OpenGL Workstation Power - Graphics Cards for the Professional User

ATI Fire GL4 - The Details, Continued

Attentive readers might remember that we performed a test 5 months ago on the Fire GL2. You may ask, what happened to the Fire GL3? This product is still on offer, although the Fire GL3, despite being relatively new to the market, is already approaching the end of its life cycle. To be complete, we've included the GL3 card in the features chart at the end of this article.

What's the difference between the 3-series and the 4-series? Like the GL4, the Fire GL3 has 128 megaBytes of video memory, but in response to requirements set by OEM customers, ATI has chosen not to cool the board actively with a fan. Instead, the GL3 does the job using passive heat sinks. However, this doesn't allow clock speeds to be raised for the geometry chip, the rasterizer and the memory clock. This keeps the GL3's specs at the same level as the Fire GL2's - 27MPoly/s, 410MPix/s and 200Mtexel/s. By cooling actively on the Fire GL4, ATI has been able to increase clock speeds, pushing up the polygon rate to 29MPoly/s, pixel rate to 512MPix/s and texel rate to 250Mtexel/s. For the graphics chips behind these numbers, they've stuck with the old ones, the GT1000 geometry engine and the RC1000 rasterizer (both from IBM, see picture above).

Uwe Scheffel