Some time ago we posted a review of the new professional ATI FireGL V7350 graphics card (for details see our article called ATI FireGL V7350 Graphics Card Review: Radeon X1800 XT for Professionals?). the launch of this solution based on the 90nm GPU was the first signal that the entire families of ATI’s and Nvidia’s professional graphics cards based on the latest and greatest GPUs will soon get a fresh new look. Of course, we couldn’t disregard this exciting bit of new from the professional graphics card market. So, today we would like to offer you a detailed coverage of features and performance of the latest solutions for professional workstations.
Note that even though the new-generation professional graphics accelerators use the same GPUs as the gaming cards, they still differ greatly from the gaming solutions. First of all it is a huge price difference that catches your eye: the professional solutions are a few times more expensive than the gaming cards. The price is justified by all other differences: the professional cards are targeted primarily at OpenGL applications for 3D modeling and CAD tasks for specialists. So, the special OpenGL driver specifically optimized for the corresponding software applications makes a significant part of the package. Moreover, all professional hardware and software from the graphics card makers is certified by the 3D application developers to ensure that they will work impeccably in these tasks. Therefore, we should regard professional graphics accelerators as a combo-package that includes not only the graphics card itself, but also a specially optimized OpenGL driver for this card.
Within our today’s test session we will take a closer look at the new ATI FireGL V series and Nvidia Quadro FX series solutions. These cards differ from their predecessors by much higher theoretical performance, which they owe to faster 90nm ATI R520 and Nvidia G71 GPUs. However, we should keep in mind that the workload created by 3D modeling and CAZD applications is completely different from the traditional gaming workload. Typical professional apps do not use shaders and other funky visualization technologies that have become extremely popular in the latest 3D computer games. Professional graphics cards need “pure” performance: texturing speed and triangle processing. Therefore, the use of GPUs initially developed for gaming needs may bring some surprises in professional environment. In other words, we can expect the performance of professional cards in OpenGL applications to strike most gaming fans as something quite illogical.
So, let’s meet our today’s testing participants.