NVIDIA's November 2006 introduction of the GeForce 8800 GTX GPU did more than release than a forward-looking architecture. We reckon that it caught ATI with its pants down, not expecting NVIDIA to show such a strong hand, and knowing that architectures are drawn-up at least 18 months before public consumption, Radeon HD 2900 XT (R600), launched six months after G80, flattered to deceive.
It's been a fair while since AMD (ATI) had the fastest graphics card on the market, then, and NVIDIA's sensible leveraging and distilling of the G80 core has left it owning the high-end space. AMD's tried to win it back, of course, with dual-GPU Radeon HD 3870 X2, but NVIDIA, on balance, has just kept ahead in the single-card stakes that confer the enviable 'halo' status on a brand.
Move closer to today and AMD's mid-priced Radeon HD 4870 and HD 4850 SKUs have upset the NVIDIA apple-cart - now driven by the GeForce GTX 200-series - by offering excellent performance for relatively modest outlays.
So what happens when two Radeon HD 4870 GPUs are coupled together, on one board, and unleashed in retail form? Will the massive rendering power combine to knock NVIDIA for six, or is it a case of smoke and mirrors? Read on to find out.