Guru 3D Crossfire Users Guide

Discussion in 'Videocards - AMD Radeon' started by MikeMK, May 1, 2006.

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  1. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    ***Please note this is a work in progress, and more will be added***

    About 18 months ago, I was one of the few people lucky enough to jump on the SLI train. At the time details about SLI were very sketchy and there were alot of misconceptions about an immature technology.

    Over a year later, and ATI finally have a working, widely available Multi-GPU technology. As I seem to like a challenge (or just a glutten for punishment!) and the new X1900 series had impressed me I thought it was time for a change. However, just as with SLI when I first adopted it, there is a very unsubstatial amount of information and user experience on Crossfire.... So... here we have, Guru 3D's Crossfire User Guide:

    How it Works

    ATI's Crossfire Differs in a number of ways from Nvidias SLI Solution. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

    1) Mastercards:
    The first thing you will notice, is that no ATI cards have the 'tooth' that SLI enabled nvida cards have. This is because Crossfire compiles image's in a different way to SLI. Firstly, you will need a Mastercard and an ordinary (slave) card in order to enable crossfire. The Mastercard has a compositing chip on it that combines the images from the two cards and outputs it to your monitor. Rather than the PCB to PCB connector you see in SLI, Crossfire uses a special Cable that you get when you purchase a mastercard. This utilises a Dual DVI link on X1900 cards. (More on X800 series below).

    [​IMG]

    The only external difference you will notice between the Slave and Mastercard, is the different port for the Crossfire cable that replaces the Second DVI port.

    [​IMG]

    This method, seems to work reasonably well, although there have been reports of issues using DVI-->Analog converters with the cable, as well as poor quality cables needing replacement due to image corruption. I havnt experienced any of these issues, but just so you are aware!
    Also, make sure you screw the mastercard end of the cable in tight, to ensure good contact. Its a bit of a pain when wanting to remove the cards quickly but its better to be sure.
    The other thing to be aware of with Mastercards, is that there isnt a mastercard for every standard card that ATI makes. To use the X1900 series as an example there is NO X1900XTX mastercard, only an X1900XT mastercard.
    This means that if you are planning on running crossfire you are best to buy a standard card that matches the specs of the Mastercard. Buying a card alot slower, would waste the power (power that you are paying extra for remember) of the mastercard, and vice-versa when buying a card faster than the mastercard.
    One point of confusion though. When running a faster standard card with a slower master card (EG an XTX with a X1900 mastercard) unlike SLI, the faster card Is not downclocked but will continue running at its rated speeds. Do not get too excited by this, because it could well be the case that the faster card may finish a its frame (or portion of a frame) before the slower one and have to waste clock cylces waiting for it to catch up. So whether there is any noticable difference is debatable.

    2) Rendering Modes & Profiles

    Just as with SLI, there are various different rendering modes available, which crossfire uses to combing the power of two GPU's when rendering a frame. These are as follows:

    AFR - Alternate frame rendering. This is just the same as on an SLI system. Basically all odd frames are rendered by one GPU and all even frames rendered by the other GPU.

    Scissor Mode - This is ATI's equivalent to SFR (Split Frame Rendering) with SLI, and does essentially the same thing. The the top portion of the frame is rendered by one card, and the bottom by the other. This isnt a 50 50 split, but is measured 'on the fly' so, say sky doesnt need as much power to render, so the card doing this may do 60 or 65% of the frame, and the card rendering the bottom half, (the more detailed floor) would do 35%

    Supertiling - This rendering mode is unique to Crossfire. Basically a frame is split into a checker board pattern like this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]*

    Here you can see that the mastercard renders all the red squares, while the slave renders all the blue ones. The two sets of 'squares' are then combined and output to the moniter by the Mastercards compositing chip. The idea of Supertiling is to distribute the workload of a frame more efficiently between the two GPU's, as portions of frames can vary significantly in the amount of processing power they require. This is a similar logic to the reason that Scissor Mode doesnt split a frame 50/50 between the two cards.

    *Thanks to Hothardware for the above images. Check HERE for their full introduction to Crossfire.

    Super AA Modes - In a similar fashion to SLI 8x and 16x AA mode's Crossfire offers advanced AA modes for those people who either have to run at medium rather than high resolutions, or want to run an older game and still make use of the additional performance Crossfire can give through improving image quality. Crossfire offers 8x, 10x, 12x and 14xAA in Crossfire mode. It is worth noting, that ATI actually announced support for advanced AA modes before nvidia, but in the time it took for crossfire to come to market, Nvidia had developed and implimented their own version for SLI. ATI's super AA modes are actually a combination of Multi Sampling and Super Sampling AA. Just like SLI, both cards render the same frame, but sample different points within that frame. The two versions of that frame are then combined, and the image is output with all AA samples applied.

    Profiles... Or the lack of them!
    At the launch of crossfire, ATI made a big thing of the fact that all games could benifit from crossfire 'out of the box' without any need for profiles within the drivers, unlike SLI. By default, all Open GL games will use AFR, while supertiling will be enabled for Direct 3d games, unless a driver profile states otherwise. Notice the catch their? Yes, ATI drivers still use profiles in some form - often to designate the most efficient way of rendering a specific title. It could quite possibly be the case that you buy a new game, and there is no profile within the drivers for this game. Say its a D3D game, and it defaults to Supertiling mode. This may not be the most efficient mode for this title and so performance increase could vary. In this situation you will have to wait for a new driver set (or patch, such as the chuck patch for Oblivion which enabled AFR support) to add the profile you need. At the end of the day, the situation is marginally better than SLI, because at least there is some kind of multi GPU support without a profile, but SLI supports so many games within its profile system now that its not a worry.
    ***As of the 6.7 Catalysts, ATI have enabled the abilty to force AFR in a game that doesnt have a profile, much like in Nvidias CP. I will post further details when I have investigated it further***

    The Options and (re)Incarnations

    Crossfire had a rather protracted birth of a long time promised technology that had trouble entering the market place. For that reason there are various different options to consider, or not as the case may be! Here is an idea of the Hardware worth considering for your Crossfire setup.

    X800 Series Crossfire

    This was the long promised and never really delivered original crossfire solution that was meant to compete with 6800 series SLI. However, it was not available (and only in limited quan****es) until the 7800 series was well and truely in full flow. Not only that, when it appeared X800 crossfire had some pretty serious limitations. For example, the composite chip on the mastercard was only able to output resolutions up to 1600x1200 @ 60hz, which completely removed crossfire as an option for ultra high resolution gaming, and those with 1600x1200 CRT's would have to deal with a headache inducing 60hz maximum refresh rate.
    Not only this, but X800 series crossfire produced below par performance/compatibility, and had various bugs. I really would not recommend considering this as an option even if you are able to source a X800 series mastercard. However, if you really must get an idea of what all the fuss was about, you can find more details HERE and HERE

    X1800 & X1900 Series Crossfire

    With the arrival of the X1800 series, the limit on Crossfires resolution was removed, due to a move to dual Link DVI and an upgraded compositing chip. Along with the vastly increased performance of both the X1800 and X1900 series over the X800 series, it made Crossfire a much more likely competitor to 7 Series SLI.
    There are other advantages being talked about, such as the introduction of mastercard-less X1800 series crossfire in a future driver update. X1600 series crossfire can already be enabled without a mastercard or crossfire cable if you are in need of a midrange solution. All this enhances Crossfires appeal.
    In many tests now X1900 series Crossfire is proving to be the performance leader where mutli-GPU systems are concerned.
    Your can find more details on X1800 series crossfire HERE, HERE and HERE and dont forget GURU 3D's take either!
    You can find details on X1900 series crossfire as part of Anandtechs X1900 review, as well as HERE, HERE and of course on GURU 3D

    X1950Pro Crossfire
    The X1950 pro is the first card to use a similar system to nvidas 'sli bridge' that sits accross the two graphics cards. For this configuration there are NO master or slave cards and NO external crossfire dongle. (I hear a big cheer from you all!)
    Unlike nvidia's SLI you get the bridge included with the graphics card when you buy it and not the motherboard. This is a nice touch. The crossfire system is still essentially the same, but incorporates the compositing engine into the GPU rather than as a seperate chip on the mastercard's PCB. This means every X1950pro can speak to each other.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As you can see from the picture above, this incarnation of crossfire utilises TWO bridges rather than one as with SLI. This is due to the fact that data can be passed bi-directionally between the two cards simultaneously. What benifits this will give over SLI remains to be seen, but it has been hinted on that it could be useful in systems using more than two GPU's, as well as improving Super AA performance.
    You can find some info on 'dongleless' crossfire HERE and a review including performance numbers HERE

    Motherboards/Chipsets

    Crossfire on AMD -
    There are two crossfire chipsets offered by ATI. The first of these is the RD480, otherwise known as Xpress200, but recently renamed (just to confuse matters) to Xpress 1600. The Xpress 1600 platform offers a reasonable set of features, however, note that just like the original Nforce 4 boards, in Crossfire mode, the 16x PCI-E lane is divided into 2 8x lanes. Also, there were numerous reports about the underperformance of ATI's South Bridge used on Xpress 1600 boards. This contributes to symtoms such as USB performance considerably lower than that of competing products.
    There are a few boards available, and all are undergoing a drop in price with the recent introduction of RD580 (see below). You will find details of the Asus A8R-MVP HERE, HERE and HERE.
    DFI have done their usual thing, and provided a board with all the tweaking options you can need. However, this board is a bit of a mixed bag, so make sure you read before you jump. For a few starters, look HERE, HERE and HERE
    There is also an RD480 offering from Abit - the AT8. Reviews are a bit thin on the ground for this one, but you can read Techpowerups views on this board HERE

    The Second AMD chipset offered by ATI is the new RD580 or Xpress 3200. This is an improved platform over the Xpress 1600, and competes directly with 16x Nforce 4. Just like the newer NF4 platform, it offers two full bandwidth PCI-E 16x slots when in Crossfire mode. This is a slight improvement on Nvidias offering as well, seeing as the RD580 natively supports all 32 PCI-E lanes provided to the GPU's, whereas Nvidias solution has to use two chipsets to do this. Theoretically this could mean lower latency and improved performance, however no GPU solution on the market can make use of this amount of bandwidth, therefore there is no 'real world' perfomance gain. As well as this, many board partners have decided to use ULi's capable M1575 Southbridge, which resolves any issues with below par USB performance and other features found on the Xpress 1600. This is the chipset you should really be looking at, if considering crossfire today, its both the most feature rich, and performance driven crossfire platform yet.
    It is also worth noting that ATI designed the Xpress3200 from the ground up to support both the upcoming Socket AM2 and current 939pin Athlon 64's. With AM2 a matter of weeks away, this has meant only a few board partners have brought a 939 product to the market place. First to market was the Asus with the A8R32-MVP Deluxe. This is a very capable board, although it had a few teething problems, so if you are considering, or a new owner of one, make sure your are running the latest bios revisons. A good thread describing users experiences with this board can be found HERE. Of course there are also various reviews, and you can find a few of them HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. You can also find Guru 3d's view of this board as part of the X1900 Crossfire review.
    The DFI CFX3200-DR is also a very strong offering based on the Xpress 3200 chipset. This offer's the most user configurable board on the market, with extreme overclocking performance. However, it is good to remember that DFI's arent for the newcomer and can often be quite a challenge. If you are considering a DFI make sure you are up to speed and know what you are doing! You will find reviews of this board HERE and on Anandtech too. You can find my own experiences with this board and X1900 series crossfire HERE. DFI Streets thread is also a good place to start, as well as OCZ Tony's CFX3200 board guide.
    The other two RD580 based 939pin boards available are the Abit AT8-32X and the Sapphire PURE CrossFire PC-A9RD580. You can find a review of the Abit over at Bit-Tech.

    Crossfire on Intel
    Yes thats right, you can run Crossfire on an Intel setup too. And unlike SLI, where the supporting chipset is Nforce 4 Intel Edition, Crossfire runs quite happily on Intel's 955X & 975X chipset. Here is a review of the Gigabyte GA-G1975X, and one of the Asus P5WDG2-WS. General performance numbers in comparison to an AMD Crossfire platform are a bit thin on the ground. For the time being, take a look at this CPU performance comparison of Oblivion using X1900 Intel and AMD setups over at Anandtech
    With the advent of Core 2 Duo, Intel systems are becoming ever more the first choice for enthusiasts. Luckily Crossfire is quite well supported, as most 975X chipsets will run xfire. ATI has developed the R600 chipset for intel platforms which is meant to give considerable performance benifits, 'triple play' support (support for Xfire + physics) and extended overclocking performance. However there have been issues getting this chipset to market, with only one board manufacturer confirming release - DFI. See HERE

    Powersupplies

    I have stated something similar in the SLI Users Guide, but a PSU is one of the most important things to consider when putting together a Crossfire setup. This is even more important with Crossfire, as many well known, high end PSU's have fallen over at the challenge. Please Make sure you read this excellent article on why many current PSU's are struggling with multi-GPU systems.
    There are however a few PSU's worth considering. You can find ATI's Crossfire Certified PSU list HERE. I have been using quite happily an FSP Epsilon FX700-GLN 700watt PSU, which has coped extremely well with an overclocked, overvolted setup. Other PSU's to consider include the Enermax Liberty Series, and of course the king of powersupplies, PC Power and Cooling. I understand OCZ will be bringing a new Crossfire certified PSU to market soon, after having problems with their current offering in X1900 Crossfire setups. If you have any questions that need answering it is also well worth checking out THIS thread. As a general guide, I would look for a PSU capable os sustaining at least 32amps on the 12v line for Crossfire. Even this does not seem to guarantee stability, so ask around and see what other people are using before you jump!

    Monitors and High Resolution Gaming.
    Ultra High resolution gaming is entirely possible, and exactly the reason you should be considering a multi-GPU system. Therefore it is essential that you consider your monitor, particlularly in the case of TFT's. Bare in mind that you really will not see the benifit of a SLI rig at this level running at anything less than 1600x1200, due to CPU limitation, and really the only advantage would be higher benchmark scores. All that power will just not be used on a 17" TFT with 1280x1024 native res, and i would consider a resolution of 1024x768 a complete waste!!!
    Basically, if you arent bothered about benchmarks, and can only run at a resolution no higher than 1280x1024, dont expect to be 'blown away'. Maybe consider a monitor upgrade and a single card in the short term, you can always add a second card down the line. Multi-GPU setups, including crossfire, and designed to be run at high resolutions, high detail settings, with AA and AF applied. Afterall, thats what you pay all that money for!

    Finally, if you are considering a Multi-GPU solution, remember Nvidia has a very mature option with SLI. For more info, please take a look at my SLI Users Guide

    [EDITED by morbias] links updated
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2009
  2. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Setting Up Crossfire

    In the Beginning

    Ok, to begin with you need to make sure you have the following hardware:

    1) Standard ATI Card

    2) Mastercard of the same Series to your standard card. i.e. for an X1900XT or XTX you would need an X1900 Mastercard. Note - X1800 series are due to recieve a driver update to allow mastercardless Crossfire. Also, midrange X1 series cards dont require a mastercard

    3) Crossfire enabled Motherboard

    4) A Capable PSU.

    If you have read the first section of the guide, hopefully you will have some idea of what hardware you want, and which direction you are moving in. ATI have badged every crossfire component to make it clear what you need to add to your system to enable crossfire. Just look for these on your box:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Putting it all Together

    Ok, so once you have all your gear together its time to get it up and running. Insall everything in the usual manner, but pay particular attention to the way in which you insert your Cards into the Motherboard. On some boards, the Mastercard goes in the second PCI-E 16x Slot, and on others it goes in the top one. I think this relates to which chipset your motherboard uses:

    RD480 Crossfire, Mastercard on the bottom....................................................RD580 Crossfire, Mastercard on the Top:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Whatever you do, when installing your graphics cards into your motherboard, make sure you consult your motherboard manual so you are sure you have them the right way around!
    Once the cards are in place, you need to fit the Crossfire, or Y cable, which looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    The odd looking connector you can see in the near ground connects into the special port on the back of the Mastercard (see pic above), then the DVI plug in the middle of the picture connects to the slave card, and the one on the left outputs to your monitor. Note - DONT connect your monitor directly into the back of one of the graphics cards, you will not be able to enable crossfire this way!

    Drivers and Software installation

    So you have your hardware together and in its box, and a fresh copy of XP installed... so its onto drivers. For those of you who have a dislike to the Catalyst Control Centre (CCC) provided for use with ATI drivers, you are not going to like this! In order to enable Crossfire you Have to install and use CCC. Currently for X1900 Crossfire the best driver set appears to be the 6.3's, or the 6.3 chuck patch, that enables HDR+AA support for Oblvion. You can find these in our download section. There have been reports of a few bugs with the latest 6.4 catalysts, including limited overclocking performance.

    Once you have the drivers installed, head into the CCC and select the crossfire tab. Tick the 'Enable Crossfire' box, like this, and hit ok.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    One thing that will become immediately apparent to anyone who has previously experienced SLI is the complete lack of options available in the drivers. Infact, the only evidence of crossfire even being enabled is a tick in a box (left hand screen) and Super AA modes being available (See up to 14x AA available in right hand screen). So in otherwords, dont expect to be able to change between rendering modes yourself, or adjust anything to do with the way crossfire works. This is a big negative compared to SLI, which is now really quite user configurable through the NV Control Panel. To put it in perspective, in CCC you cant even view the temps for BOTH your cards, only ONE of them!
    I think this is one area ATI really needs to sort out, after all if a game isnt offering decent performance on a multi GPU setup at release, at least with SLI you can attempt to configure it better yourself - CCC doesnt even allow you the options to try this with Crossfire.

    Does it Work?

    Right, so, you have it all setup, and ready to go, but does crossfire really work? The first thing to do to make sure its working ok is to run a couple of 3d benchmarks. Probably the best two for this are 3dmark05 and 3dmark06 from Futuremark. You can find details HERE and downloads for 3dm05 and 3dm06. Submit your scores, and compare with other peoples systems on the Orb, or look through some of the reviews posted above to see what you should be getting. As a pointer, for a X900 series setup, in 05 at stock you should expect around 13,300 with a high end CPU, and in 3dmark 06 around 8,500 with a Dual Core CPU (4800+). Note, that having a dual core CPU makes a HUGE difference to the scores in 06 so take this into account.
    If all this is looking good, then its time to test a few games. Its probably best if you have an idea of single card performance to compare when tesing games, seeing as you have no solid score as a guide to compare. Use FRAPS as a guide to your FPS. If the majority of your games see a reasonable performance boost then all is good. If only say, one or two out of ten games shows little or no performance increase this is likely due to a lack of crossfire optimisations in the driver for this title, rather than anything wrong with your Crossfire per-se.

    Troubleshooting

    So, you have got it all together, installed the drivers and a few games, but all is not well. One of the first problems that you may come accross are syncing or corruption between frames. First thing to do is to check your crossfire cable. Make sure its plugged in correctly and into the right ports. Also make sure your cards are in the slot right.
    If you cant enable crossfire at all, do as above, also confirm your PSU is plugged in correctly and does meet the rated specs. The holds true for any crashing or lower than expected performance.
    Heat is another issue. 2 X1900's get extremely hot in crossfire mode, and this can cause problems. Make sure your case has decent airflow throughout when putting together your build.
    Another area of potential issues is hardware conflicts. I have come accross one significant conflict while setting up my crossfire rig.
    Creative soundcards have traditionally had issues with sharing IRQ's. Sometimes they can work fine, but others they can cause a real problem, including crashes, slowdown in performance etc. After putting together my rig, everything seemed fine initially, until I started to get direct X errors when loading a 3d application. The only way this could be resolved was to remove and reinstall the drivers and DX9. However, another symptom of my problems was that the two cards would loose 'sync', so one card would act as if it was rendering 2 or 3 frames behind the other, causing massive graphical corruption.
    It turned out that this was caused by an IRQ conflict with my Creative X-Fi. My tip here is put the card in the highest possible PCI slot. On the DFI CFX3200 you have two available PCI slots in crossfire mode, so put it in the top one.
    For some reason the X-Fi doesnt seem to mind sharing IRQ 18 with the mastercard, and works fine, but sharing IRQ 19 with the Slave card gave me no end of problems.
    If you dont have a spare PCI slot to try, then try disabling all unnecessary motherboard features, such as USB ports before installing your soundcard & graphics cards. If you need more information on Creative cards and IRQ problems please take a look at THIS sticky over in the sound forum.

    Overclocking

    ***DISCLAIMER - BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN OVERCLOCKING ANY PART OF YOUR SYSTEM. THE INFORMATION GIVEN HERE ARE GUIDELINES. ALWAYS BE CAUTIOUS WHEN CHANGING CLOCK FEQUENCIES & VOLTAGES ETC. MYSELF, GURU3D OR ANYONE CONNECTED WITH THIS SITE TAKE NO RESONSIBILITY FOR HARDWARE FAILURE DUE TO OVERCLOCKING - DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!***

    Ok, so, you've got your crossfire rig set-up and running great in games. But fast is never fast enough, right? So its time for a little overclocking. However, overclocking crossfire is rather fiddly im afraid to say, due to lack of support. You can start with some limited overclocking in the overdrive section of ATI's CCC here:

    [​IMG]

    Note that when increasing the mem or GPU clock sliders in overdrive, you are overclocking BOTH cards.
    However, Overdriverwill only get you so far, and really is only for the newcomer who is afraid to push their cards too far. If you are feeling brave, then you will want the next stage, and the only app right now that will give you any kind of overclocking control over a crossfire setup is ATI Tool beta v0.25 BETA 14 which you can find at the bottom of the page HERE

    There are a few things to note about using ATI Tool. To start with it doesnt officially support crossfire, and so you have to overclock each card individually. Here are the steps on how best to achieve this:

    The first thing is enable crossfire in CCC as detailed above. It is important to note is that ATI Tool Cannot handle the 2d/3d clock fequency change applied in CCC. To get around this you need to disable the following 2 services - ATI Hot key Poller, & ATI Smart. To do this go to START---> Control Panel ---> Administrative Tools ---> Services. Looks down the list and you will find these two services, right click on each of them and select disable, like so:

    [​IMG]

    After you have done this Reboot, install and run ATI Tool. Note - to regain full functionality in CCC you will need to disable ATI Tool and re-enable the above services

    Ok, when you first load ATI tool, it will load its Default settings, and wont automatically detect your card(s). You will see somthing like this:

    [​IMG]

    So, you need to set ATI tool up to the right config for your cards using the following steps:

    1) Go click 'Settings' on the main screen (see above) and from the top drop down menu select 'Overclocking' if it isnt already selected. Then on the 'Devices' drop down menu you will see it lists both your cards as RD580 (if using X1900's) on bus 1 & 2 respectively. Select the first one on bus 1 to start with like so:

    [​IMG]

    2) Next, as its always a good idea to monitor your temps, select 'Temperature Monitoring' from the top drop down menu, and then select 'Measure Card Temperature' and then 'GPU Temperature' under the Tray Icon section to send a temp display into your system tray as follows:

    [​IMG]

    The next thing to do is to set your voltages. ATI tool will automatically set 2D or lower voltages for your cards, therefore if you leave them the Will not run properly. Therefore you have to set them manually. Go to the Voltage Control option on the drop down menu, and you will get the voltage options below.

    [​IMG]

    At stock the X1900's are 1.4v, but please make sure you know the stock Voltages of your GPU's before setting anything here. Always go on the side of caution if you are not sure. When you come to overclock you may need to raise these further to get higher clocks. If you are on AIR COOLING I wouldnt advise any more than 1.475v or you will risk problems with your card. If you have watercooling, you can go a fair bit higher, but be careful and monitor your temps and cards behaviour at all times.

    After you have applied this go back to the main screen, and click 'new' to save your settings as a new profile. Name it what you wish. Then select it and hit load:

    [​IMG]

    After you have done this, you need to go through the same process (but without the temp part as you can only display one cards temps) for the other card. In step 1 just select RD580 bus 2 instead. Then go back to the main screen and save the settings for the second card to the SAME PROFILE you have already set up.

    You are now ready to start adjusting you clock speeds through the sliders on the main screen, but do this carefully testing as you go:

    [​IMG]

    One final tip. ATI tool does not remember overclocked setting for both cards after a reboot. Therefore you have to go and manually apply the profile to EACH card by going through the following steps.

    1) Load your required profile on the main screen.

    2) Go to Settings ---> Overclocking and from the devices drop down menu, select the first card on the list (RD580 Bus 1 for X1900 users) as described above. Then go back to the main screen. Load your profile once more. This will load it for card 1.

    3) Repeat step two but select the other card (RD580 Bus 2 for X1900 users) and apply the profile with that card selected. This will load it for Card 2.

    4) Now you are good to go. Note - You have to do this EVERY TIME you reboot, or ATI Tool will not recognise crossfire and you will only be running in single card mode!!!

    Ok, well, that comes to the end of the guide for now. If you have anything else that should be added, please let me know!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2006
  3. boomheadshot45

    boomheadshot45 Active Member

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    great guide MikeMK... i have a question... i am going to be building a computer soon and another one after it. I am going to have like a 7900 gtx in one and probaly an ati x1900 series card. I am wondering do i have to get the "Ati x1900 crossfire edition" card to go with crossfire? So basically my questin is does it have to say "crossfire edition" on it? Thank you !
     
  4. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    So your current card is a normal X1900XT or XTX? Then you need a X1900 mastercard to go with it at the moment, as well as a crossfire motherboard in order to enable xfire.

    Finchwizard - thanks for banning that guy... wot an idiot :rolleyes:
     

  5. phrozin

    phrozin Ancient Guru

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    This is a excellent guide m8 even i leant some thing great work :rock:
     
  6. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Yeah, its getting there. Gonna finish it over the next few days. Trouble shooting next, then an overclocking section too i think... we shall see :)
     
  7. boomheadshot45

    boomheadshot45 Active Member

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    MIke i have some questions
    1. Is crossfire cpu limited? Like will an amd 3700 + perform differently in games with an fx-60 or like an amd x2 4800 +
    2. If i get a HIs x1900xtx do i have to go with a HIs x1900 crossfire edition card o can i go with like a sapphire x1900 cf edition card.. thank you !
     
  8. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Sure mate,
    1) Just like any multi GPU setup, crossfire is CPU limited to a point, so the faster CPU u have the better. This isnt to say you wont get amazing performance with a 3700+, you will, but of course you would get even better performance with an FX. As i said above, to avoid the bottleneck the best thing to do is to run high res, loads of AA and AF. Thats wot crossfire is designed for. If you are running at a res lower than 1600x1200, there isnt much point in going for a dual GPU setup. A single XTX can handle every game at that resolution.

    2) You can use any X1900 mastercard with any X1900XT or XTX with no problem. They can be from different manufacturers. Im running a Connect 3D XTX with a HIS X1900 Mastercard. :)
     
  9. Don_Won

    Don_Won Master Guru

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    Which rendering method performs the best? AFR, scissors or supertiling? How big is the difference?
     
  10. SancheZ

    SancheZ Member

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    mike mk, your a genious, i was looking over this a few days ago when i was getting that irq problem, and it worked,that damn x-fi card, but all is good now and now i will never go back to "single card solutions" ever again xD
     

  11. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Well, that really depends on the game. Wot works better in one game, might not in another. Some games have issues with certain rendering methods, so have to use a certain one.

    In theory though AFR is the most efficient, as each card is rendering every other frame, it ensures an even load is requested of each card. This would be followed by supertiling, because of the way the frame is divided up, however i can imagine there would be an overhead involved with distributing the correct data to each GPU to render.
    Scissor mode is probably the least efficient, as it is completely reliant on the drivers making a good decision over which proportion of the frame to give to each card to render, and defining exactly how much of the bottom of a frame equates to the same workload in proportion to the top of a frame.

    No probs mate, glad to help! :)
     
  12. boomheadshot45

    boomheadshot45 Active Member

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    Thank you for all of your help and answering my questions
     
  13. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    No probs... :)
     
  14. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    User guide updated, and i think ive covered pretty much everything.

    One thing - if anyone can confirm stock 3D voltages for any crossfire cards, (X1600, X1800 X1900 series) then I will add them into the guide.
     
  15. SpajdrEX

    SpajdrEX Ancient Guru

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    also if you get BSOD when running in Crossfire
    control panel>display>settings>advanced>troubleshoot then disabling write combining can help (in some cases).
     

  16. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Ahh, yeah, forgot that i meant to put that in... thx...
     
  17. guezz

    guezz Member

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    Wow, this is a impressive guide.

    Do you mind that I link to this guide in my sticky at Futuremark: The Buyer's Guide: 6600GT - 7900GTX / X1900XTX?

    I will then write something like: "If you like a much more in depth overview of Crossfire please visit this page"
     
  18. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Yeah, sure mate... go ahead. Glad you liked it :)
     
  19. Deeko

    Deeko Member

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    Fantastic Guide Mike, lots of crossfire users are now having success with using the AFR mode in games that dont have a profile built in the driver. To do this they have renamed the games .exe file to one that already has a profile in Atis driver. Success for me so far has been renaming both the games GRAW and Toca 3 to FEAR.EXE, I got a massive boost in GRAW, probably double and a hefty boost in Toca 3.

    If other Crossfire users could post here what games benefit more and with what rename they used it would be extremley useful, as some renamed .exe's will work better than others.

    Check out here:

    http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthread.php?t=33851458
     
  20. MikeMK

    MikeMK Ancient Guru

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    Excellent tip mate. I shall try that out myself tonight! Good little work around. I shall add it into the guide later. Hopefully ATI will give us more control over profiles in a future driver release, like Nvidia has done with SLI.
     
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