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What Is AMD CrossFire?

It's time for a trip down tech history lane

Reviewed By: Kevin Pocock

Last Updated on May 10, 2023
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If you are looking for a multi-GPU setup, you should already know what AMD CrossFire is.

The concept behind the multi-GPU setup was the talk of the town back in 2000. And the company didn’t want to stay behind, so it released CrossFire.

What’s CrossFire?

AMD CrossFire works just like Nvidia SLI, and it pairs up more than one graphics card to produce a single output while doubling the performance. So, the image you see on your screen is created by all the GPUs you have in your system. 

There’s a bit more to it though, as there are a couple of operation modes for this setup. These include:

AFR (alternate frame rendering)

This assigns one card to generate one frame and then the other card to produce the next frame, and keeps involving all the cards.

For instance, the primary card will process each odd frame, and the secondary card will process each even frame. But micro-stuttering is a frequent issue, and users can get worse performance. 

SFR (split frame rendering)

This approach divides the workload between the graphics cards with a slightly different environment. The system assigns cards with varying screen parts to render and merges all the results. 

Is CrossFire better than SLI?

CrossFire was arguably better than SLI because it could use cards that weren’t the same model or from the same brand. Of course, you’d need to have cards from the same series.

It’s all about having multiple graphics cards linked to your PC and using their combined power. It was an idea that seemed pretty crazy before 2004, when Nvidia launched it with their Scalable Link Interface technology. 

And soon, AMD followed with CrossFire in 2005. But there were a few shortcomings with this technology, and these loopholes caused the ultimate demise of this technology.

Conclusion

A series of continuous failures from AMD made them lag behind Nvidia, and their GPUs flopped in the 2010s. But if CrossFire had delivered on its promises, things might have been entirely different. 

AMD abandoned CrossFire entirely in 2017. It continued support through DirectX 11 applications, but ultimately AMD has moved on.

Kevin is the Editor of PC Guide. He has a broad interest and enthusiasm for consumer electronics, PCs and all things consumer tech - and more than 15 years experience in tech journalism.

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