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AMD ATI FirePro V8750 Workstation Graphics Card
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Date: Jul 28, 2009
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction and Specifications


When doing research for a new graphics card, mainstream users might come across a professional workstation-class video card and wonder what all the fuss is about. On the surface, one must look at the enormous price differences and question the justification when technically the hardware used to build the cards is very similar. But those that use workstation GPUs know that these products carry the driver support for specific 3D rendering programs that mainstream video cards do not. While they both accomplish the same basic tasks of processing commands and rendering images on a display, workstation cards are
for engineering, digital content creation, and scientific modeling applications--not gaming. And as such, their target audiences are very different.

Late last year, we reviewed AMD's flagship FirePro workstation graphics card, the V8700. It was the first professional video card based on the RV770 graphics processor and it impressed us with its performance and relative affordability. Half a year later, AMD has released a new ultra high end product that promises to pick up where the V8700 left off. The FirePro V8750 sports the same RV770 GPU and 800 shader processors, but offers improved memory performance by way of 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 900MHz, which offers 115GB/s of peak bandwidth.



AMD ATI FirePro V8750 Workstation Graphics Card



AMD FirePro V8700

  • AMD RV770 Graphics Processor
  • 55nm Manufacturing Process
  • 750 MHz GPU Clock Speed
  • 800 Stream Processors
  • Shader Model 4.1 (DirectX 10.1) and OpenGL 2.1 Support
  • 1 GB of GDDR-5 Memory
  • 850 MHz GDDR-5 Clock Speed
  • 256-bit Memory Controller
  • 108 GB/s Memory Bandwidth
  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 Connector
  • 2 x 6-pin Power Connectors
  • Dual Slot Copper Cooling System
  • Standard Length Card (EATX Not Required)
  • 2 x DisplayPort, 1 x DL-DVI Outputs
  • Stereoscopic Output
  • Genlock/Framelock Compatible
  • Crossfire 2.0 Multi-GPU Connector
  • Supports Windows XP and Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, Solaris

  • MSRP : $1,499 USD

AMD FirePro V8750

  • AMD RV770 Graphics Processor
  • 55nm Manufacturing Process
  • 750 MHz GPU Clock Speed
  • 800 Stream Processors
  • Shader Model 4.1 (DirectX 10.1) and OpenGL 2.1 Support
  • 2 GB of GDDR-5 Memory
  • 900 MHz GDDR-5 Clock Speed
  • 256-bit Memory Controller
  • 115 GB/s Memory Bandwidth
  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 Connector
  • 2 x 6-pin Power Connectors
  • Dual Slot Copper Cooling System
  • Standard Length Card (EATX Not Required)
  • 2 x DisplayPort, 1 x DL-DVI Outputs
  • Stereoscopic Output
  • Genlock/Framelock Compatible
  • Crossfire 2.0 Multi-GPU Connector
  • Supports Windows XP and Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, Solaris

  • MSRP : $1,799 USD



Comparing the new AMD FirePro V8750 card to the previous generation V8700, not very much has changed in the grand scheme of things. But the improvements in memory speed and capacity immediately stand out. AMD had doubled the amount of GDDR5 memory from 1GB to 2GB and raised its frequency from 850MHz to 900MHz. We also see a bandwidth bump from 108GB/s to 115GB/s as a result.

The FirePro V8750 includes two native DisplayPort outputs, one DVI connector, a stereo output, and customized drivers to accelerate 3D modeling applications. But these features also carry a hefty price tag. The FirePro V8750 sells for $1,799 which is about three times the cost of the most expensive dual-GPU gaming card. Lets take a closer look at what all this money gets you. 
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The FirePro V8750 Card

It is difficult to tell the difference between the V8700 and the new V8750. Physically, they look identical except for the V8750 label found on the heatsink shroud. Both the V8700 and V8750 share many of the same PCB attributes as a Radeon HD 4870 card, although there are some slight differences.


The FirePro V8750 uses a shiny 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. During startup, the fan spins loudly for a few seconds but is very quiet during normal day to day use. We rarely even heard the fan after startup. Compared to previous high end FireGL cards, the quieter working environment is a welcomed improvement.

If you flip the card over and inspect the backside of the PCB, you can see that the FirePro V8750 has a modern CrossfireX compatible multi-GPU connector. However, AMD does not support multi-GPU operation on the FirePro lineup just yet in any other OS but XP, so these connectors are somewhat useless at this point in time for users of other operating systems. For the record, you can integrate multiple FireGL/Pro cards into the same system and have them run independently with any OS, but AMD does not support linking multiple cards together for enhanced workstation-application performance yet on anything but XP. On the other side of the PCB, around the Crossfire connectors, you can see the necessary connectors for connecting Genlock/Framelock daughter boards.


The FirePro V8750 sports two DisplayPort connectors, along with a single dual-link DVI output. Keep in mind, very few monitors actually support the DisplayPort interface. Also, you can not use all three ports simultaneously as the card only supports using two displays at a time. The card uses a PCI Express 2.0 x16 interface and requires two 6-pin PCIe power connections.  

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Testbed & Cinebench R10

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: In order to provide comparable results, each graphics card was installed on the same, high end test system. The components we used consisted of an Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard, Core i7 920 processor, and 6GB of Crucial Ballistix Tracer memory. Within the BIOS, we configured the processor and memory to their rated specifications of 2.66GHz and 1600MHz respectively. The Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive was formatted before installing a clean copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1. Once the installation was completed, we fully updated the OS and installed the latest drivers and applications relevant to the test system.
 

HotHardware's Test System
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 920 (2.66GHz)

Asus Rampage II Extreme Motherboard
(X58 Express Chipset)

ATI FirePro V8750 2GB
ATI FirePro V8700 1GB
nVidia QuadroCX 1.5GB
nVidia QuadroFX 4800 1.5GB

6GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1600
(3 X 2GB) 8-8-8-24 1T


Western Digital Raptor 160GB
(10,000RPM - SATAII)

Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit SP1
ATI Catalyst Control Center

ATI Catalyst Display Driver 9.7
NVIDIA GeForce Drive 185.87

Benchmarks Used:

Cinebench R10 64bit
SPEC Viewperf R10
3DMark Vantage 64bit
Crysis


* - Custom benchmark

Cinebench R10 Synthetic OpenGL Rendering Performance
Higher Scores Are Better

Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. The benchmark goes through a series of tests that measures the performance of the CPU and graphics card under real world circumstances. Within Cinebench, the second test runs inside a 3D editor window and logs the maximum speed with which the scene is displayed. 


Among the four workstation cards we tested, ATI's FirePro V8750 pulled away from the pack and produced the highest score using the Cinebench OpenGL test. In fact, both ATI cards bested NVIDIA's products in this benchmark. The increase in memory size and speed of the V8750 pays off in this case. Cinema 4D users that want the best performance should take note. 
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SPEC Viewperf R10 x64

 
SPECviewperf 10 measures the 3D rendering performance of systems running under OpenGL. It uses data sets that are designed for and used by real world applications. The benchmark was initially developed by IBM but is now updated by SPECCopcSM's project group. This latest version provides the ability to compare performance of high quality graphics modes that use anti-aliasing and also measures how effectively graphics supsystems scale during multithreaded content. All results are given in frames per second.
 
Workstation OpenGL Performance
Higher Numbers Are Better





The V8750 absolutely dominates the Maya benchmark and provides the best results during Ensight testing by a few frames per second. But both ATI cards come up short during the CATIA (Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application) portion of SPECviewperf 10.
 
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SPEC Viewperf R10 (Continued)

 
Workstation OpenGL Performance
Higher Numbers Are Better





Again, the V8750 provides the fastest performance in two of four benchmarks, ugnx and TCvis. While it does show improvement over its predecessor, the V8700, during the ProE and SolidWorks tests, both ATI cards trail their NVIDIA-built counterparts by large margins. 
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3DMark Vantage & Crysis

 

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024.


Crysis v1.21
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


Crysis

If you're at all into enthusiast computing, the highly anticipated single player, FPS smash-hit Crysis, should require no introduction. Crytek's game engine produces some stunning visuals that are easily the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen on the PC to date.  The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as some of the most impressive use of Shader technology we've seen yet.  In short, for those of you that want to skip the technical jib-jab, Crysis is a beast of a game.  We ran the full game patched to v1.21 with all of its visual options set to 'High' to put a significant load on the graphics cards being tested  A custom demo recorded on the Ice level was used throughout testing.

Obviously the V8750 is not designed for gaming, but we still wanted to show its performance in this area. In Vantage, it proved to be a solid performer by scoring about 700 3Dmarks higher than the V8700. But Crysis only showed a small improvement over the V8700. 
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Power Consumption & Noise

 
We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems were consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

 
Power Consumption
Lower Numbers Are Better

 




Our Core i7 quad-core system consumed 312 watts during load and sipped 249 watts in an idle state. Considering the high end hardware being used, we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of power it required.

We'd also like to point out that the V8750 remained quiet throughout most of the testing. It was almost inaudible over our case fans and we only heard it rev up for a short time while it was under a heavy load during our 3DMark Vantage testing. 

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Conclusion

Performance Summary: Going into this evaluation, we wanted to see how well the V8750 did against the top workstation cards currently available, including its predecessor, the V8700. After several benchmarks, its clear that the V8750 is a stronger performer than the V8700, but the performance deltas are not very big. Yes, it managed to outperform the V8700 in every single test we conducted, but usually only by a couple of frames per second. But to be fair, we didn't expect to see earth shattering improvements by simply doubling the available frame buffer memory while leaving the GPU clocked at the same frequency.

 


At $1,799, the FirePro V8750 costs a few hundred dollars more than the V8700, which was $1,400 at launch. A quick search online shows that you can find the V8700 for under $1,000 at several e-tailers. While this is likely due to shops clearing out inventory for new product, it does put a damper on the initial MSRP of the V8750. Of course, in time, the V8750's street price will fall significantly, as it did for the V8700.

AMD took the fastest workstation graphics card in its line up and doubled the available memory to 2GB while giving its memory a slight speed boost to 900MHz. Sporting dual DisplayPort outputs and a quiet cooling solution, the V8750 offers professional users excellent performance that is properly tuned for the workstation market. Is this the card for you? Despite showing only small increases in performance over the previous flagship model, progress has been made as the FirePro V8750 is now the fastest AMD workstation-class card on the market, and the most powerful offered by AMD. If you're looking for a cutting edge workstation-class graphics card, you've definitely found it.

  • The fastest AMD workstation graphics card
  • Low Noise Cooling Solution
  • DisplayPort and Dual-Link DVI Ports

 

  • Not much of an upgrade over the V8700
  • Expensive at $1,799

 



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