ATI FirePro V8700 Workstation Graphics Card

New Name, New GPU, New Attitude

ATI has spent much of the last decade producing the FireGL line of high-end workstation graphics cards, regularly challenging and often times besting competing products from Nvidia's Quadro lineup. ATI's last generation of FireGL products, which we covered heavily, were excellent all around performers. It certainly wasn't perfect (a bit too loud, a bit too expensive), but was definitely solid improvements over the generation of FireGL cards which preceded it. Now in late 2008, we're seeing ATI / AMD's first moves to eventually kill off the long-known FireGL brand. Its replacement? The ATI FirePro.

ATI has yet to introduce top to bottom FirePro-class products to replace the FireGL, but it's delivered the first four cards of many to come in the future. The name change makes since, as high-end workstation cards are often used beyond the realm of 3D graphics today. Workstation-class graphics cards are used for physics, general purpose computing, HPC, and for game design, not just for OpenGL based modeling and CAD work. While the new FirePro lineup of cards are certainly just as fast as ever for OpenGL, ATI is doing its best to make it known that the cards are capable of much more.

Sporting a new name, ATI has released four new workstation cards under the FirePro moniker. On the low-end you have the FirePro V3700 followed by the mid-range V3750 and V5700 models, along with the new high-end model which we'll be looking at today, the FirePro V8700. The FirePro V8700 currently reigns as ATI's top-tier flagship FirePro model, as the first workstation-class card to ship which is based on ATI's R700 graphics architecture. As avid readers will no doubt realize, the RV770 is the same architecture which ATI used in its Radeon HD 4x00 lineup for high-end gaming. As the RV770 graphics processor proved to be a smashing success for gamers with the Radeon HD 4850, HD 4870 and HD 4870 X2 cards, ATI is hoping that workstation users will see the same type of benefits.

ATI FirePro V8700 1GB Workstation Graphics Card

Unlike most of the HD 4x00 series lineup for gamers, the FirePro has some additional features to make it to appeal to the professional crowd -- double the memory of most of the gaming series (1 GB), native DisplayPort outputs, stereo output, not to mention customized drivers to accelerate high-end workstation applications. Of course, these additional features and performance don't come cheap, as the new FirePro V8700 card comes with a whopping $1,499 price tag. It may sound daunting at first, but considering that we are expecting this card to deliver the professional-level performance at the same level (or higher) than their previous generation $2,799 FireGL V8650 card, the FirePro is already looking like a relative bargain. Yes--we said relative. Let's continue.

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