The Radeon HD 2900 XT
By now, we're sure many of you are itching to see what the Radeon HD 2900 XT looks like, so without further ado we bring you ATI's latest flagship...
The Radeon HD 2900 XT features a dual-slot cooling solution that covers almost the entire front side of the card. It's built almost completely from copper and features multiple heat-pipes connected to its base plate and heatsink fins. The cooling unit's barrel fan draws air into the shroud, where it is forced through the heatsink and exhausted from the system through vents in the card's mounting plate.
In a stock configuration, the GPU on the Radeon HD 2900 XT is clocked at 743MHz and its 512MB of GDDR3 RAM is clocked at 825MHz (1.66GHz DDR). At these frequencies that card has a theoretical peak pixel processing rate of 47.5 Gigapixels/sec and a peak triangle processing rate of 742M triangles/s. And as we've already mentioned the Radeon HD 2900 XT also has up to 106GB/s of memory bandwidth thanks to its 512-bit memory interface.
Radeon HD 2900 XT cards are outfitted with two supplemental power connectors, one common 6-pin PCI Express connector and one 8-pin PCI Express power connector. The card will function properly with a pair of 6-pin power feeds, but users won't be able to overclock their cards unless an 8-pin feed is connected. This supplemental power connector configuration is necessary because a single Radeon HD 2900 XT can consume upwards of 215 watts.
Like the Radeon X1650 XT and X1950 Pro, cards in the Radeon HD 2000 series have native CrossFire support and don't require an external dongle. Updates to ATI's drivers further enhance CrossFire by eliminating the need for application specific profiles. According to ATI, upcoming Catalyst drivers with default to AFR mode to accelerate an application right out of the gate. But the drivers also have a built-in mechanism to detect whether or not an application is AFR compatible, and if it isn't, a different mode will be used.
Radeon HD 2900 XT cards are equipped with dual, dual-link DVI outputs with HDCP support and cards outfitted with a Theater 200 chip with feature ViVo functionality as well. We'll talk about another new feature a little later that gives cards in the Radeon HD 2000 series the ability to output digital audio over HDMI though the use of a special adapter.
We'd also like to note that ATI's board partner, Sapphire is ready in time for launch with their standard Radeon HD 2900 XT card. In fact, we used Sapphire's model for all of our single-GPU benchmarks. Their Radeon HD 2900 XT includes the Valve Black Box game-pack voucher we talked about earlier, in addition to 3DMark06, PowerDVD and PowerDirector, and a drive / utility CD. There was also a user's manual in the box, along with a ViVo connector, a pair of DVI to VGA adapters, a DVI to HDMI adapter, a CrossFire bridge connector, and an HD component output dongle.
The bigger news coming out of Sapphire today, however, is about their upcoming Toxic Radeon HD 2900 XT. Sapphire's Toxic Radeon HD 2900 XT features a self-contained water cooling unit that mounts in two 5.25" drive bays. Toxic cards will be clocked higher than standard cards and be equipped with 1GB of frame buffer memory. The water cooling unit is setup to accommodate a pair of cards operating in a CrossFire configuration and can also work with a CPU water block to cool a processor as well. The Toxic Radeon HD 2900 XT won't be available until after Computex next month. We hope to bring you a more detailed look at this card when it becomes available.