Feeds
75%

AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 dual-GPU graphics card

Do two GPUs equal double the value?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Review Everything about the Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics card is big, including the model name, so we’re going to stick to calling it the X2 here.

The principle behind the X2 is simple enough. AMD's ATI Radeon HD 3870 is a decent graphics card but it's having a job competing with Nvidia's GeForce 8800 family, which is the reason why it was priced at just £150. So how do you increase the performance of the HD 3870? That's easy - you gang up two of them in CrossFire. But what if you don’t want to stuff your PC case with two double-slot graphics cards?

Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2

Sapphire's ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2: one board, two GPUs

The answer is CrossFire on a single graphics card, and here’s the AMD recipe for success. Take two HD 3870 chips - reviewed here - and two batches of 512MB of GDDR 3 memory. Add a PCI Express 1.1 bridge chip, mix the whole lot together on a 263mm-long graphics card and - bingo - you’ve got the X2.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the specification of the X2 bears an uncanny resemblance to a pair of HD 3870s while the appearance is very much like a 3870 with an extra couple of inches tacked on the length. While Sapphire’s first take on the X2 is a reference design, Asus has done something that is most unusual by producing an X2 with four DVI ports.

The X2's GPUs are made using the same 55nm production process as the HD 3870, and they support DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1, and have 320 Stream Processors in each chip. That’s 640 Stream Processors in total with a transistor count that has climbed past 1.3 billion. Each GPU has 512MB of GDDR 3 memory to itself, connected to its own 256-bit controller, so there’s 1GB in total.

The card is longer than a regular HD 3870 board, but it looks very similar and has the same beefy heatsink along the full length of the card, with a dust-buster fan at the far end that draws cooling air from inside your PC case. The air is blown through the heatsink and exhausts through the vented bracket to the outside world.

The core speed of the X2 has been increased from the HD 3870's 775MHz to 825MHz, while the memory speed has decreased from 2250MHz to 1800MHz. The memory controller supports both GDDR 3 and GDDR 4 so it would be no surprise if a graphics card manufacturer was to come up with an X2 with 2GB of fast memory. Whether it would make any sense is a completely different question.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.