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Testing Participants

AMD FirePro W8000

AMD’s FirePro W series cards feature GPUs with the Graphics Core Next architecture, effectively being professional modifications of the Radeon HD 7000 series. The FirePro W8000 is not the top-of-the-line model as AMD also offers the more expensive W9000 which costs about $3400. We couldn’t get the latter, but the FirePro W8000 is in fact the same card, just somewhat slower and much cheaper. Both are based on the Tahiti GPU, the W8000 having a cut-down version of the chip. In its full configuration the GPU has 32 execution modules and 2048 shader processors whereas the W8000’s GPU has 28 execution modules and 1792 shader processors.

The memory bus is narrowed from 384 to 256 bits on the FirePro W8000 which is equipped with 4 GB of onboard memory. The number of raster operators, which are separate from the memory controller in Southern Islands GPUs, is 32, just like in the W9000 model.

The FirePro W8000 is targeted at high-performance workstations that have certain limitations concerning the power consumption and heat dissipation of the graphics subsystem. That’s why the W8000 needs only 150 watts of power via its two 6-pin connectors. Besides disabling some of the GPU subunits, the clock rates were reduced to lower the power draw. The GPU is clocked at 900 MHz and the memory, at 5.5 GHz. The clock rates don’t differ much from the W9000’s: its GPU frequency is a mere 75 MHz higher and its memory frequency is the same. However, the overall effect is that the W8000 has considerably lower specs than its senior cousin. Its pixel and texture fill rates are 28.8 Gpixel/s and 100 Gtexel/s, respectively, which is 20% lower compared to the W9000. The memory bandwidth is lower by a third at 176 GB/s.

The lower specs ensure lower power consumption, so the FirePro W8000 needs up to 189 watts as compared to its senior cousin’s 274 watts. And even with such specs as it has, the FirePro W8000 features higher theoretical performance than its opponent Quadro K5000. The latter is more economical, though. It needs 122 watts and has only one power connector.

The FirePro W8000 has quite an impressive appearance. It is a full-size card with a dual-slot cooler borrowed from top-end gaming single-GPU products. The full length (with the cooler) is 28 cm.

Although the FirePro W8000 has the same cooler as the Radeon HD 7970 (with a copper vapor chamber and an improved fan), it looks unique. We don’t mean the words on its plastic casing. The key difference is that the W8000 has an additional heat-spreading backplate which protects it from physical damage and also cools the chips on the reverse side of the PCB.

The card is also original in terms of video interfaces. It lacks DVI connectors but has as many as four DisplayPorts. You can also connect a DVI monitor to your FirePro W8000 by means of an adapter, which is usually included into the product box. A 3-pin connector for stereoscopic functionality can be found nearby. There are also internal connectors on the PCB: two for the CrossFireX technology and one for the synchronization module FirePro S400 (it supports Framelock and Genlock operation modes).

The FirePro W8000 costs $1400. Like other professional solutions from AMD, it comes with a 3-year warranty, comprehensive tech support and guaranteed 3-year lifecycle.

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