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Asus shows off its Radeon HD 3850 X3 Trinity

Asus shows off its Radeon HD 3850 X3 Trinity

Asus uses MXM modules to make this engineering sample X3 card

Asus dropped down to bit-tech offices yesterday afternoon to show off its new HD 3850 X3 graphics card - yes, that's right THREE 3850 GPUs on a single PCB. How does it achieve this? Using MXM modules and some clever use of heatpipes and watercooling - the cores all face towards the board and the memory on the back is heatsinked.

The MXM modules (two on the back and one of the front) get a pair of heatpipes each which, are then routed down to the cooling block at the end - this cooling block is then watercooled (Asus brought down a Thermaltake 5.25" bay kit) to take the heat away.

Because of this, the card is whopping 1.45kg and extends over the length of even a full size ATX motherboard (in our case the Maximus Formula below). It has four DVI outputs, it requires just one eight-pin power adapter and each HD 3850 MXM module has its 320 stream shader core clocked to 668MHz and has 512MB of GDDR3 clocked at 1650MHz memory, but since these are in CrossFire by pairs of ribbon cables, this is mirrored between the modules instead of making 1.5GB of graphics memory available.

While we were assured the card worked in the Asus office, it seems the trip down gave it a hump we couldn't rectify - between four motherboards we tried the card in we couldn't get it to boot.

Don't worry, it's not a card that'll make retail, but it's more of a willy-waving engineering sample. While clearly crazy - we thoroughly encourage this because it's good to see an innovative product, rather than just the next reference card along with another sticker and a different game bundle. We've seen MXM modules strapped to PCBs with PCI-Express x16 slots on them before, but who knows, maybe this technology might make it onto future products that are a bit more elegant? Tell us what you think in the forums.




29 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
DougEdey 28th March 2008, 08:39 Quote
I'm more interested in a 3850 on a laptop :p
HourBeforeDawn 28th March 2008, 08:43 Quote
WOW that thing is nuts talk about a perfect multi-monitor solution or the ultimate HTPC card for the sports junkie that wants different shows on different monitors. Man if they could up the performance of this card then it would be awesome for flight sims with the three monitor setup.
p3n 28th March 2008, 08:53 Quote
would be nice to see a graphics card with some form of upgrade path bar replacing the entire thing!
wuyanxu 28th March 2008, 09:21 Quote
look at multi-CPU, has it taken off? no, we all only have 1 CPU in our computer, just with many cores.
look at GPU's, it's already gone parallel with stream processors, so i see no reason to get this sort of gimmick cards. it's just marketing.
cjoyce1980 28th March 2008, 09:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
look at multi-CPU, has it taken off? no, we all only have 1 CPU in our computer, just with many cores.
look at GPU's, it's already gone parallel with stream processors, so i see no reason to get this sort of gimmick cards. it's just marketing.

I would prefer to see multi core GPU's like we do with CPU's. these huge cards just dont seem to offer much more, especially when you like at nvidia's 9800GX2.

hopefully we will get some benchmarks soon
r4tch3t 28th March 2008, 10:16 Quote
I quite like the look of this card, much better than the standard box on a bracket, it actually looks interesting.
Have they brought out a card with upgradeable MXM modules?
roryok 28th March 2008, 10:29 Quote
too right on the multi-core GPU idea.

I'm just wondering when Asus will start squeezing in a CPU, RAM and SSD on the card, and just sell the bloody things as a standalone games machine.
Xtrafresh 28th March 2008, 10:29 Quote
oh holy moddability of those MXM modules...
I never heard of those before, i like it alot.
Also nice to see movement towards a single card solution for triple or quad monitor setups.
[USRF]Obiwan 28th March 2008, 12:05 Quote
Shame it didnt boot up... Any feedback on that?
LeMaltor 28th March 2008, 12:22 Quote
Yeah why arent they doing multi core GPU's?
impar 28th March 2008, 12:27 Quote
Greetings!

HD 3850 X2 also coming:
http://techreport.com/discussions.x/14438
Mister_Tad 28th March 2008, 13:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
Yeah why arent they doing multi core GPU's?

They are and have been for years, they're just not called cores. They're called pipelines, stream processors, etc. For instance an 8800GTX is effectively a 128 core processor.
TreeDude 28th March 2008, 13:49 Quote
There are no multicore GPUs because you can't just replace the GPU. You have to replace the whole card. If Nvidia/AMD developed a socket per line of cards (or something to that effect) than that may be something doable. But I do not foresee the way we buy graphics cards changing anytime soon.

Aftermarket graphics cards don't have the same demand as CPUs. You need a CPU to have a PC. But most people stick with integrated. Why should they create multicore GPUs for sure a small enthusiast market? Doesn't make for good business.
LeMaltor 28th March 2008, 14:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Tad
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
Yeah why arent they doing multi core GPU's?

They are and have been for years, they're just not called cores. They're called pipelines, stream processors, etc. For instance an 8800GTX is effectively a 128 core processor.

Ok cool lol :)
K3TT 28th March 2008, 14:49 Quote
Asus Trinity Triple GPU 3850 X3 gets benchmarked

--> http://ketzone.com/blog/?p=439
completemadness 28th March 2008, 15:58 Quote
Holy shizzle, That's a looooong (and heavy) card
EmJay 28th March 2008, 17:35 Quote
Heh. Cool concept piece. Wonder where it'll lead next.
Tulatin 28th March 2008, 18:08 Quote
No crossfire fingers? What a disgrace.
MrMonroe 28th March 2008, 19:42 Quote
Single PCB my left nut... I see four on that card; one main and three satellites to hold the GPUs.
Icy EyeG 28th March 2008, 20:38 Quote
MXM modules? Isn't that a nVidia technology?
widmod 28th March 2008, 21:08 Quote
does this card run 4 monitors at once?
alastor 28th March 2008, 21:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy EyeG
MXM modules? Isn't that a nVidia technology?
ATI joined up to MXM when they realised their competing standard didn't stand a chance. Can't even remember what it was called now, Axiom maybe?

This thing is frankly bonkers. I want one.
Tyinsar 28th March 2008, 22:05 Quote
I'd be interested to see the drivers and how the four outputs function in relation to the cores.
This is indeed crazy, cool & stupid all at the same time - Sadly I suspect the cost (especially with the required water cooling) is way beyond what I'd pay anyway.
Cthippo 28th March 2008, 22:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
look at multi-CPU, has it taken off? no, we all only have 1 CPU in our computer, just with many cores.

Speak for yourself! This post is brought to you by a pair of Opteron 250s. No, it's not mainstream, but there are several of us on the board with SMP desktops (Nexxo is another)
Quote:
Originally Posted by roryok
I'm just wondering when Asus will start squeezing in a CPU, RAM and SSD on the card, and just sell the bloody things as a standalone games machine.

They have, it's called a console :p
wuyanxu 28th March 2008, 23:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Speak for yourself! This post is brought to you by a pair of Opteron 250s. No, it's not mainstream, but there are several of us on the board with SMP desktops (Nexxo is another)

and what's the performance/power consumption or performance/value ratio of that compared to the usual quad core CPU's? people aren't going to go multi GPU even if it scales at nearly 1.9x for dual cards, it just uses too much power and produces too much heat.

G80 F.t.w
Cthippo 29th March 2008, 09:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
and what's the performance/power consumption or performance/value ratio of that compared to the usual quad core CPU's? people aren't going to go multi GPU even if it scales at nearly 1.9x for dual cards, it just uses too much power and produces too much heat.

G80 F.t.w

The mainstream won't, but there are certainly a lot of people who want the best performance possible, regardless of the power costs. No matter how great a single card is, two of those same cards are going to be better. Not twice as good of course, but better.

For me, I just like unique and obscure hardware. My system reflects me, notable performance by an unconventional route.

And in case you were wondering, I'm looking at a pair of 7950GX2s for my next upgrade. Sure, I could get more performance from an 8800GTX, but I just gotta be me! :D
wuyanxu 29th March 2008, 12:34 Quote
all i can say is, this x3 card is catered specially for you :)
MonkeyNutZ 30th March 2008, 01:01 Quote
Could this be (In a rather far fetched manner) a harbinger of AMDs planned modular video cards?
Nexxo 31st March 2008, 19:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
look at multi-CPU, has it taken off? no, we all only have 1 CPU in our computer, just with many cores.

Speak for yourself! This post is brought to you by a pair of Opteron 250s. No, it's not mainstream, but there are several of us on the board with SMP desktops (Nexxo is another)

SMP is for the big boys.

A modular video card is the way to go.
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