Quadro 5000 pulls out all the graphics stops

It’s been a long time coming but now the time is upon us.  For many months now ATI has done well.   But the busy people over at Nvidia have now equalled and bettered ATI’s offering at the ultra high end of the market.

Today we take  an exclusive look at the  Nvidia Quadro  5000 sporting 2.5GB of GDDR5 memory and 352 CUDA Cores.   This is a heavyweight in its own right.   This ultra high-end, dual slot unit brings the power of high performance professional computing and offers support for features never previously found on any of the current ultra-high end professional graphics cards. The Nvidia Quadro 5000  comes with certified application support for the industry’s top CAD/CAM, 3D Design, and Digital Content Creation software applications.

For a substantial time Nvidia’s Quadro FX4800 has been one of the most popular professional graphics cards for the professional market. The successor to the card – the Quadro 5000 – is something very exceptional indeed.  

It’s time to look into what makes this card really work.  In order to understand just how much of a technology leap has gone into the card we place beside it the ever so faithful Nvidia Quadro FX4800 as a comparison.

Supported Platforms

  • Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows XP (64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Linux – Full OpenGL implementation, complete with Nvidia and ARB extensions (64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Solaris

3D Graphics Architecture

  • Scalable geometry architecture
  • Hardware tessellation engine
  • Nvidia GigaThread engine with dual copy engines
  • Shader Model 5.0 (OpenGL 4.0 and DirectX 11)
  • Optimized compiler for Cg and Microsoft HLSL
  • Up to 16K x16K texture and render processing
  • Transparent multisampling and super sampling
  • 16x angle independent anisotropic filtering
  • 128-bit floating point performance
  • 32-bit per-component floating point texture filtering and blending
  • 64x full scene antialiasing (FSAA)/128x FSAA in SLI Mode
  • Decode acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2 Advanced Simple Profile, H.264, MVC, VC1, DivX (version 3.11 and later), and Flash (10.1 and later)
  • Blu-ray dual-stream hardware acceleration (supporting HD picture-in-picture playback)

Nvidia CUDA Parallel Processing Architecture
API support includes:

  • CUDA C, CUDA C++, DirectCompute 5.0, OpenCL, Java, Python, and Fortran
  • Nvidia Parallel DataCache hierarchy (configurable L1 and unified L2 caches)
  • Error correction codes (ECC) memory
  • 64 KB of RAM (configurable partitioning of shared memory and L1 cache)
  • Full IEEE 754-2008 – 32-bit and high performance 64-bit double precision
  • Dual Warp Scheduler (schedules and dispatches simultaneously instructions from two independent warps)

Advanced Display Features

  • Dual DisplayPort (up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz and 1920×1200 @ 120Hz)
  • Dual-link DVI-I output (up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz and 1920×1200 @ 120Hz)
  • Internal 400 MHz DAC DVI-I output (analog display up to 2048 x 1536 @ 85Hz)
  • DisplayPort to VGA, DisplayPort to DVI (single-link and dual-link) and DisplayPort to HDMI cables (resolution support based on dongle specifications)
  • DisplayPort 1.1a, HDMI 1.3a, and HDCP support
  • 10-bit internal display processing (hardware support for 10-bit scan out for both windowed desktop and full screen, only available on Windows and Linux with Aero disabled)
  • Nvidia 3D Vision technology, 3D DLP, Interleaved, and other 3D stereo format support
  • Full OpenGL quad buffered stereo support
  • Underscan/overscan compensation and hardware scaling
  • Nvidia nView multi-display technology
  • DisplayPort and HDMI Digital Audio

Support for the following audio modes:

  • Dolby Digital (AC3), DTS 5.1, Multi-channel (7.1) LPCM, Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), andMPEG-2/MPEG-4 AAC
  • Data rates of 44.1 KHz, 48 KHz, 88.2 KHz, 96 KHz, 176 KHz, and 192 KHz
  • Word sizes of 16-bit, 20-bit, and 24-bit

Our array of “in house” test systems has now been fully completed as over the forthcoming months,  many exciting things will be happening.  Both Supermicro and Intel certainly pulled out the stops on their part,  which in turn means we can now demonstrate performance with newer peripherals.  

These are the configurations we decided to use.

Benchmarks and Software Used 64-bit Mode

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional 64-bit SP2
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • SPECapc for SolidWorks 2007
  • SPECviewperf 10.0 64-bit.   Tests ran at 1600 X 1200 Resolution
  • SPECviewperf 11.0 64-bit.   Tests ran at 1920 X 1080 Resolution

Each set of tests has been applied on the clean system hard drives shown above to ensure that no residue drivers were left installed,  with all updates/patches applied.   A test/render has been completed many times over different periods of the system’s uptime.   Whilst maintaining the fair play rules of SPEC  HyperThreading and Turbo Boost have been enabled, with the memory being left in its default status of Auto.   Tests have been conducted in accordance with the resolutions  detailed above @ 59Hz / 60Hz in 32 bit colour.   Results that have been shown within this article are from the application/benchmarks first run in accordance with the SPECviewperf and SPECapc fair play rules.  Not an average of three runs as some think correct.

When we had been first advised of the cards impending arrival we were told it would be a high-quality, high performer  and actually we would have seen nothing like it in a long time.   How right Nvidia was.   This truly is a huge leap in the professional graphic’s industry.   This  offering from Nvidia  is the most significant technological advancement within the professional graphic card industry for quite some time.    Support from Tier 1 and 2  vendors will be enormous and  it will also have support from system integrators and VARS.  

Whilst supporting a beta driver, the Quadro 5000 has leapt up through the scales and we have successfully demonstrated the scalability of the card over its predecessor,  the Quadro FX4800.   In some areas we see a 50 percent increase, and with an FSAA increase up to  64X – on certain OEM systems with the cards in SLI mode we can witness a massive 128X FSAA.    The medical, oil and gas, science and even the financial houses have so much to gain from this card and other technical professionals  who demand nothing but the best out from their workstations.  

Much of this performance improvement is down to the architecture of the new product, some down to the driver team, the unsung heroes that so many forget about.   The results shown within have been extraordinary to say the least.     This card most certainly has overtaken its predecessor in many ways, faster memory, and the aid of 352 CUDA cores  – this will help many in complex drawings and rendered outputs.  Life in the professional graphics card market has just shifted directly into top gear. 

The results shown within SPECviewperf 11 have been astonishing indeed.    This new professional benchmark takes no prisoners at all, as we have witnessed.   Other powerful professional graphics cards have been ground to a halt – for now.    What is noticeable is the Quadro 5000 driver stability and across the board performance on both operating system platforms.   It is very obvious even to the untrained eye  how well tuned each run has returned on the individual operating systems that are quite different in so many aspects.   For those who still use SPECviewperf 10 there are some extreme surprises . This will be our last outing on SPECviewperf 10 as the benchmark now has been retired – but what a way to go.  The results under both Windows 7 and XP Professional will have many aghast with awe at the power from the Quadro 5000.   

The results shown above speak very clearly for themselves and so there was absolutely no need for a running commentary of the results gained from each system.   Time really was completely against us and we only had a short few days to complete all from fresh.    What is conclusive  is that the base line tests from SPECviewperf 11.0 have returned substantial amounts of indisputable results for the Nvidia Quadro 5000 which is exceptional for a low cost ultra high end professional card.  

Within the brief we had been made aware of several other cards in the offing.  The Quadro 4000 and the Quadro 6000.   The Quadro 4000 comes weighing in with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and  256 CUDA Cores. The Quadro 6000 tips the scales with 6GB of onboard memory and 448 CUDA Cores.  The Quadro 6000 is a very specialised card indeed and more to follow on that soon.   The Quadro 4000 slots into the Quadro FX3800 extremely successful remit.  When we have more details on these cards they will be presented to you as quickly as possible.

Pricing and availability
Both Quadro 4000 and Quadro 5000 cards will be shipping now, so with what’s hot off the press will be hot on the resellers’ plate.   We anticipate an exceptional high demand from what we have seen, and with this in mind get the orders in very quickly indeed to avoid disappointment.  

MSRP of the new range are
Quadro 6000 – $4,999 USD  – £3265 UKP – €3866
Quadro 5000 – $2,249 USD  – £1469 UKP – €1740
Quadro 4000 – $1,199 USD  – £785 UKP – €930

Nvidia currently no plans to stop producing the FX4800 and FX5800 cards.  The Quadro FX 3800 will be replaced by the Quadro 4000, but the Quadro FX4800 and Quadro FX5800 will continue to be sold along with the new line up.  However what has been seen today with the performance output and aggressive pricing, then there should be no hesitation at all in swiftly upgrading to the new Quadro range.  

The Quadro 5000 performance is, without a doubt, superb on all the platforms superb.  Final comments and predictions on the way ahead, what has been observed within today has been exceptional and all within Nvidia’s HQ must be quietly pleased with themselves and we are sure that the champagne corks will be firing out with delight.   

Therefore after many months maintaining the lead, ATI has now lost to Nvidia who in turn have regained the illusive Golden Laurel Crown in the Ultra High End place.  

TechEye score: Nine out of ten