Doubtless many of you reading about the AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2, and specifically Crossfire X, will have considered the obvious question of how long it would be before a board partner crams three GPUs onto a single card. Given past experience the question basically boils down to which manufacturer will be the first to show off such a card. The answer? Asus.
Dubbed, for now at least, the Asus EAH3850 Trinity, the card uses a customised PCB layout in order to fit three GPU cores into the space usually occupied by one or two. In addition to that, the prototype card comes bundled with a watercooling setup housed in two 5.25in drive bays.
While the card isn't at a retail-ready stage yet, Asus states that it does work. In theory, performance should be just the same as three separate HD 3850s in a standard Crossfire X setup. It also sports four DVI ports, all of which can be used when the card isn't in Performance mode - so no four-monitor gaming then...but then that's true of a similar nVidia setup too.
Even if it made it to retail production, it seems unlikely that Asus would make many of these cards as the potential market is just too small. As a proof of concept, however, and a straight-up feat of engineering, it certainly is impressive.