Workstation graphics isn't particularly a high-volume market, at least not if we compare this segment to the desktop and notebook market, but it is an extremely lucrative and actually rapidly growing business. Shipments climbed from 686,700 units in Q4 2006 to 847,900 in the fourth quarter of last year, translating into an annual growth rate of 23.5%, ahead of the general PC market which came in at about 14.1%, according to iSuppli.
ATI and Nvidia have been fighting over the workstation market, which allows them to sell their (2D tuned) graphics cards for prices of well over $2000 on the high end, for some time now. ATI and now AMD, however, never really gained traction in this market, with Nvidia dominating the segment with a market share of about 86%.
AMD now tries to open up the workstation graphics market to the lower end, offering a new card for $250. The "ATI FireMV 2260 2D workstation and desktop accelerator card" is specifically aimed at financial institutions, where the card can "increase trader density" thanks to its "exceptional energy efficiency" which reduces cooling requirements: The card actually comes without a cooling fan and simply incorporates a passive heat sink.
AMD said that the low-profile card will fit into in practically any PCI, PCI Express 1.0 and PCI Express 16x slot and is the first card of its kind to offer two DisplayPorts. According to the company, the 2260 is capable enough to enable traders to receive 2D and 3D live video feeds and run Windows Vista and its Aero graphical user interface.
The card is expected to begin shipping in April.