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AMD FirePro W8000 And W9000 Review: GCN Goes Pro

AMD's New FirePro Workstation Graphics Cards

GPUs based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture have been around in the consumer space since the end of last year. Despite clear advantages in compute performance compared to Nvidia's desktop-oriented Kepler-based cards, AMD took its time transitioning its most modern architecture to the workstation space, though. Professional graphics products require heavily-validated drivers and more robust hardware than their consumer counterparts. Consequently, they’re usually late to the party, though understandably so.

AMD's current GCN-powered workstation line-up looks like this: the W9000 is its ultra high-end offering, the W8000 is considered high-end, the W7000 is a lesser high-end card, and the W5000 brings up the rear as a mid-range board. Everything else in the FirePro family is driven by previous-generation architectures. Naturally, then, as AMD phases out its older products, there's plenty of room here for additional GCN-based cards.

Today we have the two highest-end models in our lab, the FirePro W9000 and W8000, plus a number of existing FirePro cards and several Quadro boards from Nvidia (mainly, the 6000, 5000, 4000, and 2000).

In addition to our usual workstation benchmarks and compute-oriented tests, we also listened to reader feedback asking for us to run parts of our VGA Charts 2012 suite. It's not that we recommend using these workstation-optimized boards for gaming, but this should at least make for interesting reading.

We used our newly-constructed dual Opteron 4284 system sitting on a bright red Lian Li test bench for all our benchmarks. Read on to see how GCN, known for its compelling compute performance, performs against Nvidia's highest-end Quadro cards!

  • mayankleoboy1
    Typical of AMD : releasing cards without proper drivers.
    I bet most professionals wont touch these cards until atleast 3-4 driver revisions. These cards are newer, and perform worse than competitions older.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    1.How does the CPU performance affect the benchmarks ? IOW, are these softwares enough offloaded on to the GPU, that changing the CPU to a much better Intel Xeons wont affect the performance much ?

    2. Also, how do the consumer cards perform on these pro softwares ?
    Reply
  • rdc85
    They are new architecture, it's kinda expected result. I can see there a room for improvement, but without the application that can take advantage of it, then it will useless..

    in the end I'm glad to see that AMD graphic section is trying to make an effort, not like the their proc section..
    Reply
  • My impression is that on average, Nvidia higher quality. IMHO of course
    Reply
  • bystander
    mayankleoboy1Typical of AMD : releasing cards without proper drivers.I bet most professionals wont touch these cards until atleast 3-4 driver revisions. These cards are newer, and perform worse than competitions older.Did you not read all the benchmarks? In many of the benchmarks it beat out Nvidia's offering by a lot, some were even, some were worse. And they are cheaper than the those Nvidia cards it would seem by the price offering of 4.2k for the Quadro 6000 right on the last page, compared to 4k for the W9000 and 1.6k for the W8000.

    So depending on what you use it for, it may very well be a great choice.
    Reply
  • Please note that dozens of software companies (all the most prevalent in DCC and CAD) have thoroughly tested and certified the drivers for the W8000 and W9000 cards. This means that users of these applications should not be concerned about driver stability or user experience.

    Yes, this is a brand new architecture and yes, performance improvements will continue to be made with subsequent driver optimizations.
    Reply
  • ohim
    Even though no one will prolly ever play games on a workstation, this are the first cards to have equal or superior gaming performance over the consumer cards also. Wonder if taking a HD 7970 and possibly mooding the bios for a FirePro one how will it impact the workstation benchmarks.
    Reply
  • rmpumper
    The review needs at least one gaming GPU as comparison.
    Reply
  • I always wondered how well these cards would do with games, anyone an idea? :)
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    ohimEven though no one will prolly ever play games on a workstation, this are the first cards to have equal or superior gaming performance over the consumer cards also. Wonder if taking a HD 7970 and possibly mooding the bios for a FirePro one how will it impact the workstation benchmarks.
    AFAIK, its not possible now to BIOS mod a regular 7970 into a W9000. AMD and Nvidia have become smarter.
    Reply