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SPECviewperf 12: A Much-Needed And Welcome Update

Workstation Graphics: 19 Cards Tested In SPECviewperf 12
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In the end, benchmarks like SPECviewperf 12 can only give us a snapshot of workstation-oriented graphics card performance, and they’ll never cover the entire range of applications, either. Still, this is a long-overdue update to a popular suite of tests. The inclusion of up-to-date professional software from a number of different fields makes it easier for us to estimate the performance of today's FirePro and Quadro boards.

Don't read these results as gospel, though. Eight titles with a handful of sub-tests aren't enough for judging a product fairly and completely, particularly when you're talking about the lower-end models that get brutalized by taxing geometry and the memory bandwidth demands applied by deliberately-complex workloads. In fact, for every market where workstation graphics are used, there are unique and specific needs that can't be accounted for in a general collection of tests.

SPECviewperf 12’s design is, and always has been, focused on the upper-middle and high-end segments. Think about that before writing off less expensive offerings as insufficient. Their target segments are barely, if at all, represented by this benchmark.

It'd be nice to shirk the eternal FirePro versus Quadro debate and simply let the benchmark results and screenshots speak for themselves. But really, both AMD and Nvidia have done their homework, and the products we tested don’t have any obvious flaws or weaknesses.

AMD, in particular, has noticeably improved its standing in the workstation graphics card market, increasing share with its FirePro boards. There are still a lot of professional applications lacking corresponding optimized drivers, particularly outside of the titles in SPECviewperf 12. But the list of those that are officially supported keeps growing.

Moreover, AMD's price/performance ratio in the low- and mid-range segments is already appealing, and we're not seeing a push to offer more value in the high-end space. That's where the company might be able to steal away some of Nvidia's business, especially under the titles really well-optimized in the drivers. Although this is bad news for Nvidia, the winner of a close race is always going to be you.

Bottom Line

SPECviewperf 12 might not be perfect, but perfection is almost impossible to achieve when it comes to evaluating workstation-class graphics cards. There are simply too many commonly-used professional apps out there that need to be included, and the benchmark's scope has to be limited by scope.

But the plan to update viewperf regularly, and thus keep it adjusted continuously to the newest demands and requirements, is more than welcome. It's also necessary for a suite that’s supposed to provide relevant results.

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