FirePro cards vs. Radeon HD cards for workstation?

Started Feb 14, 2011 | Discussions thread
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David Heinrich
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FirePro cards vs. Radeon HD cards for workstation?
Feb 14, 2011

I have a NEC 3090WQXi LCD, which "supports internal programmable 12-bit lookup tables (LUTs) for calibration". But I don't think that is the same thing as actually being a 12-bit display when it comes to the colors actually displayed. Unless I'm mistaken, that just means it more accurately chooses which colors to display on the 8-bit device.

I will be doing photo-editing work only, in programs like Photoshop, GIMP, and possibly Blender (via their nodal compositing system). I will also be using my system for some games. Will there be a benefit to purchasing one of ATI's professional-level cards, like the FirePro V4800 or V5800 vs. a similarly priced consumer-grade card. e.g., the Radeon HD 5770 and even 6850 are price-comparable to the FirePro V4800. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6950 and even 6970 are price-comparable to the FirePro V5800.

Are the workstation-cards really going to outperform the desktop cards for my intended use? (What about quality, will it really be noticeable?). I know that when comparing the workstation cards to their equivalent technology (e.g., architecture) card for workstation uses, they clearly beat their desktop equivalents; however, comparing that way, the FirePro V5800's comparable desktop card would be the HD 5770, a card that costs 1/3rd as much! So of course I'd expect it to be doubled or even tripled in performance vs. the V5800 (benchmarks I've seen show this).

For example, these benchmarks (run in Linux) compared the performance of the V5800 with the HD5770 using SPECViewPerf 10 at 1920x1080, across 5 different tests.
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=amd_v3800_v5800&num=1

In Catia-02, the V5800 outperformed the 5770 by 2.2-fold; in Maya-02, it outperformed by 3.1-fold; and in Tcvis-01, it outperformed by 4-fold. These numbers are about in line with its price being 3 times that of the 5770.

So it seems like you are getting what you're paying for...pretty much exactly what you're paying for on a linear scale in terms of performance. Would it be really surprising to see that a desktop-card like the Radeon HD 6970 that is price-comparable to the FirePro V5800 equal its performance in workstation uses? If so, the main issue would come down to quality and if there would be a noticeable different on your display (for me the NEC 3090WQxi) and prints.

Other background info for me: I'm upgrading from an Intel Q9550 with 8GB RAM to the an AMD Opteron 6128 with 32GB of RAM, so same clock speed but more cores and RAM. I work with images of 1 to 1.4GB in size and may be working with 4 GB images soon. (4x5 and 8x10 scans).

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