slots running at 16x!

And I now want, no, demand! that my pair of OpenGL cards have dual GPUs also!

Power, power, power!

Will it never end?!?

Don't you just love how we bitch about the shortcomings of hardware that isn't even available on our platform (non-existant Intel-based Mac OS X workstation) yet...

And give me some of those quad-core Whitefield CPUs, thanks...
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