It's A New Game Of Cards
Many of those who want to buy an OpenGL workstation nowadays are confused. ELSA has declared itself insolvent. The FireGL division in Starnberg/Germany has trekked through a long odyssey, from Diamond Multimedia via S3/VIA/SONICblue, and now it belongs to ATI Technologies. The third serious contender, 3Dlabs, was taken over on March 11 by the multimedia giant Creative. So what are the implications for the customer?
Even with all the confusion, the OpenGL teams at ELSA and ATI seem to have weathered the worst of the storm. NVIDIA wants to keep the ELSA brand at least, along with its established clientele. Not much has changed for the FireGL developers in Starnberg. Their new parent company does not interfere with their traditional areas of expertise. ATI supplies the chip, while the drivers are optimized, and later certified, for use with major customer applications such as 3D Studio Max, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Pro/Engineer and the like.
The future of 3Dlabs, however, is written in the stars. Creative, which turned its back on the graphics business not long ago, not only wants to supply the desktop and mainstream markets with NVIDIA graphics cards, but also wants to cover the OpenGL workstation segment with Wildcat cards from the 3Dlabs division. It remains to be seen just how successful this new strategy will be.
In this preview we test two products in the medium price range, the ATI FireGL 8800 and the ELSA GLoria4 750XGL. Both of these OpenGL graphics cards retail for roughly $1000. ATI and ELSA will present the finalized versions of their boards at CeBIT 2002. However, even though the hardware is ready, the drivers will still need some time to mature.
During the tests at least, the cards performed stably, although, when used with typical applications, it was by no means optimal. Therefore, we primarily present you with the features here, while the benchmark results are provided merely to give you some rough guidelines. We will not be able to make a final judgment until some time in the future.
The following table shows the technical specs, features and prices.
|Graphics card||ATI FireGL 8800||Elsa Gladiac Gloria4 750XGL|
|3D chip||ATI Radeon 8800 (R200W)||NVIDIA Quadro4 750XGL (NV25)|
|Transitors||60 Mill.||63 Mill.|
|Process Technology||0.15 Micron||0.15 Micron|
|Memory clock||290MHz (x2) DDR||275MHz (x2) DDR|
|Memory bandwidth||9.300 MB/s||8.800 MB/s|
|Max. Fillrate||1,000 MPix/s||1,100 MPix/s|
|Max. Triangle Rate||75 MTriangles/s||54 MTriangles/s|
|Dual Monitor Support||yes, VGA DSub15 + DVI-I||yes, VGA DSub15 + DVI-I|
|Multiple Desktops||yes, HYDRAVISION||yes, nView|