What Is Crossfire and Is It Still Used?

Sophia Kowalski

AMD Crossfire

CrossFire is a multi-GPU technology developed by AMD. It enables users to link multiple graphics cards together to boost a system’s graphical performance, which is particularly useful for demanding tasks like gaming or graphic design. As games and software have evolved, the demand for higher graphical processing power has increased. CrossFire, along with its Nvidia counterpart SLI, aims to meet this need by allowing two or more GPUs to work together, sharing the processing load to deliver a smoother and more detailed visual experience.Over time, support for CrossFire has declined. Game developers have gradually moved away from optimizing their titles for multi-GPU setups, largely because of the complexities and performance inconsistencies that can arise with such configurations. Additionally, advancements in single-GPU performance have reduced the relevance of CrossFire in modern PCs. Newer technologies and software APIs like DirectX 12 offer alternative means of utilizing multiple GPUs without the need for specific hardware bridges or explicit support like SLI or CrossFire.

AMD CrossFire: A Blast From the Past in Multi-GPU Tech

Remember when having two graphics cards was the hot setup for PC gamers? That’s where AMD CrossFire comes in. Let’s explore what it is and if it’s still relevant in today’s gaming world.

CrossFire Explained: Double the GPUs, Double the Fun?

AMD CrossFire, also known as CrossFireX, was AMD’s answer to multi-GPU technology. It allowed you to connect two or more AMD graphics cards (GPUs) to work together, theoretically doubling or even quadrupling your graphics performance.

How It Worked

  1. Multiple GPUs: You needed two or more compatible AMD graphics cards.
  2. Bridge Connection: A special bridge connector linked the cards, allowing them to communicate.
  3. Software Support: Games and drivers needed to be specifically optimized for CrossFire to recognize and utilize both GPUs.
AMD Crossfire Logo

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Potential for huge performance gains in supported games.Not all games supported it, leading to inconsistent performance.
Could extend the life of older graphics cards.Drivers could be buggy, causing instability.
Offered an alternative to buying a single high-end GPU.Increased power consumption and heat generation.
Some modern games might have issues with multiple GPUs.

The Fall of CrossFire

CrossFire faced several challenges:

  • Limited Game Support: Not all game developers optimized their titles for CrossFire.
  • Driver Issues: CrossFire often suffered from driver bugs, leading to crashes and instability.
  • The Rise of Single Powerful GPUs: As single GPUs became more powerful, the need for multiple cards diminished.

Is CrossFire Still Used?

AMD officially discontinued CrossFire branding in 2017. However, the underlying technology still exists for DirectX 11 games and is now referred to as mGPU (multi-GPU). Some games might still benefit from mGPU, but it’s no longer a mainstream solution. Most gamers opt for single, powerful GPUs instead.

Key Takeaways

  • CrossFire technology allowed multiple AMD GPUs to increase graphical performance.
  • Support for CrossFire has declined as game developers focus less on multi-GPU optimizations.
  • Advances in GPU technology and software have decreased the necessity for multi-GPU setups like CrossFire and SLI.

The Evolution and Current State of CrossFire Technology

This section explores CrossFire’s journey, its comparison with SLI, current technological trends, compatibility, and its functioning.

Definition and History

CrossFire, initially developed by ATI Technologies before its acquisition by AMD, allowed users to link multiple graphics cards to amplify performance. ATI introduced CrossFire in 2005 with the Radeon X1950 Pro, providing a new solution for improved graphics rendering.

CrossFire vs. SLI

SLI, or Scalable Link Interface, is Nvidia’s counterpart to CrossFire. While SLI demands identical video cards, CrossFire is more flexible, supporting varied cards from the same series. It aims to boost anti-aliasing, resolution, and overall graphics performance.

Technological Developments

Over the years, CrossFire and multi-GPU settings evolved with technology like DirectX 12. CrossFireX enabled even more graphics cards to work together, and advances in motherboard chipsets and PCI Express also enhanced performance.

Support and Compatibility

AMD published compatibility charts for users to select suitable cards. As graphics demands grew, developers updated CrossFire support to maintain peak performance across multiple monitors and maximized resolutions.

Multi-GPU Configuration and Modes

CrossFire configurations can operate in different modes such as Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR) and Split Frame Rendering (SFR), distributing tasks for smoother visuals. These modes are integral to managing how graphics cards share rendering duties.