The HIS Radeon X1950 Pro IceQ3 Turbo
The HIS X1950 Pro IceQ3 Turbo's name has a lot of meaning, so we will need to break it down piece by piece. First, the obvious: the card utilizes the X1950 Pro for its GPU, which is based on the RV570 chipset. The RV570, in turn, is derived from a modified version of the R580 used in other X19x0 cards, including the X1900 GT. This new chip is based on an 80mm process, but has 12 fewer pixel shader units than its predecessor, dropping them from 48 to 36. Vertex Shaders thankfully are not touched, and the clock speeds are typically equivalent between the two. HIS has further pushed the envelope with the Turbo Edition of the X1950 Pro, which increases the core frequency from 575MHz to 635MHz (the sticker on the box actually says 620MHz), and also raises the memory from 1380MHz to 1480MHz (effective).
To support these higher speeds, the X1950 Pro IceQ3 Turbo comes with an oversized heatsink/fan requiring the use of two slots, replacing the slim look of the reference design from ATI. The innovative design of the IceQ3 cooling system draws in air from the inside of the chassis and then exhausts it outside, cooling not only the GPU and RAM, but lowering internal temperatures within the case as well. The fan itself actually resides slightly off the edge of the card, pulling in air from both sides. This should help some when using the cards in a Crossfire setup, where two of the cards would be placed in close proximity to each other.
Heatsinks are isolated from each other, meaning there is no crossover heat transfer from one component to another. Heatpipes rapidly wick heat away from the GPU and memory towards the fan, which then gets dissipated by the airflow through the channels. It's difficult at this point to say whether or not such measures are really needed with the X1950 Pro. While the clock speeds on this card are relatively high, the smaller die fabrication process should result in lower temperatures overall. We also would like to point out that the 7900 GS we will be using for comparison is also running at some high speeds, yet uses a much smaller heatsink and fan combination which doesn't even make contact with the memory.
Also included on the HIS X1950 Pro is a Rage Theater chip which gives it VIVO capabilities that do not come standard with the Radeon X1950 Pro. Combined with HDCP, AVIVO, and dual-link DVI support, the card seems to be a perfect fit for both mid-range gaming and HD video playback. Another key point is the new way CrossFire is being handled. Starting with the X1950 Pro and going forward, CrossFire connections will be made internally, much the same as the way GeForce cards are currently connected in SLI. Gone are "Master" cards - all CrossFire cards will have the compositing functionality built into the GPU. The cards themselves even have two connectors, which may allow for future uses. By daisy chaining them, it might be possible to connect three cards for graphics processing, or possibly even physics processing, but for now two cards and two connectors are required.