It's true that high-end workstation graphics cards may be based on the same core architectures as gaming-targeted graphics cards, however, their purposes are very different. While they both accomplish the same task, processing commands and rendering images on-screen, workstation cards endure a more strenuous existence than their gaming counterparts. Workstation cards are used to solve huge, mission-critical problems, like helping engineers design and build cars; helping architects to plan and construct buildings, and even help oil and gas companies to provide more effective production and transportation methods.
ATI FirePro V8800
ATI FirePro V8750
Comparing the new AMD FirePro V8800 card to the previous generation V8750, we immediately see major differences. A smaller 40nm manufacturing process is accompanied by a much faster 825 MHz GPU and 1600 stream processors. Although memory size remains the same at 2GB, the speed has increased to 1150 MHz on the V8800; this has improved memory bandwidth to 147.2 GB/s. All of these advanced features are sure to upgrade the performance of the V8800.
Like the HD 5870, the V8800 uses a matte black heatsink assembly that houses ATI's dual-slot copper heatpipe cooling solution. The embedded fan exhausts air out of the back of the card and out of the system. Unlike the V8750 which spun loudly at startup, the V8800 powers on quietly and stays that way during normal use. ATI focused on providing a peaceful work environment, even with high end models, and V8800 owners will benefit from it.
The FirePro V8800 sports four DisplayPort connections. That's only a couple DP ports less than the HD5870 Eyefinity 6 videocard we recently tested out. From the looks of it, four fullsized DisplayPort outputs was the most ATI could physically fit on the rear panel of the V8800. More ports would require the use of Mini DisplayPort connections.
On the other end of the card, we find two 6pin power ports. Maximum board power is 208W, but the RV870 GPU is well known for its low power consumption during idle. This is due to aggressive clock gating and voltage reductions when the card is not under significant load.