Introduction

With the leap in performance that both ATI and NVIDIA made in desktop performance earlier this year, we were very excited about diving into workstation performance once boards were available. As usual, their workstation parts trailed their consumer parts in hitting the market place.

We have also been very keen on seeing what the new architecture from 3Dlabs has to offer in the form of the Wildcat Realizm 200 part. This 512MB workstation card is equipped with plenty of processing power and supports VS 2.0 and PS 3.0 level functionality. In bringing more pixel shader feature set support to the table than ATI, the Realizm and Quadro have an early advantage. Of course, the true test will be done in our performance tests.

Performance testing workstation level hardware has been very tricky in the past, but with the release of SPECviewperf 8.0.1, we were able to get a little help. SPEC really improved the quality of their benchmark from previous versions. In our opinion, it's now more reflective of real world performance than what previous versions have been. Given the difficulty associated with testing applications manually, we welcomed the inclusion of SPEC in our test suite. SPEC traces are taken from real applications, and the OpenGL commands are issued to the card (without the application itself running). The viewperf test is the only "synthetic" test that we use; all other tests performed are benchmarked within the application itself.

Today, we will be looking exclusively at the AGP lineup. Part of the decision to focus on AGP first has to do with platform. We were unable to get our hands on the type of system that we wanted to run for our first workstation graphics review in a PCI Express flavor in time for this article. On the AGP side, however, IWill was very happy to provide us with their DK8N motherboard. The board supports 2 Opteron processors, and we wanted to make sure that our test bed had ample CPU power to allow the graphics card to shine.

Each vendor offers much more powerful PCI Express versions of their card. 3Dlabs goes so far as to offer a multi-chip solution with two GPUs and a third chip called a vertex/scalability unit that handles vertex processing and division of labor among the two GPUs. We are very interested naturally in testing performance on the PCI Express workstation side as well, and we plan on doing a follow up to this article that targets just that.

For this article, we will start by looking at the architecture of each workstation GPU. The ATI and NVIDIA parts are based around their desktop parts, but we will give them a proper dissection here as well. We've never taken a look at the architecture of the 3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm part before now, so we'll begin there.

3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm 200 Technology
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  • Jeanlou - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    Hello,
    I just bumped into AnandTech Video Card Tests, and I'm really impressed !

    As a Belgian Vision Systems Integration Consultant (since 1979), I'm very interrested about the ability to compare these 3 cards (Realizm 200 vs FireGL X3 256 vs NVIDIA Quatro FX 4000).

    I just had a bad experience with the Realizm 200 (!)

    On a ASUS NCCH-DL motherboard, Dual Xeon 2.8GHz, 2GB DDR 400, Seagate SCSI Ultra 320 HDD, 2 EIZO monitors (Monitor N°1= L985EX at 1600x1200 px), (Monitopr N°2= L565 at 1280x1024 px), Windows XP Pro SP2 x32bit partition C:\ 16GB, Windows XP Pro x64bit edition partition D:\ 16GB, plus Extended partions (2 logical E:\ and F:\). All NTFS.

    Using the main monitor for images analyses (quality control) and the slave monitor for tools, I was unable to have a stable image at 1600 by 1200 pixels. While the Wildcat4 - 7110, or even the VP990 Pro have a very stable screen at maximum resolution. But the 7110 and the VP990 Pro don't have drivers for Window XP x64bit.

    Tried everything, latest BIOS, latest drive for ChipSet...
    Even 3Dlabs was unable to give me the necessary support and do not answer anymore !

    As soon I reduced the resolution from the main monitor to 1280 by 1024, was everything stable, but that's not what I want, I need the maximum resolution on the main monitor.

    The specs from 3Dlabs resolution table is giving 3840 by 2400 pixels maximum!

    I send it back, and I'm looking for an other card.

    I wonder if the FireGL X3 256 will do the job ?
    We also use an other monitor from EIZO (S2410W) with 1920 by 1200 pixels !
    What are exactly the several resolutions possible with the FireGL X3 256 using 2 monitors ? I cannot find it on the specs.

    Any comment will be appreciated,

    Best regards,
    Jean
    Reply
  • kaissa - Sunday, February 20, 2005 - link

    Excellent article. I hope that you make workstation graphic card comparision a regular article. How about an article on workstation notebooks? Thanks a lot. Reply
  • laverdir - Thursday, December 30, 2004 - link

    dear derek wilson,

    could you tell us how much is the performance
    difference between numa and uma in general
    on this tests..

    and it would be great if you could post maya
    related results for guadro 4k with numa enabled..


    seasonal greetings
    Reply
  • RedNight - Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - link

    This is the best workstation graphics card review I have read in ages. Not only does it present the positive and negatives of each the principal cards in question, it presents them in relationship to high end mainsteam cards and thereby helps many, including myself, understand the real differences in performance. Also, by inovatingly including AutoCAD and Gaming Tests one gets a clear indication of when the workstation cards are necessary and when they would be a waste of money. Thanks Reply
  • DerekWilson - Monday, December 27, 2004 - link

    Dubb,

    Thanks for letting us know about that one :-) We'll have to have a nice long talk with NV's workstation team about what exactly is going on there. They very strongly gave us the idea that the featureset wasn't present on geforce cards.

    #19, NUMA was disabled because most people running a workstation with 4 or fewer GB of RAM on a 32 machine will not be running with the pae kernel installed. We wanted to test with a setup most people would be running under the circumstances. We will test NUMA capabilities in the future.

    #20,

    When we test workstation CPU performance or system performance, POVRay will be a possible inclusion. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Derek Wilson
    Reply
  • mbhame - Sunday, December 26, 2004 - link

    Please include POVRay benchies in Workstation tests. Reply
  • Myrandex - Saturday, December 25, 2004 - link

    I wonder why NUMA was fully supported but yet disabled. Maybe instabilities or something. Reply
  • Dubb - Friday, December 24, 2004 - link

    http://newbietech.net/eng/qtoq/index.php

    http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=2347485b...
    Reply
  • Dubb - Friday, December 24, 2004 - link

    uhhh.. my softquadro'd 5900 ultra begs to differ. as would all the 6800 > qfx4000 mods being done by people on guru3d's rivatuner forum.

    I thought you guys knew that just because nvida says something doesn't mean it's true?

    they must consider "physically different sillicon" to be "we moved a resistor or two"...
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, December 24, 2004 - link

    By high end features, I wasn't talking about texturing or prgrammatic vertex or fragment shading (which is highend in the consumer space).

    I was rather talking about hardware support for: AA lines and points, overlay plane support, two-sided lighting (fixed function path), logic operations, fast pixel read-back speeds, and dual 10-bit 400MHz RAMDACs and 2 dual-link DVI-I connectors supporting 3840x2400 on a single display (the IBM T221 comes to mind).

    There are other features, but these are key. In products like Maya and 3D Studio, not having overlay plane support creates an absolutely noticable performance hit. It really does depend on how you push the cards. We do prefer the in application benchmarks to SPECveiwperf. Even the SPECapc tests can give a better feel for where things will fall -- because the entire system is a factor rather than just the gfx card and CPU.

    #14, Dubb -- I hate to be the one to tell you this -- GeForce and Quadro are physically different silicon now (NV40 and NV40GL). AFAIK, ever since GF4/Quadro4, it has been impossible to softquadro an nvidia card. The Quadro team uses the GeForce as it's base core, but then adds on workstation class features.
    Reply

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