Compute

Moving on from our look at gaming performance, we have our customary look at compute performance.

Our first compute benchmark comes from Civilization V, which uses DirectCompute to decompress textures on the fly. Civ5 includes a sub-benchmark that exclusively tests the speed of their texture decompression algorithm by repeatedly decompressing the textures required for one of the game’s leader scenes.

In the game world Civ5 benefits significantly from SLI and CrossFire. For our texture compression test however AFR is more a liability than a benefit. This doesn’t impact the game in any meaningful manner, but it’s an example of how SLI/CF aren’t always the right tool for the job. Unfortunately for both parties, with as few compute applications as there are today, almost none of them benefit from SLI/CF.

Our second GPU compute benchmark is SmallLuxGPU, the GPU ray tracing branch of the open source LuxRender renderer. While it’s still in beta, SmallLuxGPU recently hit a milestone by implementing a complete ray tracing engine in OpenCL, allowing them to fully offload the process to the GPU. It’s this ray tracing engine we’re testing.

SmallLuxGPU only currently supports ray tracing with one GPU, so all of our results are effectively proxies for what would be if the GTX 590 only had one GPU. Not surprisingly overclocks do wonders here, and NVIDIA’s strong compute architecture gives them an easy win. SLI/CF performance will become more important here when we upgrade to LuxMark for our next iteration of our benchmark suite, as LuxMark can handle multiple OpenCL drivers.

Our final compute benchmark is a Folding @ Home benchmark. Given NVIDIA’s focus on compute for Fermi, cards such as the GTX 590 can be particularly interesting for distributed computing enthusiasts, as two GPUs should be able to quickly retire work units.

Folding@Home doesn’t directly benefit from CF/SLI at all. However by dispatching one WU to each GPU it’s possible to double effective performance. With that taken into account the GTX 590 is quite an effective cruncher, particularly when we start looking at overclocking.

Wolfenstein Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • tipoo - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    So was the WU count close to exactly double the single chip score of 360? Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    When using both chips with two WU's, I mean. Reply
  • alent1234 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    i can buy an x-box and with the price of a lot of good older games a few years worth of gaming for that Reply
  • MrBungle123 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    Thats like someone watching NASCAR, seeing the price of a car and saying they could buy a honda civic and a decades worth of gas for the same money. Reply
  • alent1234 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    i got sick of buying the latest video card when they hit $399 years ago. around 60fps you really don't notice any difference in speed so getting 100fps or some other number doesn't do it for me anymore Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    TBH, in the land of console ports, very few games (on a single monitor) justify a card above 200. Reply
  • Targon - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    That just goes to show that you play the wrong games then. The new top of the line games really can push the $400 cards fairly well at 1920x1080 and full details. With DirectX 11 support, these new games really push the limit. Then you have things like Eyefinity, driving 5860x1080, and you want more than a $200 card. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    Not really...This card isn't a one off race car. It's a production part, limited maybe but you can buy it at retail. A stock car is not stock... Reply
  • Azethoth - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    What!? Next you are gonna claim wrastling isn't real. Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, March 24, 2011 - link

    Puzzled by the cryptic color scheme on the graphs?

    Could you stick to red + shades of red for AMD and green + shades of green for nVidia (ok, blue for not so relevant cards)?

    Or at least color the labels of the cards accordingly?
    Reply

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