ATI FireGL V7350 against NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500
ATI positions the new professional FireGL V7350 graphics accelerator as a primary rival to Nvidia’s Quadro FX 4500 based on the same G70 architecture as the GeForce 7800 GTX gaming graphics solutions. Moreover, Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 boasts the same design as Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB, including the cooling system with four heatpipes and 80mm fan. You can read more about the Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 design and features in our article called Performance Monsters from AMD: Dual-Core CPUs in a Dual-Processor Workstation .
If we compare the specifications of the new top professional graphics product from ATI against the competitor from Nvidia, the picture will be pretty ambiguous:
ATI FireGL V7350
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500
PCI Express x16
PCI Express x16
GPU production technology
Memory bus width
Amount of onboard
2 x DVI
2 x DVI
Dual-link DVI support
$1800 (average retail)
Judging by the table above it would be pretty hard to claim the superiority of ATI FireGL V7350 over Nvidia Quadro FX 4500. In fact, the only characteristic of the ATI solution that is better over Nvidia Quadro is the amount of onboard graphics memory. From the architectural standpoint Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 seems to be a more suitable solution for the professional application field. ATI FireGL V7350 yields to the rival in the lower number of texturing units in the first place.
I would like to point out that the workload laid on the GPU by professional 3D modeling applications is very much different from the gaming workload. The thing is that the gaming industry decided to give up active use of multi-texturing in favor of shader effects. As a result, the developers of contemporary graphics accelerators have also adjusted their approach to hardware designs. They moved away from simple increase in the number of texturing units towards massive improvement of the GPU computational power required for faster and more efficient shader processing. ATI R580 chip currently used in Radeon X1900 graphics card family is a vivid example of this concept implementation. This processor features only 16 texturing units thus yielding to G70 with 24 units of the kind. However, this 1.5 times difference doesn’t really affect the gaming performance, because R580 boasts huge computational power, which we have already told you about in our previous articles, such as The Fast and Furious: ATI Radeon X1900 XTX Review . However the use of the same architecture in professional applications can have really bad outcome for the developers. The thing is that contemporary 3D modeling applications use very limited number of shaders. The image is output onto the screen in a good old manner: by laying textures one over another. Therefore, shader performance is of secondary importance for professional accelerators, while the geometry and texturing speeds become the top priority parameters. In other words, if in games ATI Radeon X1900 XT turns out overall faster than Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX, then in professional applications the situation may turn out completely different.
This is why they didn’t base their professional solutions on the existing R580 chip, which is in mass production right now. The higher shader performance it boasts is of simply no use in this case. This is exactly why ATI decided to use the older R520 GPU for its professional graphics cards. This chip is free from any excessive extras and at the same time boasts identical geometrical performance and texturing speed.