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