GRAPHICS CHIP DESIGNER AMD has updated its workstation range of cards, releasing the Firepro V5900 and Firepro V7900.
AMD has enjoyed impressive growth in the professional graphics market with IDC citing that it gained six per cent market share during the course of 2010. Now AMD has released two workstation video cards based on its Northern Islands Cayman GPU that will slot into the firm's mid-range and high-end product range.
AMD's Firepro V5900 is based on the Cayman LE GL chip featuring 512 stream processors. There is 2GB of GDDR5 memory with bandwidth of 64GB/s. Output options are in the form of two Displayport 1.2 connections and a single dual-link DVI port. There is the option to Crossfire two boards together, and as the Firepro V5900 has a TDP of just 75W, that's not such a silly idea.
To replace AMD's Firepro V7800, the firm has put out what on the face of it seems a questionable choice as an upgrade, the Firepro V7900. Of course there is the Cayman GPU and a hefty increase in memory bandwidth to 160GB/s, though onboard memory remains at 2GB and the TDP has risen to 150W. AMD points out that the Firepro V7900 relieves the need for customers to shell out more cash for a Firepro V8800 in order to get quad display support and, through an optional break-out box, there's stereoscopic 3D support.
Both AMD's Firepro V5900 and V7900 cards support Displayport 1.2, which allows for monitors to be daisy-chained so one Displayport can support four displays. The only problem is that displays with Displayport 1.2 support are not expected to tip up until the fourth quarter of 2011.
Like all workstation video cards from AMD and Nvidia, what you are really paying for is the qualification. Consumers can get their hands on Cayman GPU boards for a lot less than either Firepro board, but for those who work in CAD, CAM and 3D modelling, the ability to say that the equipment has been factory qualified to repeatedly produce accurate results is worth thousands.
AMD has said that both the Firepro V5900 and the Firepro V7900 will ship on 24 May, with price tags of around £370 and £620, respectively. Dell is the first system builder to pick up AMD's latest and greatest with its Precision T3500, T5500 and T7500 all featuring the card. HP has said that it will offer the latest AMD Firepro cards as options in its Z210, Z400, Z600 and Z800 workstations when they debut on 1 July. µ
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