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Workstations

There are a lot of players in the media workstation market vying for your business. By John Virata

The year 2005 has seen a new era in workstations specifically driven by the new dual core offerings from AMD and Intel Corp. The processors bring a new level of creativity to market while at the same time, ensuring that those who use workstations on a daily basis not only have a choice in CPUs, but can benefit from the power that dual core CPUs bring to the market.

Additionally, artists have been going to larger and larger displays, forgoing the 19-inch LCDs and 21 inch CRTs in favor of the larger 24-inch and larger LCDs that have hit the market in the past couple of years. Display offerings from such companies as Sony, Dell, HP, IBM, Apple Computer and others have given artists the larger real estate they need to manipulate bigger datasets that bring about more visual realism to projects. These displays are making available higher resolutions and contrast ratios to digital artists.

And finally, the graphics card vendors are introducing cards that are capable of not only manipulating 4k x 4k imagery, but driving high resolution displays as well, with some offering support for up to 3840 x 2400 resolution in single LCD configurations. These cards are designed to handle most if not all the graphics work, enabling the host CPU to reduce its load and concentrate on other functions such as OS and rendering tasks. As a workstation matures, the graphics card is often the first peripheral that is upgraded to bring about a new level of performance to older systems. These primarily 16x PCI Express-based solutions are essential bridges that enable artists to take full advantage of the 3D and effects software in their toolboxes.  


We'll take a look at the latest specs from 3dlabs, NVIDIA, and ATI. We'll also spec out some of the latest 24-inch LCD displays from the likes of Dell, HP, IBM, and ViewSonic, and finally we'll look at some of the latest workstation offerings from Alienware, IBM, BOXX Technologies, HP, and Dell.

NVIDIA

QuadroFX 3400

QuadroFX 4000

Quadro FX 4400

Quadro FX 4400G

Memory size

256MB GDDR

256MB DDR

512MB GDDR3

512MB GDDR3

Memory Interface

256-bit

256-bit

256-bit

256-bit

Memory Bandwidth

28.8GB/sec

32GB/sec

33.6GB/sec

33.6GB/sec

I/O Connectors

DVI-I/DVI-I +ST

DVI-I/DVI-I +ST

DVI-I/DVI-I +ST

DVI-I/DVI-I +ST

Dual Link DVI Support

1

2

2

2

Shader Model

3.0

3.0

3.0

3.0

SLI Support

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Genlock/Framelock

No

No

No

Yes

Triangles/sec (M)

117

133

135

135

Pixel/sec (B)

4.2

4.5

6.4

6.4

Max Resolution

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

Graphics Bus

PCI Express

AGP 8X

PCI Express

PCI Express

  3dlabs

     
 

Wildcat Realizm 100

Wildcat Realizm 200

Wildcat Realizm 800

STRONG> Onboard memory

256MB GDDR

512MB GDDR

640MB GDDR

Graphics Interface

AGP 8X

AGP 8X

PCI Express

Visual Processing Unit

Single

Single

Dual

Vertex Scalability Unit

N/A

N/A

Single

Board Size

Full Length/Full

Full Length/Full

Full Length/Full

OS Support

Windows 2000/XP Red Hat/Suse Linux

Windows 2000/XP Red Hat/Suse Linux

Windows 2000/XP Red Hat/Suse Linux

Professional Application Certification

Yes

Yes

Yes

Activity Windows Manager

Yes

Yes

Yes

Display Connectors

Two DVI-I analog/digital output ports-single link DVI

Two DVI-I analog/digital output ports-dual link DVI

Two DVI-I analog/digital output ports-dual link DVI

Analog

single or dual display devices

single or dual display devices

single or dual display devices

Stereo

Yes

Yes

Yes

Genlock Multiview Support

N/A

Optional

Optional

Max Resolution

2456 x 1536

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

ATI

         
 

FireGL V7100

FireGL V5100

FireGL V5000

FireGL V3200

FireGL V3100

Memory

256MB

128MB

128MB

128MB

128MB

Memory interface

256-bit

256-bit

128-bit

128-bit

128-bit

Bandwidth

28.8GB/Sec

22.4GB/sec

13.6GB/sec

12.8GB/sec

6.4GB/sec

Geometry Engines

6

6

6

2

2

Pixel Pipelines

16

12

8

4

4

Display Support

DVI-I/DVI-I 

DVI-I/DVI-I

DVI-I/DVI-I

DVI-I/DVI-I

DVI-I/VGA

Dual Link DVI capable

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

Stereo 3D Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Triangles/sec

750M

675M

637M

250M

200M

Pixels/sec

8.0G

5.4G

3.4G

2.0G

1.6G

Max Resolution (single display)

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

3840 x 2400

   3840 x 2400

 

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Related Keywords:Digital artists, DCC workstation, workstation, Sony, Dell, HP, IBM, Apple Computer , 3dlabs, NVIDIA, ATI, Alienware, IBM, BOXX Technologies

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