Professional Affair: OpenGL Graphics Cards Compete

Evans & Sutherland Lightning 1200

At 399 Dollars the Lightning 1200 from Evans & Sutherland is the cheapest card in this comparison. E & S(s agency was a little hesitant when we approached them. We were told that the Lightning 1200 is not the right choice for our demands - as the price already indicates. The Tornado 3000 would be much more suitable for our test, but the price is 300 Dollars above our specified maximum of 1000 Dollars.

This model really is a little old. The Lightning 1200 still has an external Ramdac chip; on all other cards the Ramdac is integrated in the rasterizer chip. It also only achieves a maximum frequency of 175 MHz. For a comparison: The Quadro chip on the Gloria II delivers a maximum Ramdac frequency of 350 MHz. Consequently the resolutions are somewhat meager: 1280 x 1024 at 85 Hz - that is it. Let's look at the basic data of this card. The fill rates a far below the average. The maximum texture rate is 70 MPixel/s. Therefore we do not expect too much from this card. To be fair we should therefore test the 1300-Dollar Tornado 3000 at a later point in time. However, it was quite obvious from the beginning that the Lightning 1200 would not do too well. But for CAD users, who only work with simple models, this graphics card is an affordable alternative. On this card E & S uses 15 MByte 3DRAM for the frame & local buffer, 16 MByte CDRAM for textures.

In the bottom half of the picture you clearly see the external Ramdac from TI. The other test candidates offer a Ramdac integrated in the rasterizer. Above are the rasterizer and the programmable geometry unit REALimage 1200.

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