AMD Launches New Entry-Level FirePro V3900

AMD's Financial Analyst Day last week contained very little information about the company's plans for its workstation graphics division, but Sunnyvale remains committed to professional graphics. That was the emphatic message from the FirePro personnel we spoke to about this launch; we'll have a review of the card up in the not-too-distant future. The V3900 replaces the V3800 and is the entry-level counterpart to the V5900 and V7900 we reviewed earlier this year.

Compared to its predecessor, the V3900 is a major upgrade. It sports double the RAM (1GB), uses the Turks GPU derived from AMD's 6800-series, doubles the available memory bandwidth (to 28.8GB, up from 14.4),and supports the latest versions of OpenGL and OpenCL (4.2 and 1.1 respectively). Raw compute performance as measured in single-precision GFlops is also 20 percent higher, at 624 GFlops. The MSRP of $119 is a tad higher than the $99 tag on the V3800, but the V3900's additional performance should more than justify the higher price tag.

AMD claims that the V3900 outperforms both the Quadro 400 and the V3800 in a wide range of tests. The hardware specs on the cards make this likely--the Quadro 400 and the V3800 are well matched as far as RAM loadout and memory bandwidth--but we'll be following up with our own benchmarks as well.

Cutting into Nvidia's Turf:

Nvidia has dominated professional graphics for years; the company currently holds ~80% of the professional market. When we asked AMD about this disparity, the company confirmed that they were fighting to gain share but noted that the current 80/20 split is a marked improvement over the 90/10 break of 3-4 years ago. Thus far, AMD's push into the workstation space has been centered around aggressive MSRPs and providing features Nvidia has yet to match. Eyefinity is one of the best examples.

None of Nvidia's entry or midrange cards support more than two displays; the company's cheapest triple-display options debut around the $400 mark. AMD, in contrast, bills the V3900 as capable of driving up to five displays. Granted, there's a significant caveat--you'll need DP 1.2 support and a separate hub--but if you need to drive that many screens off a single low-end card, it's possible to do so.

The V3900 will also ship with a half-height bracket to ensure it fits into small form factor systems and is expected to debut in systems from HP with ISV certification from Fujitsu-Siemens following in the spring.