3D Artist magazine and Develop3D both review the new, wallet-friendly InterPro IPW-iB Core i7 CAD workstation. The 3D Artist review is from a shootout of 4 workstations under £1,200. The Develop3D is one of their ongoing series of workstation reviews.
From 3D Artist: Out of the four systems that we tested, three had near-identiucal configuration. The InterPro IPW-iB was the only ssystem to use an AMD graphcics card ... and it shows. In most of our tests, the FirePro W5000 GPU enabled the InterPro IPW-iB to storm ahead of the pack. The SpecViewPerf Maya benchmark and CINEBENCH OpenGL scores were almost double those of other workstations.
From Develop3D: The IPW-iB’s secret weapon is the FirePro W5000, one of AMD’s new Southern Islands Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). The FirePro W5000 plays its trump card inside PTC Creo 2.0. The graphics score of 5.85 is head and shoulders above anything currently possible with Nvidia Quadro GPUs. AMD’s close co-operation with PTC on developing the Creo 2.0 graphics engine seems to be playing big dividends here.
AnandTech has posted The AMD FirePro W9000 & W8000 Review: Part 1 covering the two high-end Tahiti GPUs of the new FirePro W-series family. The article covers both the technical details of the card as well as thier perception of how AMD is increasing their market share by embracing 3D performance, compute performance, stability and open standards.
The article has an excellent overview of the GCN architecture in terms of why it matters to the professional market - “an architecture that’s significantly better at compute without sacrificing graphics performance, and this is why the resulting GCN architecture is balanced for both compute and graphics.”
It also discusses other defining features including: Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory support, Partially Resident Texture technology, PowerTune (power throttling based on thermal tolerance), PCI-Express 3.0 support, and Video Codec Engine (VCE) hardware H.264 encoder,.
In part II, AnandTech will focus on performance and benchmarks (hopefully real world rather than just synthetic).
Tom’s Hardware reviews the new AMD FirePro W9000 and W8000 cards testing them on Maya, AutoCAD, some synthetic benchmarks (SPECViewperf 11), OpenCL performance and games (I’m not getting the game testing on pro cards) They compare the these results to those from Nvidia Quadro Fermi boards.
In Maya 2013, both the W8000 and W9000 outperformed the Quadro 6000 by impressive margins (basically showing strong price performance advantages). Same for OpenCL image processing and benchmark (2X to 4X) tests. Same on AutoCAD 3D performance (which is not CPU-bound). Same for DirectX performance (while you generally don’t buy a workstation graphics card to play games, it is notable that this is the first time I have seen pro cards have equal or superior gaming performance over the consumer cards).
The Quadro Kepler line faired better in the synthetic SPECViewperf 11 CATIA test (would be nice to see real application performance tests) as well as OpenCL video processing tests (this one surprised me). The FirePro line outperformed significantly in the SPECViewperf 11 Lightwave and Solidworks sequences, as well as Siemens NX and Ensight with higher levels of AA sampling (again, would be nice to see real work application performance).
More than one commenter noted these tests used a low end CPU with a high end GPU, so some of the tests (such as AutoCAD 2D), were CPU-bottlenecked and didn’t show realistic scaling or performance.
Cut to the chase purchase recommendation: “It’s not difficult to give the FirePro W8000 a thumbs-up based on its price to performance ratio. The W8000 costs a lot less, operates more efficiently (and quietly), and performs almost as well as AMD’s FirePro W9000. Yes, it’s a little strange to give a $1600 graphics card a value-oriented recommendation knowing that most folks have no need for such an expensive piece of hardware. However, for the professional users who can’t compromise on points like validation, performance, or support, $1600 can quickly pay for itself in recovered productivity. If you don’t need the FirePro W9000’s extra performance, AMD’s FirePro W8000 should make a great long-term workhorse in your workstation.
3D World does a quick review the Nvidia Quadro 2000 ($480), Quadro 5000 ($1956) and AMD FirePro V7900 ($764).
Some quick summaries:
Nvidia Quadro 2000
“It doesn’t quite compete on performance, but it’s amazing value for a budget workstation”
Nvidia Quadro 5000
“... ultimate performance for merely high-end prices. It does cost twice as much as the Quadro 4000 however, so it’s best partnered with a similarly premium workstation specification.”
AMD FirePro V7900
“The FirePro V7900 goes head-to-head with Nvidia’s Quadro 4000, yet costs at least £100 ($158) less. It sports 1,280 Stream processors, 2GB of GDDR5, and a bandwidth of 160GB/sec – which is more than any current Nvidia Quadro model. This gives it some impressive performance results, making it a very tempting competitor to Nvidia’s high-end offerings.”
This video demo from SIMULIA 2012, shows a 2.9X acceleration of the Abaqus S4b direct solver benchmark unning on an AMD FirePro v9800 using OpenCL. The benchmark simulates bolting a cylinder head onto an engine block with 5,000,000 DOF. The nonlinearity in this problem arises both from changes in the contact conditions and yielding of the gasket material as the bolts are tightened. The job is accelerated using both the CPU and GPU and then passed to the postprocessor for the final simulation.
A tweetable take-away: A 4-core CPU + FirePro GPU using OpenCL finishes the direct solver 2.9 times faster than running just on a 4-core CPU alone, and 2.2 times faster than running on an 8-core CPU.
Below is a chart showing some raw data comparing multi-core CPUs + FirePro GPU using OpenCL vs multi-core CPU only.
(Note: the GPU-acceleration bump decreases with more CPUs because Abaqus v6.11 splits the job to more CPUs and the GPU ends up doing less work)
Tom's Hardware compares AMD FirePro and Nvidia Quadro cards and drivers using industry standard, publicly available benchmarks, across various anti-aliasing mode. This is a pretty comprehensive summary and directly compares all cards at all price points (Est. Retail Prices ranging from a $119 FirePro V3900 to a $1910 Quadro 5000) directly against each other in full range of benchmarks.
The AMD FirePro V7900 (Est. Retail Price $882) outperforms all cards in Maya, SolidWorks, TeamCenter, NX, CAPS, Lightwave, Ensight. It comes in second behind the Quadro 5000 in Catia and Cinebench. And not surprisingly, it wales when in comes to OpenCL benchmarks.
Performance benchmarks are great, but speed alone is becoming more of a commodity in graphics cards. This video looks at three ways that AMD FirePro graphics benefit SolidWorks users above and beyond the basic performance specs:
Higher productivity with multiple displays
Real-time previews including ambient occlusion in RealView
More accurate designs with full-scene anti-aliasing
This video runs through a comprehensive set of tests that demonstrates the ultra-fast GPU-accelerated (900%) 3D transparency rendering mode in PTC Creo Parametric 2.0 and a 4X increase in shaded 3D frame rates and interactivity using Vertex Buffer Objects (VBO) on AMD FirePro professional graphics cards.
The video shows the percent performance enhancement in FPS for PTC Creo Parametric 2.0 compared to PTC Pro/Engineer Wildfire. Summary results as follows:
This video compares PTC Creo Parametric 2.0 to Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5 for 3D transparency rendering on an AMD FirePro V7900. AMD and PTC developed a new hardware-accelerated transparency feature called Order Independent Transparency (OIT) (See post on ultra-fast GPU-accelerated 3D transparency mode for Creo Parametric 2.0). With the new OIT users can experience up to 900% faster performance in 3D transparency rendering with AMD FirePro professional graphics cards. Check out the video to see the first public example of this. This is impressive.
Tom’s Hardware has a particularly interesting review of AMD’s new entry level ($110) discrete, professional GPU - the AMD FirePro V3900. Tom’s ran a suite of benchmarks and the FirePro V3900 completely dominated Nvidia’s Quadro 400 and beat out the Quadro 600 in most scenario, often by a great margin - particularly in CATIA, Lightwave, Maya, and SolidWorks, and Siemens NX
Notably, the V3900 draws more power in idle and under load than its competitors, but Tom’s still recommend the FirePro V3900.
“The FirePro V3900 is a fitting successor for the V3800. Priced at $110, we consider it to be a good value in the entry-level workstation graphics card space. As long as you’re primarily looking at mostly static CAD images, this card is a good alternative to the low-end Quadro cards, both with respect to price and performance.”
Tom’s also did a quick comparison to comparable chips on consumer cards like the Radeon HD 6570 or Geforce GT 430 and saw massive performance dips due to consumer grade drivers. Conclusion: “For folks whose jobs depend on good performance and validation in money-making applications, paying the extra money (for the professional card and driver) is probably justified.”
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