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Catalyst 10.2 CrossFire: Coming of Age
George Ross, February 28, 2010

Time once again to evaluate CrossFire performance with ATI's latest Catalyst release. This time it is the Catalyst 10.2 that is under inspection and with it a new feature for CrossFire in the form of a new way of handling application profiles. Think of it as a hot fix for CrossFire application profiles which will be released between Catalyst releases as a separate executable file to ensure that you have access to the absolute latest CrossFire application profiles without having to wait a month for the latest Catalyst release. This is a nice feature for people who demand the absolute best in performance or for correcting errors that can happen from time to time without the need to release another full Catalyst update. While this new feature is a nice addition to the Catalyst suite it will not be the main focus of this article instead we will be focusing on CrossFire performance gains that are offered from the Catalyst 10.2 driver release.

Test Hardware
A 3.4GHz Core i7 setup was used to test CrossFire performance increases. Here are the particulars.

Processor Intel Core i7-920 @ 3.4GHz
Motherboard EVGA E758-TR
Memory G.SKILL Trident 6GB DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000) @ 813 MHz (DDR 1626) 11-11-11-28 Triple Channel Mode
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3250310NS 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
Video Card Radeon HD 4890 @ 900 MHz core 1,000 MHz (4,000 Gb/s) memory
Catalyst 10.2
Radeon HD 4890 @ 900 MHz core 1,000 MHz (4,000 Gb/s) memory
Radeon HD 4890 @ 900 MHz core 1,000 MHz (4,000 Gb/s) memory
Catalyst 10.2
Optical Disk Drive Pioneer DVR-115DBK
Power Supply Seventeam ST-850PAF 850W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Gaming Benchmarks

Adding the second HD 4890 gives you a 20% boost in 3D Mark 06 benchmarketing numbers.

3D Mark Vantage makes better use of the additional HD 4890 giving you a 64% increase in scores.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat makes use of CrossFire very well giving you an 80% boost in overall average frames per second.

Using CrossFire for playing Crysis gives you a 38% increase in overall average frames per second.

The added HD 4890 raises the World in Conflict Demo overall average frames per second by 41%.

Devil May Cry 4 has always reacted well to CrossFire and the Catalyst 10.2 continues this trend with a increase of 82% in overall average frames per second.

Resident Evil 5 puts CrossFire to good use by bumping up the overall average frames per second by 24%.

Taking all the game tests into consideration CrossFire gives you a 54% rise in overall average frames per second. This is the highest performance gain I have seen in my test bed.

Power Consumption
In order to achieve this 54% increase in gaming performance power consumption goes up 48% under full load, and while the system is at an idle state and the added HD 4890 is providing no help power consumption goes up 31%.

It is nice to see that ATI is committed to delivering you the best possible multi-GPU experience they can provide by continuing to tweak there CrossFire performance with each Catalyst release and now adding the ability to do so between Catalyst refreshes. While there is still much work to be done in getting twice the performance for twice the cost it is nice to see that ATI still working in that direction.

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