ATI FirePro plays leapfrog with Nvidia
Let the driver kvetching begin
AMD has made its latest move in the game of workstation-class graphics leapfrog it's playing with competitor Nvidia.
On Tuesday, the company announced its ATI FirePro V8750 3D workstation graphics accelerator, designed - as explained by AMD - for "CAD, Digital Content Creation (DCC) and oil and gas professionals." In other words, for deep-pocket corporate installations that require high-end graphic performance.
Note to gamers: The FirePro V8750 won't run Crysis any faster than your current card. In fact, it'll likely bog it down. The V8750 is for pro users who need hyper-accurate 16-bit RGB color and 2560-by-1600 multiple-display resolutions. High-end gaming cards are more interested in pushing as many pixels and vertices through their pipelines and onto your display as possible.
AMD notes that the ATI FirePro V8750 compares favorably with one of Nvidia's top offerings, the Quadro FX 4800. On paper, at least, they have a case. The FirePro V8750 has 800 shader processors and a GDDR5 memory bandwidth of 115.2GB per second, while the Quadro FX 4800 weighs in with 192 shader processors and 76.8GB per second GDDR3 bandwidth.
Nvidia's Quadro FX 5800, on the other hand, has 240 processing cores and 102GB per second bandwidth to its 4GB GDDR3 memory. That's still slower than the specs of the FirePro V8750, but its 4GB memory allotment is significantly higher than the 2GB of the V8750 and the 1.5GB of the FX 4800.
The catch is that the Quadro FX 5800 streets for around $3,000 in its base configuration, and it can run up to $7K in tricked out configs by PNY Technologies. Both the FirePro V8750 and the Quadro FX 4800, on the other hand, run "only" $1,800. ®
Re: Today's To Do
Try modeling a 30 mile, six lane road, with relevant bridges, soil types, hydrology, etc overlaid with survey data using a $100 video card on a $400 Dell and you'll see why these things aren't quite up to the job.
The software I use can not only keep track of my design to automatically correct everything if I modify a part of the road outside of National Civil Engineering standards, but can then be transferred to the equipment in the field so it can do its work automatically and conform to my design to 1/100 of a millimeter accuracy.
When we integrate satellite imagery over our designs to verify simple things like the bridge is in the right bloody place, the same software will correct perception errors making the satellite image more accurate.
We also use the same 3D CAD software for project management. For example a bridge required new supports, a new bridge would have been better but we didn't have the funding. Using the software to figure out alternative options that fit within our budget, what we did was create the supports next to the old bridge and then transfer the "road" to the new supports. We then joined the new bridge to the existing road on either side and removed the old supports.
The software created an animated version detailing the process together with the required paperwork and a machine copy for the equipment that would be automating the work. The cool factor came when the video recording (actually sped-up time lapsed photography) of the real work looked identical to that 3D animation we'd created for the field engineers.
Can we do these things using a gaming card? Yes and it will still have the same accuracy, but because it isn't accelerating the right kind of graphics it's like using an onboard chipset to run Crysis with all the knobs turned to max. Are these cards worth their price? Probably not, they probably aren't any more complicated than the cards that can push 60 FPS plus in Crysis, but because they're seen as tools for professionals in an industry that builds billion dollar projects over decades, $5000 isn't exactly a bank breaking amount.
quote:"Nvidia's Quadro FX 5800, on the other hand, has 240 processing cores and 102GB per second bandwidth to its 4GB GDDR3 memory. That's still slower than the specs of the FirePro V8750, but its 4GB memory allotment is significantly higher than the 2GB of the V8750 and the 1.5GB of the FX 4800."
You do realize that in most cases the FX5800 will be faster because its shader processors run at a much higher clock speed? both of those chips use very different architectures, so you cant directly compare shader processor to shader processor. Only benchmarks can tell the story.
No mention of CUDA or OpenCL? I'm disappointed, what good is an accelerator without an API?
Not much difference really, maybe except the chips used are specially selected and the boards are probably more fault tolerant. There used to be firmware hacks that you could do to flash a GeForce into a Quadro, so essentially the silicon is the same but the price is much higher. Some additional features get enabled, such as higher precision functions I think.
But yeah, Quadro's and FirePro's just generally have higher profit margins.
Hopefully for that price they have removed their fingers from their bottoms and supplied Linux OpenGL drivers that actually work...
Historically ATI have been quite good here
What you're paying for is the certified drivers and custom add ins for high end packages. They do make a difference.
However, from what I can see the difference is largely with OpenGL applications. OpenGL is cross platform and has some useful features, but some of the higher end apps have been moving to DirectX. I'm not sure in that case the cards are quite as useful..
@Today's To Do
.... simple - its the best way to win the "I spent more money on my graphics card than you" argument.