NVIDIA, ATi Bring Five OpenGL Workstation Graphics for PCI Express to Market

NVIDIA/PNY Quadro FX 3400

FX3400: On the top left edge there is the SLI connection , and under the solid heat sink are the graphics chip, the HSI bridge chip and the memory modules.

In eager anticipation we awaited the arrival of the first OpenGL card, which is based on the NV4x generation from NVIDIA. In the mainstream segment this chip is fitted to the GeForce 6800 Ultra. The manufacturer calls its chip NV45GL, in order to denote its compatibility with PCI Express. The number of transistors alone gives you some idea of its processing power: 222-million is not exactly chickenfeed.

And NVIDIA has no intention of coming in second in terms of memory. The finest G-DDR3 modules provide a theoretical bandwidth of 28.8 GB/s. With a recommended price of $1799/€1439, 256 MB are of course standard.

Now, users with high-performance requirements can also use the SLI process in OpenGL applications. That means two cards of the same type processing in parallel.

What catches the eye is the second heat sink for the voltage regulator, located very close to the extra power supply socket. The FX 3400 is certainly no frugal consumer. With 131 watts peak demand, even the power envelope of PCI Express, extended as it is in comparison to AGP, is no longer enough. Rated at 78 watts, the ATI FireGL V7100 is a comparative miser.

The Vertex and Pixel Shader of the Quadro FX 3400 are version 3.0 compatible. The essential additions in comparison with version 2.0 are as follows:

Vertex Shader

  • Displacement mapping;
  • Vertex Texture Fetch;
  • Vertex Stream Divider;
  • Dynamic Flow Control.

Pixel Shader

  • Subroutines
  • Loops & branches
  • Dynamic Flow Control

Frame Buffer

  • IEEE for 32-bit
Uwe Scheffel