The leading GPU developers AMD and Nvidia are competing not only on the market of gaming graphics cards. There’s one more important market which is comprised of professional cards for CAD/CAM applications, HD content processing, and heavy computing. Although their sale volumes aren't high, such products do bring in considerable profits just because they cost much more than their gaming counterparts.
AMD and Nvidia used to have different views of the professional graphics card market. Nvidia considered it a priority and often introduced its new GPU architectures on this market first. Nvidia’s most advanced and high-performance solutions are professional cards, too. AMD, on its part, limited itself to adapting gaming cards for this market - and with some delay at that.
The two approaches produced different outcomes. AMD products were not well represented in the professional market whereas Nvidia used to dominate it. When AMD eventually decided to expand, it relied on simple and easy methods: a clever pricing policy and a rapid introduction of new-generation professional cards with advanced architectures. As a result, the company's market share grew from 12% in 2009 to 20% by the beginning of 2014.
Inspired by this success, AMD keeps on pushing forward. Its revenue from selling professional graphics cards has been steadily increasing in the last two years. And now that the company is becoming profitable, any extra revenue from this field would be especially important. So AMD invests more in it and doesn't have to wait long for the returns. Last year, for example, AMD's FirePro series cards made their way into Apple's Mac Pro workstations. To ensure this success, the company had designed the D300, D500 and D700 models with high performance and support for 4K resolutions across three monitors.
Later on, AMD updated its publicly available professional series by transitioning it to the latest generation of GPUs. The new flagship FirePro W9100 is based on the Hawaii GPU which is well known to all gamers. It is a big step forward because the FirePro W9100 not only brings about all the capabilities of the GCN 1.1 architecture but also boosts performance, especially in terms of double-precision floating-point computations. It looks like AMD is now ready to challenge Nvidia in the professional market. To check this out, we will test the FirePro W9100 today.