More to Come, So Stay Tuned

Wrapping up the first part of our review of the FirePro W9000 and W8000, we’ve taken a look at the specifications of the new FirePro W series, along with looking at the impact of Graphics Core Next for professional graphics, and how all of this fits together in AMD’s larger plans. AMD’s big goal remains to capture a much larger share of the lucrative professional graphics market from NVIDIA in order to break out of the sub-20% rut they’ve been in for some time. To do that they not only need to deliver solid hardware at a reasonable price, but also exceptionally solid drivers, and major industry partnerships that will advance the state of professional graphics applications and help AMD counter NVIDIA’s strong marketing message at the same time.

Later this week we’ll be publishing our second part of this review, focusing on building a professional graphics test suite and the resulting benchmarks. It goes without saying that benchmarking professional cards comes with quite a few quirks, less so because of the hardware and more because of the typical programs. A typical professional graphics application looks, acts, and renders nothing like a game – in particular shaders are sparingly used – which means that performance bottlenecks are in entirely different places.

This actually poses a recurring problem for the professional graphics industry, since compute/shader performance has been growing by leaps and bounds, while raw texture and pixel throughput has been much more modest. This reflects the consumer market where games are primarily investing in shader effects and 1080P has been a staple resolution for quite some time, but it means that many professional applications aren’t directly tapping much of a modern GPU’s capabilities since shaders aren’t heavily used. Instead some professional applications can tap those resources through the use of compute, which is part of the reason why AMD and NVIDIA both invest in projects that increase the use of compute in the professional graphics market.

Anyhow, we’ll have more on the performance of the FirePro W series later this week with our follow-up article. So until then stay tuned.

R.I.P: FireStream (2006 - 2012)
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  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Over the years I've always popped over to this page to read the latest news and especially articles yet over the last year, or maybe a bit more, the articles haven't exactly been flowing. is the site slowing down?

    :(
    Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    This engineer doesn't like the so-called "professional" cards. I think they are a rip-off. My high-end workstation computer came with a top-of-the-line Quadro and it could barely handle a second monitor. I finally got a mid-level gaming card and was much happier with its performance. Reply
  • A5 - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Then the card you got was broken. Even integrated graphics can handle 2D on 2 displays no problem. Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    That's what I would have thought, but no. Even scrolling down an Excel document was slow, pausing every second to redraw the whole screen. Same thing when dragging a window around over a background that was "stretch to fit." Garbage! Tried modifying graphics settings, hardware acceleration on/off, Googling like mad, posts in the AT forums but no-go. Reply
  • wiyosaya - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    100 percent agree with your assessment that the pro cards are a rip off. The chips are the same chips as in gaming cards. The only difference is a few switches in firmware that cut off options when run in gaming cards.

    That firmware is also developed by the same developers; I say this after having worked in a similar field where the company I worked for marketed RIP software designed to print to copiers. All the features were in the software, but customers had to pay sometimes substantially extra to enable some of those features. In my opinion, anyone who thinks that there is a separate team developing "pro" drivers is mistaken.

    With a PC that has enough processing power, IMHO, most professionals will not need the "extra capabilities" that the pro cards offer over gaming cards. Perhaps the only reason a pro would need a pro card, if you believe the marketing coming out of the pro card realm, is because you are working with a model that has thousands of parts.

    However, there is a recent trend to kill double precision compute power in gaming cards. IMHO, this is going to hurt graphics card makers more than it will help. It was for this reason that I avoided buying a GTX 680 and opted for a 580 instead for a recent build of mine.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Apparently it doesn't hurt them at all since they're making a lot of money with pro cards. All you have to do is show this to a CAD designer and you'l make sale:

    http://vimeo.com/user647522
    Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    All these videos illustrate is that certain hardware accelerated features are turned off at the bios and software level. It is an illustration of intentional vender modifications of a piece of hardware to differentiate the two in order to improve the profit of the other.

    This was clearly illustrated in early versions of Quadros whereby a simple bios update would re-enable the turned off features of the consumer model. These methods may have been disabled by now by the vendor as they get wise to the ways of gamers.
    Reply
  • rarson - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Wrong. With a professional card, you pay for both the validation and the software, neither of which are professional quality in the consumer variants.

    "That firmware is also developed by the same developers"

    Firmware and drivers are two different things, by the way.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya - Thursday, August 16, 2012 - link

    "Wrong. With a professional card, you pay for both the validation and the software, neither of which are professional quality in the consumer variants."

    The marketing departments have done their jobs very well or you are "pro vendor shill," IMHO as that is what the vendor wants everyone to think. As I previously stated, having been in more than one position where the companies that I worked for sell "professional" software, it is not the case.

    I expect that most pro software packages will run on most gamer cards with very little difference except, perhaps, when pushing the pro software package to its absolute limit. If anyone wants to pay $4K for a $400 card, they are certainly welcome to do that. IMHO, it is a complete waste of money.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, August 19, 2012 - link

    If you really are a professional graphics (or compute) user and would rather take the chance by opting for a non-validated $400 card instead of a fully-validated and backed by the hardware and software-vendor $4,000 card, then you have got your priorities wrong. That or you're being seriously underpaid for the sort of work you are doing.

    Your software vendor isn't going to be very impressed when you report a problem and they find the system you are running it on has a GeForce or Radeon card instead of one of the validated professional cards and driver versions supported by it!
    Reply

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