This past Thursday, AMD released Radeon Software 17.9.2, AMD’s most recent graphics card driver that unlocks 2-way multi-GPU support in the company’s newly released Radeon RX Vega graphics cards. Good stuff. HOWEVER, not great for hardcore gaming PC builders.
Previous generations of Radeon GPUs supported up to 4-way CrossFire configurations. Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past, since AMD has now confirmed that RX Vega will top out at 2-way configurations – at least as far as gaming support goes.
“We have delivered two-way mGPU support in games,” and AMD representative recently stated. “Three- and four-way configurations will continue being supported in compute and professional applications.”
AMD’s move is honestly, not a surprising one. Competitor Nvidia also cut down their multi-card support, dubbed SLI (its brand name for multi-GPU support) with the launch of their most recent generation of graphics cards, the GTX 10-series, which also tops out at 2-way support in traditional games. Like AMD, Nvidia killed support for these extreme enthusiast setups quietly, only confirming the change after the press and gaming public sat up and noticed.
CrossFire and SLI enable multi-GPU support in DirectX 9 and DirectX 11 games via AMD and Nvidia profiles, respectively. The new DirectX 12 tech found in Windows 10 requires developers to explicitly build multi-GPU support into their games instead of relying on those profiles. More advanced 3- and 4-way multi-GPU support will still work in DirectX 12 games that want to take the time to feature such a capability. Considering how few DX12 games currently support multi-GPU whatsoever, and how deeply niche 4-way hardcore gaming PC side of the market really is, I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of DX12 games take advantage of such as use case (much.)
With the removal of 4-way gaming support, AMD also confirmed that they would be phasing out the CrossFire brand. Going forward, all official AMD references to multi-GPU support will simply use the term “multi-GPU” or “mGPU.”
With AMD’s removal of 4-way GPU mutli-GPU support, it does certainly feel like the era of hardcore gaming hardware is coming to an end. That’s not necessarily a problem, since a 2-way setup can usually do most of the heavy lifting with games, especially if they’re high end cards. The high hardware cost combined with the multitude of issues that can occur under a 3- or 4-way multi-GPU configurations could make such a purchase and set-up difficult to justify in the eyes of gamers.
Fortunately, today’s hardware makes powering through the most graphically demanding PC games possible on a single graphics card, without necessarily requiring the brute force of a 4-way rig, unless you’re shooting for 4K resolution with over 60 frames per second on the highest detail settings. But of course, as we all know, hardware will catch up to that level of gaming and only require one card. It’s just a question of when. 🙂
Will you miss having 3- or 4-way GPU support for games? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.