Over the last six months we have exclusively looked into some astounding technical accomplishments in the professional graphics market place from both ATI and Nvidia. Each card has its own merits and place, depending upon budget.

We have completed the new Quadro Fermi range from Nvidia - quite something, to say the least.

Finally, the last in this series from ATI, the mighty 4GB FirePro V9800 has hit the beach. This is a very interesting configured professional workstation graphics card which will catch many by surprise for its cost and performance and most importantly for its versatility.

We looked at the FirePro V8800 at its launch back in April. After a further six months careful research and development, today we delve into the new FirePro V9800 and see what it has to offer.

The most significant advancement of the ATI FirePro V9800 is multi display support. Up to six monitors can be supported up to a resolution of Maximum Resolution of 2560x1600 @ 60Hz. This means a dramatic increase in display density and visualiaation capability for markets from medical imaging to DCC, CAD and digital signage.

Taking this into consideration let’s take a swift look at the variances within the features table between the FirePro V9800 and FirePro V8750 cards to gain some idea of the comparisons and how much of a technology leap is on the cards.

specifications

Technical Specifications
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 (64-bit and 32-bit)
We all thought that the ATI FirePro V8800 was something to behold, but this really is something very special from ATI.


For six months the ATI FirePro V8800 has maintained the wealth as being one of the most popular ultra high-end professional graphic's cards to be found within the professional market. Not any more, as the ATI FirePro V9800 will be having many readers licking their lips at just what has taken over. With all the basic facts in place we now get down to the meat and veg.

V9800 card

System Set-Up and Software Used
We have on several outings shown the mighty Supermicro X8SAX ATX workstation mainboard as our platform of choice as this is an extremely vogue set-up, liked by many tier 1 and system integrators. In maintaining continuity of our "in house" test platforms we head out once more with the system that kicks sand in the eyes of others.

System setup

Benchmarks and Software Used 64-bit Mode
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Cinebench 11.5 64-bit
Redway Turbine Benchmark
SPECapc for 3ds Max 9
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 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.

cinebench

gpu

redway

SPECapc

full SPEC results

Conclusion
From our initial presentation and sneak look we knew just from the visual outputs witnessed that this was to be something special.

With an MRSP price tag of $3,499, it fits the bill perfectly in many areas. The key to the whole card is the huge multi display output. But what of performance output whilst hooked up to all these monitors? We have been advised of an approximate 10 percent drop when fully enabled for all six displays. In a few weeks we will be able to accurately report back as we will be testing the card and the system with a complete suite of monitors.So watch this space. ATI Eyefinity Technology looks to be one important piece of technology for the forthcoming months as more monitor manufacturers are examing what they can also get from the kit.

The actual positioning of the new ATI FirePro V9800 is aimed squarely at the most demanding of studios and design centres that require the best of outputs. This is a card that will have the studios, architectural companies and perceptive professionals screaming with desire.

With today’s ISV software packages for example Max, Maya and Solidworks so many commercial plugins are now readily available to enhance the packages. Add into place the combination of the ATI FirePro S400 Sync Module offering full hardware synchronisation with support for up to 4 GPUs per module - a possible 24 Synchronized Outputs per PC.

With this comes demand upon the whole system I/O and the professional cards. In order to meet the demands of these packages, the hardware and supporting Application Acceleration Tools have to be precise - for example the Stereoscopic/Quad-buffered 3D Rendering Pipeline. The investment is paying off with tremendous uptakes in many arenas of the professional industry - Medical, Oil and Gas, Science and even the Financial houses have much to gain.

Much of the 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 ATI FirePro V9800 from the beginning of October should be hitting Resellers, SIs and VARs. Its price should be in the region of - $3,499 USD - £2220 - €2576, before shipping and local taxes. We foresee high demand.