Since this is a short article confirming that software CrossFire is viable, I only performed synthetic testing using 3DMark05 and 3DMark06 at a couple of resolutions. I also wanted to use two cards that were different, but they are of the same family so rendering pipelines will still be the same. Let's take a closer look at the test system.
Gigabyte 965P-DS4 motherboard (Supplied by Gigabyte)
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor
2x 1024MB Corsair XMS2-8500-C5 memory (Supplied by Corsair)
GeCube X1900XTX graphics (Supplied by GeCube)
Sapphire X1900XT graphics (Supplied by Sapphire)
Corsair HX620W power supply (Supplied by Corsair)
Western Digital 250GB SATA hard drive
Sony 52x CD-ROM optical drive
Samsung 16x DVD-R optical drive
Even though the two graphics boards are different and from different manufacturers, they were both detected properly by Windows and the CrossFire setup went without a hitch. I ran the two benchmarking utilities with just the X1900XTX board, then added the Sapphire board and tested again.
As I mentioned above, this isn't designed to be a full and formal testing of the new drivers, so I did this series of testing on an LCD monitor so my resolutions were limited to 1280x1024, the native resolution of the display.
While there was a noticeable improvement at the lower resolution, there was a significant increase in performance at the higher resolution. To grind up the numbers, the CrossFire system produced a 12.6% and 11.2% performance increase under 3DMark05, but boasted a very nice 33.9% and 30.5% increase under 3DMark06. The 3DMark06 utility has been noted in the past as being more graphics driven than previous revisions, so this bodes quite well for this new driver set from ATI.
This new method of using CrossFire isn't perfect, but for those who happen to have a spare video card gathering dust who have been interested in playing with the ATI version of multiple graphics processors, this is a huge improvement from having to look for (and likely never finding) a Master Card that is compatible with your graphics board.
ATI has made great strides with their latest driver revision and I look forward to seeing even more improvements in the future.
Good job guys!
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