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SPECViewperf 11.0

The synthetic benchmark SPECViewperf is the first tool we use when testing professional graphics cards as it has become an industry standard for evaluating top-end graphics workstations. Modeling rather primitive operations, this benchmark shows the geometrical performance of graphics cards working via OpenGL. Such performance depends on both hardware resources and driver optimizations. The benchmark works by sending predefined sequences of OpenGL instructions to the graphics driver to visualize rotating models in the same ways as in certain professional applications.

A new version of SPECViewperf has been released recently. It features a revised list of tests and more complex 3D models. The scripts of the new SPECViewperf simulate a user working in the projection windows of the following professional applications (the name of each test is given in brackets): LightWave (light01), CATIA (catia-03), EnSight (ensight-04), Maya (maya-03), Pro/ENGINEER (proe-05), SolidWorks (sw-03), Siemens Teamcenter Visualization Mockup (tcvis-02), and Siemens NX (snx-01).

So, the new Quadro 5000 is considerably faster than its previous-generation predecessor. Talking about the superiority of the new Fermi-based Quadro series, Nvidia’s marketing department uses the word “exponential”. Indeed, the new card is more than twice as fast as the Quadro FX 4800 in such tests as ensight-04, tcvis-02 and snx-01. On the other hand, the Quadro 5000 has no advantage in light01 and proe-05. So, certain professional applications may expose some weaknesses in the overall more progressive Fermi architecture.

SPECViewperf also makes it clear that using gaming cards for professional applications is hardly appropriate. Although the GeForce GTX 470 has the same architecture as the Quadro 5000 and even works at higher frequencies, it has problems processing complex models via OpenGL. The speed of the gaming card is much lower than that of the specialized solutions with optimized drivers.

We also used SPECViewperf 11.0 to see how full-screen antialiasing affects graphics performance. The diagram below shows the changes in the SPECViewperf results when we enable different FSAA modes.

The large amount of graphics memory on board the Quadro 5000 helps this card support higher FSAA modes. It is the only one to support 64x mode whereas its predecessor Quadro FX 4800 was limited to 32x. Such FSAA modes provoke a considerable performance hit, though. On the other hand, the Fermi-based professional graphics card can boast higher memory bandwidth and thus enjoys an even larger advantage when we enable FSAA.

SPECViewperf 11.0 provides a good overall notion of the performance of the new professional graphics card, but it is a synthetic benchmark after all. Therefore, we will additionally test the Quadro 5000 in some real applications.

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