Creating the Juggernaut - ATI Radeon HD 5870 CrossFireX Analysis

The Apex of Graphics Performance

The Apex of Graphics Performance

ATI has just launched the Radeon 5800 series to mostly positive reception. With no serious competition in sight from NVIDIA till possibly early next year, the onslaught from the red team is just beginning. We've received word that the 5700 series (known as Juniper) is being prepped for release as we speak and we'll be bringing you its performance numbers really soon.

We've already established the new Radeon HD 5870 as the world's fastest single GPU. The chip, codenamed "Cypress XT", boasts a mind boggling 2.15 billion transistors and 1600 stream processors running at 850MHz, which is then further aided by 1GB of super-quick GDDR5 memory running at 4.4GHz DDR, making it a bona fide juggernaut amongst graphics cards.

On the horizon too is ATI's dual-GPU giant, the Radeon HD 5870 X2, otherwise known as Hemlock. The 5870 X2 model will follow in the tradition of the 4870 X2 and the 3870 X2, by combining two Radeon HD 5870 GPUs on a single PCB. With it, ATI hopes to reclaim the title of the world's fastest single graphics card from NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 295.

Sadly, the Hemlock is not with us yet today, but we will attempt to simulate one by having two Radeon HD 5870 cards in CrossFireX configuration - courtesy of ASUS and PowerColor whose cards and bundle information are highlighted in the following page. We expect performance to improve of course with two of these monster cards, but also equally important is the amount of scaling going from one to two GPUs, the power consumption figures and thermal considerations, if any.

Two Radeon HD 5870 equals 4.3 million transistors, 3200 stream processors, 2GB of GDDR5 memory and over 5.5 teraFLOPS of computing power. Are you ready?

Additionally, we'll be doing our tests a little differently this time. What we will do is to run our usual benchmarks benchmarks on two setups, one of which is our older Intel X38 system and another with a Core i7 on an Intel X58 motherboard.

Given the tremendous graphics crunching power of the Radeon HD 5870, we are curious to see if our older Intel X38 system is capable of keeping up with the cards, or if you'll need an equally high-end system to enjoy the full performance of two Radeon HD 5870 cards. After all, we've already established in our previous review that dual Radeon HD 4890 cards or a GTX 295 poses no performance penalty when run on our current Intel X38 based graphics testbed, so it will be interesting to see the differences this time round.

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