ATI CrossFire Technology Showcase

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CrossFire Platform Performance

Due to the fact that CrossFire requires a compatible motherboard based on a 'CrossFire Ready' chipset to function, simply looking at 3D performance is not enough to evaluate the total platform. In the same way that NVIDIA's SLI is a combination of a pair of SLI capable graphics cards and a suitable motherboard, CrossFire is a combo of graphics cards and a compatible motherboard. As such, we thought it would be a good idea to show you how the two platforms compare using a variety of benchmarks.

ATI CrossFire Platform Performance
The Big Picture

For a more complete comparison of how ATI's Radeon Xpress 200 chipset compares to NVIDIA's extremely popular nForce 4, we suggest taking a look at our coverage from late last year.  But for now, here's some up-to-date numbers.

SANDRA CPU Benchmark
A64 FX-55 @ 2.6GHz

SANDRA M.M. Benchmark
A64 FX-55 @ 2.6GHz

SANDRA Memory Benchmark
A64 FX-55 @ 2.6GHz


A64 FX-55 / Xpress 200
1GB RAM / Radeon X850 XT
A64 FX-55 / nForce 4 SLI
1GB RAM / GeForce 6800GT
PCMark05: CPU Test 3705 3762
PCMark05: Memory Test 4520 4548
LAME MP3 Encode 1:31 1:31
Cinebench 2003 72.5 73.2
KribiBench: Sponge Expl. 2.71 2.73
Kribibench: Ultra .74 .74
Doom 3: Low-Res Test 172.4 168.7

Although different graphics cards and motherboards are used, the two platforms are very evenly matched in terms of overall system performance. PCMark05 was a virtual dead-heat, and our custom LAME MP3 Encoding benchmark and KribiBench's Ultra model reported the exact same score for each platform. The rest of the tests are split between CrossFire and nForce 4, but where performance deltas separating each platform are miniscule in every test.

ATI CrossFire Edition Radeon Xpress Chipset
Year Old, but STILL Not Ready For Prime Time?

You're bound to hear some information today about the ATI Radeon Xpress chipset's PCI Express, USB, and Ethernet implementations, and how they potentially suffer from performance crippling bugs. As it stands right now, the SB450 southbridge doesn't have integrated Ethernet, instead a separate PCI Express Ethernet controller is used on boards powered by the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset. The particular implementation and type of controller used will change the performance characteristics from board to board, which has resulted in a lack of consistency when testing Ethernet performance.  So, it's currently unclear if something within the chipset is "broken" and causing sub-par performance. The SB450's USB 2.0 implementation however, currently does not perform as it should.

USB Hard Drive Performance:
Radeon Xpress 200 Crossfire Edition

USB Hard Drive Performance:

We ran a quick test using a USB 2.0 hard drive and SiSoft SANDRA to demonstrate the Radeon Xpress 200's sub-par USB 2.0 performance.  The tests above were performed with a brand new Western Digital USB 2.0/Firewire 120GB hard drive.  The drive was simply plugged into an available USB port, and SANDRA's File System benchmark was run, using the drive as the source. As you can see, the Radeon Xpress 200 board's performance was barely over half of the nForce 4's. Considering how long this issue has been present in the Radeon Xpress 200, a fix is not likely to come via a BIOS or driver update, but rather a new spin of the SB450, or a new southbridge altogether.

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