Back in September, we gave
an in depth look at NVIDIA's flagship Workstation Graphics
card, the Quadro 4 900 XGL. Last week we were briefed via
teleconference, by a couple of members of the NVIDIA
Workstation/Professional Graphics team, with respect to what
the NV gang has been up to since that time. They were
excited to show us their heightened emphasis and focus on the
Workstation Graphics space and the products they have lined
up to service this market. Although we did gain some
insight into what lies ahead for NV30 incarnations of NVIDIA
Workstation products, we were sworn to secrecy until the
designated launch date. There is no question, this is
a product that has potential to blow the lid off Workstation
Graphics design but for now, we're in wait and see mode.
However, the Quadro 4, which
is based on a superset of NVIDIA's GeForce 4 core but
optimized for the Workstation MCAD and DCC environments, certainly has
"legs" for some time to come. This is due in part to
recent architectural enhancements that have been implemented in the
core GPU. In addition, NVIDIA is
driving more cost effective permutations into the
Product Line-up and Mid-Life Kickers For The
New boards and
continued to flesh out an family of Workstation products,
now with renewed performance characteristic, based on AGP 8X
implementations. In addition, this is not just a
validation of the chip in an AGP 8X compliant board level
design. In fact the design team at NVIDIA has made
enhancements at the silicon level, which will allow these
products to more efficiently utilize the bandwidth of the
higher performance AGP 8X bus, at 2.1GB/sec.
Quadro 4 Line-up
Click image for full view
As you can see,
there are many new flavors of the Quadro now. Some of
these, the mid range and high end products, will be based on
NV25GL cores, while others, entry level and "professional 2D"
products, will be based on the NV17GL core.
product is not one of those mock-ups or falsified shots,
that we've seen circulated around the net over the years,
for various pipe dream product concepts. Rather it is
a Quad Monitor capable version of the Quadro 4 200 NVS,
which is based on an NV17 implementation. This product
should play fairly competitively in the Professional Desktop
space, in environments like financial institutions, where
multi-display setups are a prerequisite. Additionally,
boasting top honors from the folks at Display Mate
Technologies, for their overall image and signal source
Performance Of The New Quadro 4
NVIDIA's numbers, which we
hope to prove out in the months ahead
When it comes to
performance expectations of these new AGP 8X capable Quadros,
we may see better results, than what we've seen from the
NVIDIA consumer/gaming product offering thus far. Here
are some very general benchmark metrics provided to us by
900 XGL Versus Quadro 4 980 XGL W/ AGP 8X
Click image for full view
Again, we want
to be very clear that these charts and benchmarks are
obviously NVIDIA generated numbers. We will reserve
full analysis and comment for when we have the products in
our lab and can see the results first hand. However,
in some applications, like ProEngineer, MCAD Designers may
be able to realize up to a 30% boost versus an AGP 4X based
Key To Workstation Graphics
A costly and support intensive
effort for full compliance and compatibility
An area that
often gets overlooked with respect to Workstation product
evaluations, in the media, especially with on line sources,
is Design and Content Creation Software certification.
Validation and compatibility certification however is a
costly and time consuming effort for the Workstation
Graphics hardware OEM.
In fact, we are
confident that this is part of the reason why Workstation
boards, based on nearly identical chipsets of their Gaming
counterparts, can cost up to 4 times as much. To get a
product certified on MCAD software platforms such as Autodesk CAD 2002, Solidworks,
ProEngineer, as well as DCC
products such as Ailias Wavefront, 3D Studio Max,
Lightwave, is no easy task and takes a team of engineers to
support. In short, NVIDIA has full certifications with
virtually all the major Workstation software partners.
This is something that can not be said for all competitors
in this market.
We've given you
a quick take here, on what NVIDIA has in store for the
Quadro 4 line in the weeks and months ahead.
Certainly, this "mid-life kicker" should bring further
penetration for the graphics giant, into the Workstation
market that they are already garnering a large percentage
share in. In addition, these new product introductions
for the entry level and 2D Professional/Multi-Monitor
markets, should give traction in areas where the likes of
Matrox and others play more seriously.
question is, how long before we see an NV30 based Quadro?
With the Gaming version of the product seemingly targeted
for sometime this quarter with an early Q1 full production
ramp, one could hazard a guess that Q2 is more than likely.
However, we'll only speculate so far but rather promise to
keep you up to date with facts, as we are authorized to
release them for general consumption.