First Look Review: ATI FireGL V73501 May, 2006 By: Ron LaFon
1GB RAM graphics card
ATI Technologies just released two new products in its FireGL line of graphics cards: the V7300 and the V7350. Both are listed as ultrahigh-performance cards. The primary difference between the two is that the FireGL V7300 comes with 512MB of memory while the V7350, which I tested, provides 1GB of onboard GDDR3 (graphics double data rate, v3) memory. The V7350 is the first readily available graphics card to offer that much base memory.
A double-width graphics card, the FireGL V7350 requires an additional slot space when installed to accommodate its thickness. Both the V7300 and the V7350 include two dual-link DVI-I output connectors. They support single 9-megapixel monitors at a resolution of 3840×2400 or dual-display output at 2560×1600 per screen. The V7350 also supports the 16-bit per color component of HDR (high dynamic range) displays.
The new ATI FireGL V7350 graphics card features 1GB of onboard memory and two dual-link DVI-I outputs.
ATI FireGL products support stereoscopic 3D viewing through a built-in connector. Quad-buffered stereo pairs result in a smooth animation of both left and right alternating views.
For this review, I used a new Polywell PolyStation 939CF-V7350 workstation that, as the system name indicates, housed a new ATI FireGL V7350 graphics card. The workstation featured an AMD Athlon64 FX-60 dual-core processor supported by the ATI X200CF chipset on an Asus A8R-MVP motherboard. It was equipped with 2GB RAM and came with Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 preinstalled. I'll review the system in more detail in an upcoming issue.
ATI FireGL V7350
With ATI graphics driver v.126.96.36.199 installed, I ran the system through Cadalyst's normal course of benchmark tests: the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark on AutoCAD 2005, MAXBench 4 on 3ds max 8 with service pack 2 installed, and the ProE-03 viewset of SPEC ViewPerf 8.10 (www.spec.org. All tests were conducted using the application-specific settings in the base Windows driver with Wait for Vertical Retrace disabled. Each change to these optimal settings required a system reboot to take effect. Although I typically could hear the fan on the V7350, it didn't rise to levels that I would consider noisy.
On the Cadalyst C2006 benchmark, the FireGL V7350 posted a total index score of 145. For the MAXBench4 benchmark, I tested using the default video drivers alone and again with the ATI MAXimum 2.0.5646 accelerated driver for 3ds max. With the default Windows driver, the averaged high/low scores were 73.25. When I ran the benchmark with the MAXimum driver for 3ds max, the averaged high/low score jumped to 107.88.
On the ProE-03 viewset from Spec ViewPerf 8.10, the V7350 produced a weighted geometric mean score of 58.32. Although these are not the highest scores I've seen on these benchmarks, they are respectable. If you have large or particularly complex models that can take advantage of the 1GB of memory on the V7350, you'll likely see significant performance benefits.
The unified drivers for FireGL workstation cards are based on the same code source as ATI's Catalyst drivers, but add an OpenGL component specific to the FireGL line. The unified drivers work with both AGP and PCIe FireGL graphics cards and provide full support for Shader model 3.0 and OpenGL 2. ATI drivers for the FireGL line are certified for an array of CAD/CAM and engineering applications.
The ATI FireGL V7300 and V7350 cards include 10-bit support for forthcoming monitor technology that goes beyond the 16.7 million colors that we've become accustomed to—they have the ability to drive displays with billions of colors. The ATI FireGL V7350 carries an MSRP of $1,999 and the V7300, with 512MB of RAM, is available for $1,599. With good performance, two dual-link DVI-I connectors and forward-looking support for new monitor technologies, both graphics cards have much to offer. —RLF