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AMD Releases FirePro V5900 and V7900 Workstation GPUs 55

primesuspect writes "Today AMD released two new workstation GPUs: The FirePro V5900 and V7900, aimed at the mid- and high-end workstation card market."
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AMD Releases FirePro V5900 and V7900 Workstation GPUs

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  • I guess I mostly don't care since neither major GPU manufacturer wants to come up with a naming structure that makes a lick of sense. Honestly, You could use a random number generator, I always just end up looking up benchmarks to figure out which cards are better than others. There's nothing in the names.

    Oh, and that's why this press release is so pointless.

    Also, in other news, processor manufacturers are in the same boat. You know why nobody (read: avg consumers) buys top end processors? Because from
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      I think you're right. People are lazy, so they won't do any research apart from (maybe) reading what's indicated on the labels below the computers. And when they can't make an informed decision, they go with the cheapest choice.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @11:51AM (#36229552)

        Lazy? I asked slashdot, and read up for a good two months, and the best advice was to compare performance using something like Tom's Hardware. Not knowing what the apps I wanted to use would actually use, the results were largely meaningless.

        I was not about to look up the GPU for every card listed on every computer I might buy, along with the upgrades available for each, so I could look those up on a chart to see their performance. I did piles of research and still did not have enough to make an informed decision, short of making a huge database of everything I came across. I've done that before, but this amount of data quickly became ridiculous, and by the time I decided on one model it was no longer available. I gave up then.

        I ultimately looked at the specs of something in my price range and since it had HDMI, Intel onboard video got my business. This part of the crowd does not care. for nearly everyone, my advice has been and will continue to be, buy the cheapest thing you can find, it will do what you want.

        • by karnal (22275)

          Let's face it - you weren't lazy, but you also didn't come to the table with expectations. Not knowing what applications you want to use would probably be akin to going to a car/truck dealership and not knowing what you'd like your new vehicle to be able to do for you. And at that point - you could walk off the lot with an SUV when a compact car would have done the trick.

      • by sjames (1099)

        If by lazy, you mean too busy living to learn an entirely new language that bears only passing resemblance to anything spoken by non marketing droids, then yes.

      • by marnues (906739)
        There's nothing lazy about it. It's a confusing topic and the manufacturers and reviewers both seem to be on board with aiding the confusion. No, most people with a real budget that I know really do research. It may not be good research, but knowing where good research comes from is in itself a complex task.
    • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:38AM (#36227852)
      The consumer cards actually do make sense. For nVidia, it's "first number is the generation, second number is the part within that generation" - a 580 is better than a 570, but worse than a 590. Likewise, a 480 is newer than a 280, but not as new as a 580. You can also generally make the assertion that cards with the same ending numbers, but different generations, will fill the same role (and same rough price), but the newer one will be slightly better. AMD/ATI uses four numbers, but the last is always a 0 and can be ignored. They essentially follow a similar patter - first number is generation, middle two are part within that generation, and last one is a zero (to make it look cooler). So a 5870 is better than a 5770, but not as good as a 5970. And a 5970 is older than a 6990, but newer than a 4970. AMD recently changed how their within-generation numbers go, so you can't just assume that, say, a 6970 will outperform a 5970 (it won't, actually), but comparisons within a generation are still good. And these are hardly new - ATI/AMD has used that patten since 2006, while nVidia has been using theirs since 2008 (prior to that, they had a 4-digit number (really two digits with a 00 at the end) and a few letters).

      The workstation cards, though, are an absolute mess. About the only claim you can even generally defend is that "bigger numbers are better". And even that is rather iffy. And trying to figure out which consumer card a workstation card was based on requires an encyclopedia of them.

      While I imagine workstation cards can get away with having non-linear names like that (since anyone buying a $3,500 graphics card will do their research), I imagine even professionals get confused by it all easily.
      • They really should stick to a more streamlined naming scheme.

        I got it:
        Slow but Cheap
        Fast Enough for Youtube HD
        Faster for Most Games
        Fastest for epeen
        Rip Off for anything other than 3 monitors

        Then tack on '10, '11, etc for the year and you're golden.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        So is a 9700 faster than a 5770?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        You're just oh so wrong.
        Nvidia used to use 4 digits (FX 5xxx, 6xxx, 7xxx, 8xxx, 9xxx), then they went to 2xx.

        After 2xx they went to 4xx. Along the way they peppered in a few 1xx and 3xx parts that nobody bought (they were all rebadges of the defective G92 chips. The 9xxx and early 2xx were also defective. The revamps in the 8xxx (8800 GT, and the second revision of the 8800 GTS) line were also defective. Then they went to 5xx.

        The last number hasn't always been 0, either. There's the GTX 285, for exampl

    • I feel like it just doesn't make sense to purposefully confuse the public by not coming up with reasonable names.

      I agree, but... if they were to try to create a naming scheme that could be understood by the average Wal-Mart shopper, they would still fail.

      I would want a GPU name to convey:

      - Number of pipelines
      - Speed/Capability of pipelines
      - Amount of memory
      - Speed of memory
      - Software compliance (itself a multidimensional variable)

      So, when I compare a VP350UG266-G2X11 to a VP350SG233-G2X11, I know that what I'm getting is more video memory, but at a lower speed, and the same pipe

    • by Lennie (16154)

      Actually this is true in any field. PR is just PR and a way to confuse consumers to sell them stuff they don't need.

  • Here comes the Press Release train! Next stop; Slashdot! Any details to disembark? Any at all? Nope, ok then, onwards to the next destination!

    Seriously? One sentence? GFY submitter and editor both.
    • by Ant P. (974313)

      People are going to keep submitting blogspam until it starts hurting them in the wallet, so I just added * to my DNS blacklist. No ad revenue or eyeballs for them from my network now and never.

  • between a 300W $500 high-end gaming video card and a $500 "workstation" card that consumes half the power? What is missing from the workstation card?

    • Not sure myself but I assume the consumer model is all about the flashy numbers game with 12 centillion polygons per second while the workstation model is about reliability and stability. Most often the workstation model has better drivers and gone through OpenGL testing and certification.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:26AM (#36227710) Journal
      Typically, the "workstation" card makes you pay out the nose per unit silicon(though, at the same time, the top of the "workstation" range is going to be the only place to find the maximum RAM available to that generation, along with genlock and similar); but the "gamer" card will probably skimp on things like double-precision math and drivers that don't suck for anything other than playing Metal of Duty Crysis Evolved.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The main difference is driver support. The workstation cards are designed for rendering CAD/3D visualizations/physics where they do not drop frames. A gaming card can drop a frame here and there because it doesn't really matter, you drop a frame in a physics simulation and you have to start over.

    • by edxwelch (600979)

      3d content creation apps typically use opengl commands that aren't used for games and these cards are optimised to make those commands run faster.
      (The article mentions a feature called GeometryBoost)

      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        That's important. If that's the case, if I have X-Plane (a flight sim that uses OpenGL and not DirectX) it would be better to use a workstation card than a typical DirectX gaming card, I assume?


        • by AJH16 (940784)

          Probably not worth it as X-Plane would still be optimized geometries. In workstation graphics, you have far weirder, less optimal situations that you encounter while working on modeling and such before optimizations are applied. Both NVidia and ATI have gotten better at having solid OpenGL native support in their gamer cards. As a general rule of thumb, if you don't know why you need a workstation graphics card, you don't need a workstation graphics card.

      • by AJH16 (940784)

        Put another way, if you don't know why you need a workstation graphics card, you probably don't need one. Particularly since the OpenGL support has gotten much better in both ATI and Nvidia cards as of late.

        • by StikyPad (445176)

          And yet, if the price is the same (as it now appears to be), wouldn't it be better to get the workstation card and have all the features of the consumer card and then some?

      • by makomk (752139)

        Or in the case of NVidia's current generation of cards, the performance of 3D content creation apps depends OpenGL commands that aren't performance-critical for games, so NVidia's consumer cards are pessimised to make those commands artifically slow. (Specifically, texture upload and readback is artifically restricted to be slower than on the previous generation of NVidia cards, which weren't crippled in this way. This makes them useless for running stuff like Maya.)

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      Well, that $500 workstation card is a lot less powerful. Workstation cards are priced MUCH higher than their gamer equivelants - a FirePro V7800 is essentially a Radeon HD 5850 (clocked 50mHz lower, actually). Only real difference is the drivers they use. And the price tag - the FirePro costs $649, while the Radeon costs $349. And some of the higher-end ones get ridiculous - current going price for a V9800 is upwards of three grand.

      As for how they can get away with that, I have no idea. Same way Microsoft
      • As for how they can get away with that, I have no idea. Same way Microsoft can charge $300 for an Ultimate Edition OS, or how Apple can charge a fortune for a 133mHz increase in clock speed.

        They can get away with it because workstation cards are not intended for consumers in general and gamers in particular. Workstation cards are normally tested and certified for OpenGL/OpenCL and not DirectX which makes them cost more. They are also built with reliability and stability in mind than raw numbers like polygons per second. Workstation cards generally handle things like Maya better.

        To use an analogy, digital cameras run the gamut from $100 to $10000. You might wonder how Canon can get away wit

        • by gman003 (1693318)
          Except for one thing: the cards are essentially identical. The processor, the memory, all that is essentially identical. You can, with some difficulty (there's heavy DRM on this part) reflash a gamer card to function as a workstation card or vice versa. The difference is essentially all in software - the workstation drivers have been optimized for accuracy, producing subpixel-perfect images, and are mainly tested (as you said) for OpenGL. The gamer drivers have been incredibly optimized for speed - trading
          • They cards are identical if you choose to ignore details that are not important to you. In the example you provided, a HD 5850 might have the same amount of DDR5 RAM as the FirePro 3D v7800 but you didn't see that the FirePro RAM is 256 bit wide while the 5850 is only 128 for twice the bandwidth. Also the 7800 supports single and double precision while the 5850 does not mention it. It can probably do it but that aspect is something that they are not going to test on a consumer card. Lastly the 7800 supp

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Different processors. The $500 workstation card is more similar to a $250 gaming card, only modified for real work (3D modeling, GPGPU number crunching, etc.) at high precision, with drivers to match and certification from the major names (autoCAD, etc.). That's what you're paying the premium for.

      This V7900 is between a 6870 and a 6950 in terms of hardware and the v5900 is between a 6670 and 6750.

    • by Skynyrd (25155) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @12:04PM (#36229722) Homepage

      between a 300W $500 high-end gaming video card and a $500 "workstation" card that consumes half the power? What is missing from the workstation card?

      What's missing from the card? Certification for SolidWorks, Inventor, etc is missing from the consumer card.

  • How soon until you can emulate an x86 instruction set on one of these? Sure, architectural differences make it an apples and oranges comparison, but I wonder how far such a project could go...

    • I'm pretty sure GPU's are Turing-complete, which means that they can implement any algorithm, just like any CPU. However, they'd be dog slow - just because they can crunch lots of data in parallel doesn't mean they'd be able to do the same if the instructions were in x86 format. Common things like branches aren't handled well on the GPU - and some studies have shown that about one in every four instructions is a branch. Also, there's lots of very specific hardware beyond the more general-purpose math-type s

  • An Actual Summary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by YojimboJango (978350) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:32AM (#36227782)

    A summary since we don't seem to have a good one here:
    AMD releases two new video cards targeted at the CAD type audience competing with the Quadro line from Nvidia. The hardware itself isn't anything you couldn't find in your average high end gaming card, but new but they've done stupid amount of driver optimisation for design work which is why these cards cost more. More interesting though is how (comparatively) low AMD has priced these models ($599 and $999).

    From the Article:
    "We’ll do a follow-up article with the charts and graphs that the more pedantic among you expect, along with some interesting comparisons to other products, but in the meantime, I will summarize it with this: In SpecViewperf 11, the V7900 is about neck-and-neck with the $4000 NVIDIA Quadro 6000, and in some tests exceeded the legendary Q6000."

    • Yeah, I bought one of those "stupidly optimized" workstation cards to go with AutoDesk Inventor - as recommended by the AutoDesk certified training center professionals.

      Damn card would power-spike the system bus and cause a power-fail reboot every time certain rotate operations were performed - real helpful it was.

You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer.