Graphics Boosters For OpenGL Workstations

Lab Notes: Drivers Still Have A Way To Go

In years past, OpenGL cards always proved stable at THG. This time, however, a lockup with the application benchmark 3D Studio Max caused us a few headaches. This was only the case with the Quadro FX 3000 and the FireGL T2, which displayed error messages at a certain point in the benchmark. Oddly enough, the error occurred at the same point for both NVIDIA and ATI. All of the other six candidates performed without glitches.

While both cards passed the graphics portion of the benchmark with flying colors, the CPU test generated the message "Insufficient Memory for Shadow Buffer for Light 'Spot SUN'". In order to rule out a hardware error by the E7505 platform, we rebuilt our test setup with an i875P board and installed Windows on a freshly formatted hard drive. And we were faced with the same problem. NVIDIA subsequently sent us a new interim driver that did provide some relief - provided, that is, you leave the AGP aperture size in the motherboard's BIOS at 256 MB. Other settings such as 128 MB didn't work.

NVIDIA is on the case here: We were told that minute changes were made to the driver that impact the memory allocation of the video and the system memories.

In the case of ATI, the problem was caused by the new platform. When we set the AGP aperture size to 128 MB on an i875P motherboard, the error went away, while it remained the E7505. This shows that the drivers from NVIDIA and ATI are still a bit shaky.

In no way should changing the AGP aperture size result in lockups; if anything, it should only have an impact on performance.

Uwe Scheffel