4. The mainboards
To enable Crossfire, first of all you need a motherboard with a Crossfire-ready chipset. The first chipset that will really qualify as Crossfire ready is the Radeon Xpress 200 Crossfire Edition that will begin shipping after mid-June. However, unlike NVidia which forces you to buy an Nforce4 SLI board, ATI is going to keep Crossfire an open platform for all vendors. Intel based motherboards with dual PCI-E x16 slots are already confirmed to be compatible and ATI has even offered its help to make the Nforce4 SLI chipset work together with Crossfire.
The Radeon Xpress 200 CE chipset comes in two flavours for both AMD (socket 939) and Intel (LGA775) processors.
- Radeon 200 Crossfire Edition (AMD)
You can see the reference model for the 200 Crossfire Edition for AMD processors in these two photos. The two large black slots at the center of the motherboard are the PCI-Express x16 slots that will hold the Crossfire cards. The board looks a lot like the EQS M56K9-MLF motherboard we tested some time ago.
- Radeon 200 Crossfire Edition (Intel)
The reference board for Intel Pentium 4 processors you can see here, follows a similar layout but features one small and one larger PCI-Express x1 slot instead of 2 small ones.