Cut to the chase summary:
Recommended Workhorses: Nvidia’s Quadro K4000 and AMD’s FirePro W7000. If these two cards are too expensive, then AMD’s FirePro W5000 is a good alternative.
AMD caught up in many areas where it previously trailed Nvidia in the professional space. And if a workload overwhelms one of these boards, it’s a driver issue, not a limitation of the hardware. The GCN-based cards naturally do well in compute-heavy applications via OpenCL support. There’s a real alternative to Nvidia’s Quadro cards, particularly when you take price into account.
Nvidia is squeezing a lot of performance out of its GPU hardware. The K5000 even comes close to the Quadro 6000’s performance on occasion, while using a little more than half as much power in the process. The Quadro K5000 and K4000 share some of the limitations of Nvidia’s gaming graphics cards based on GK104. Simply, that GPU wasn’t designed for compute.
Advanced Studio mode, a feature within NX 8.5, provides engineers with a realistic representation of their 3D models by applying complex shaders and lighting in “real-time”, without the need for full renders.
Below are some internal benchmarks (from Fireprographics.com) comparing AMD FirePro W series GPUs to Nvidia K Series GPUs in True Shading mode.
Eyefinity is another “beyond benchmarks” advantage of FirePro technology. Engineers can get a holistic view of a product assembly, while they work on the smaller component parts of the design. For example, they can relate product components to its corresponding Bill of Materials from Teamcenter while retaining a full model view and its components.
Saphire Professional Graphics ran a performance comparison of the AMD FirePro W5000 vs Nvidia Quadro 2000 in SolidWorks 2013 across rendering modes: Shaded, Shaded with Edges, Shaded + RealView, Shaded with Edges + RealView and Shadow, Shaded RealView + Shadow. The video is annotated with each phase of the test.
Quick Summary: the AMD FirePro W5000 took 1min and 38 seconds. The Nvidia Q2000 took about 3 mins, almost 1.8X times compared to the FirePro W5000.
Adobe today announced that they will be previewing the next generation of their flagship video tools including Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects and SpeedGrade.
Important to these announcements are that each of these products (along with PhotoShop) will support OpenCL and OpenGL acceleration on AMD FirePro graphic cards. By working with AMD FirePro to use open standards (as opposed to proprietary soluitons i.e. Cuda), Adobe products will be accelerated on any modern graphics card (including any moves to mobile).
The chart below (from the FireProGraphics.com Adobe CS mini site) gives some initial results of how the next version of Premiere Pro performs when accelerated by AMD FirePro workstation graphics and OpenCL compared to CPU only and also compared to Nvidia Quadro workstation graphics and CUDA. This test applied several high quality effects (filters) to video footage in real-time, such as color matching, adjustments to compensate for gamma irregularities and color shifts, color layering, primary and secondary color correction, including many effects from Adobe’s Lumetri Deep Color Engine. The test then measured the time to render the effects In and Out.
At NAB 2013 next week (April 8-11, 2013), Adobe plans to showcase the next version of Premiere Pro in its booth (#SL3910) running on AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards. Look for real-time video editing for quality as high as 4k Ultra HD, multi-stream and mixed format accelerated workflows, Eyefiniy multi-display and many accelerated effects.
Adtech Global worked with AMD FirePro to develop a High Speed Cluster solution based on GPGPU technology to support efforts in quantum chromodynamics research for the King Abdualziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS).
ACST and FIAS were striving to not only maximize performance, but also to optimize this performance for thermal dissipation and power draw efficiency. The challenge in building a supercomputer is no longer the money you’re willing to spend on processors. The challenge now lies within getting enough power and cooling to the supercomputer itself. The SANAM supercomputer was able to break these barriers. It is currently the world’s No. 52 most powerful supercomputer, and the world’s 2nd most power-efficient supercomputer.
Critical to the power efficiency was the use of (420) AMD FirePro S10000 dual-GPU server graphics cards. The SANAM supercomputer is capable of sustaining 421.2 TFLOPS, providing a system energy efficiency of over 2.3 GFLOPS per watt and performing 2,351 million calculations per second per watt.
The video below gives a really insightful tour of the collaboration between Adtech and AMD, as well as some clear visuals on the actual SANAM supercomputer. You can also read the case study which details the custom computing solution they implemented with the help of Adtech Global.
SPECapc today released their SolidWorks 2013 workstation benchmark. The benchmark includes 10 new models, each of which is exercised with 12 tests (10 graphics and 2 CPU). The models were selected from the SolidWorks user community, with an emphasis on real-world datasets that can be distributed in the public domain.
The 10 graphics-oriented tests in SPECapc for SolidWorks 2013 use three SolidWorks view settings - RealView, ambient occlusion (AO) and shadows - in combination with shaded and shaded-with-edges display styles.
The video below compares the AMD FirePro W7000 to the Nvidia Quadro K5000 using the SPECapc for SolidWorks 2013 benchmark. As you can see, the FirePro W7000 finished rendering the models across the RealView, AO, edge and shadows settings in 9:06, while the same content on the Quadro K5000 isn’t complete until 13:48. What I find important to note is that these are real-world datasets running real-world scenarios (not some synthetic or artificial benchmark).
Note: I posted this video last week, not realizing this was the new 2013 benchmark. Now that I know, this is the latest benchmark, I am even more excited.
This video compares rendering performance in SolidWorks 2013 using the AMD FirePro W7000 ($899 MSRP) vs the Nvidia Quadro K5000 ($2249 MSRP).
These are videos of identical scripted manipulations with real-world models under real-world rendering and lighting conditions using SPECapc for SolidWorks 2013 (designed to represent a day in the life of a typical SolidWorks user, i.e. not an artificial benchmark).
Cut to the chase: the FirePro W7000 is finished rendering the content at 9:06, while the same content on the Quadro K5000 isn’t complete until 13:48 – in other words, the FirePro W7000 is about 30% faster in SolidWorks 2013 rendering.
If you are a SolidWorks user, this comparison might be a bit of an eyeopener.
In addition to rendering performance, the FirePro card also benefits from PCI Express 3.0 offering less overhead and up to twice as much data throughput. Also the FirePro card can simultaneously handle rendering and compute (e.g. FEA/CAE). The Nvidia K series is PCI Express 2.0 and provides rendering only.
Specs for the test were as follows:
Hewlett-Packard HP Z600 Quad-Core Workstation running Win 7 Professional, w/ 8GB RAM
AMD Driver : 9.003.3
Nvidia Driver : 310.90
Screen Resolution : 1280 x 720
Benchmark: SPECapc for SolidWorks x64 SP0.0
Models Used : Audi R8 S.SLDASM , Digger.SLDASM, Supercar.SLDASM, Rally Car.SLDASM, BRERA_ASS.SLDASM, Tower Assembly 02.SLDASM
Updated March 13 to reference SPECapc for SolidWorks 2013.
Develop3D tests and compares the new AMD FirePro W5000, W7000 and W8000 along with the Nvidia Quadro K5000, specifically for CAD applications and price / performance. The cards were tested across three applications relevant to CAD-centric workflows.
Creo 2.0 - SPECapc benchmark which tests for wireframe, shaded and aggregates the two (composite). SolidWorks 2013 - tested with two different models — an engineering model with shading and edges, and a camera model with RealView, the real time rendering mode. 3ds Max 2011 - SPECapc benchmark, which features a wide variety of models to test for interactive graphics and GPU shaders.
Conclusion: The FirePro W8000 and the Quadro K5000 high-end card are overkill for most CAD-based workflows, with both the FirePro W5000 and W7000 offering excellent price/performance.
“The fact is that 3D performance in many CAD applications is still limited by the GHz of the CPU, which means high-end cards like the Quadro K5000 and FirePro W8000 are not able to fulfil their true potential.”
“There are glimpses of what more power can offer when a heavier load is placed on the GPU. The shaded (Creo), RealView (SolidWorks) and GPU shaders (3ds Max) tests all show a significant jump when moving from the FirePro W5000 to the W7000.”
FireUser.com is a community resource for CAD, visualization, 3D, video and engineering professionals to learn about the latest acceleration and display technologies and news with a focus on the AMD FirePro workstation graphics line.