We take a dekko at Nvidia's Fermi Quadro 4000 -

July 27th 2010 saw the launch of Nvidia's secret weapon, the Quadro Fermi® 4000, 5000 and 6000 cards.

We bagged the exclusive on both 5000 and 6000 cards and these pretty much blew us away. The Nvidia Quadro® 6000 was the derby winner and caught us on the hop as the results dazzled.

The last and most interesting of the trio is the Nvidia Quadro® 4000 – and it has just arrived.

Today we have a look into at the final edition of the Quadro Fermi cards aimed squarely at the workstation market. This neat single slot card is one of the mainstay bread and butter professional graphics cards from Nvidia. The Nvidia Quadro® 4000 gives end-users certified application support for the industry’s top CAD/CAM, 3D Design, and Digital Content Creation software applications.

The entry level position of the high-end graphics has always been a bitterly fought out arena and currently the Quadro FX3800 has maintained its ground as a high volume turn-over card for Nvidia in both retail and within the OEMs. It's a versatile, single slot card which can be found in many different types of systems around the globe in many walks of industry – users like the power and memory density hidden under its hood. Enter now the Nvidia Quadro® 4000 the proud successor, and our exclusive look into the card and it's performance.

Scorching straight out the starters gate, the NVIDIA Quadro® 4000 sports 2GB of GDDR5 memory and 256 CUDA Cores and might we add at a very affordable price.

One of the main question always asked when a new card is launched how much bigger is it and how mush faster can it go, so taking both cards specifications we lined them up side by side. You can instantly see what the actual raw differences are between both cards. In some places very significant, others remain the same:

GPU Specs:

NVIDIA Quadro GPU

Quadro 4000

Quadro FX3800

CUDA Cores

256

192

Form Factor

Single Slot

Single Slot

GPU Memory Specs:

Total Frame Buffer

2 GB GDDR5

1  GB GDDR3

Memory Interface

256-bit 

256-bit 

Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)

89.6 GB/s 

51.2 GB/s

Display Support:

Dual Link DVI-I

1

1

DisplayPort

2

2

# of Digital Outputs

2

3 (2 out of 3 active at a time)

# of Analog Outputs

1

1

Stereo (3-pin Mini-DIN)

1 (Optional)

An optional 3-pin Mini-DIN bracket is available from NVIDIA Quadro resellers)

Maximum Display Resolution Digital @ 60Hz

2560x1600

2560x1600

Active Display Channels

2

 

3D Vision/3D Vision Pro

 

 

Feature Support:

Shader Model

5.0 

4.0

OpenGL

4.0

3.1

Microsoft DirectX

11

10

SLI Multi-OS Technology

 

 

NVIDIA CUDA Architecture

 

 

SDI Option

 

 

NVIEW Display Management Software

 

 

FSAA (maximum)

64x

32x

Thermal and Power Specs:

EnergyStar Enabling

Yes (with 2:1 or better max/idle power ratio)

Yes

Maximum Power Consumption

142 W

108 W

 

This is a heavy weight piece of muscle at the entry position of the high-end professional graphics with a superb pedigree. This pedigree high-end, single slot card brings the power of high performance professional graphics to the next level in professional desktop graphics as a stand alone card never seen at these levels. We have covered all the features and benefits of the new Quadro range before but to recap briefly:

NVIDIA® Scalable Geometry Engine™. Dramatically improves geometry performance across a broad range of CAD, DCC and medical applications, enabling you to work interactively with models and scenes that are an order of magnitude more complex than ever before.

GPU Tessellation with Shader Model 5.0 Quadro Tessellation Engines automatically generate finely detailed geometry, for cinematic quality environments and scenes, without sacrificing performance.

NVIDIA GigaThread™ Engine. Provides up to 10x faster context switching compared to previous generation architectures, concurrent kernel execution, and improved thread block scheduling.

Dual Copy Engines. Enables the highest rates of parallel data processing and concurrent throughput between the GPU and host, accelerating techniques such as ray tracing, colour grading and physical simulation.

NVIDIA® Parallel DataCache™. Supports a true cache hierarchy combined with on-chip shared memory. L1 and L2 caches drive exceptional throughput, accelerating features such as real-time ray tracing, physics and texture filtering.

NVIDIA® SLI® Multi-OS. NVIDIA SLI Multi OS allows a user to run multiple Windows or Linux workstation applications from a single system, with each Operating System directly assigned to a Quadro graphics solution. Only available on SLI Multi-OS certified platforms.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS


Supported Platforms
• Support for two operating systems, from a Quadro SLI Multi-OS certified workstation, with each operating system
assigned to a dedicated Quadro GPU
• Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit and 32-bit)
• Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit and 32-bit)
• Microsoft Windows XP (64-bit and 32-bit)
• Linux® - Full OpenGL implementation, complete with NVIDIA and ARB extensions (64-bit and 32-bit)
• Solaris®

System Set-Up and Software Used

Our in house testing kit has had supplied parts courteously sent along by Intel, Supermicro, Crucial Memory, NVIDIA and Akasa. They could be found in most high-end studios and enthusiast workstation scenarios. These are very reliable and sound workstation platforms which have an abundance of scope for upgrading.


For this outing we sat back and looked carefully at the target market place and as the single socket Intel Xeon is now becoming the vogue choice of platform for many studios we decided to run with Supermicro's X8SAX Rev 2 mainboard that support Intel's X5677 (3.46GHz) Xeon CPU.

Component

Test  System

Mainboard

Supermicro X8SAX Workstation Board Rev 2

CPU

1 X 3.46GHz Intel® Xeon® X5677 Nehalem EP®, 12MB Shared Cache, 6.4GB/s QPI

HSF Coolers

Intel's Socket 1366 Stock Cooler

Memory

3 X 2GB Crucial DDR3 (6GB Total) 1333MHz
Unbuffered Non ECC DIMMS  Memory Modules

Hard Drive

256GB Crucial C300 RealSSD

PCI Ex Video Card

NVIDIA® Quadro® 4000




Benchmarks and Software Used 64-bit Mode

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Bentley Graphics MicroStation Benchmark
Cinebench 11.5
Redway Turbine Benchmark
SPECapc for SolidWorks 2007™
SPECviewperf® 11.0 64-bit.

 

Each set of tests has been applied on the clean system hard drives shown above to ensure that no residue drivers were left installed with all updates/patches applied. A test/render has been completed many times over different periods of the system uptime. Whilst maintaining the fair play rules of SPEC®  HyperThreading and Turbo Boost have been enabled, with the memory being left in its default status of Auto. Tests have been conducted in accordance with the resolutions detailed above @ 59Hz / 60Hz in 32 bit colour. Results that have been shown within this article are from the application/benchmarks first run in accordance with the SPECviewperf® and SPECapc™ fair play rules.

Conclusions

This is a nifty piece of equipment which will catch the market unaware on the performance and power that the Nvidia Quadro® 4000 has to offer. The predecessor the Nvidia Quadro® FX3800 was one wicked piece of equipment and won hands down in this sector of professional graphics cards. Offering good value in price and performance, now the Nvidia Quadro® 4000 has swiftly slotted into place taking over the realm. We foresee many using this new card as an immediate upgrade or purchase choice. Once more the clever marketing people at Nvidia have pitched the price point very well.

The scores returned within all the professional benchmarks are bang on target at what they should be. We see good scores in the SPEC APC and the Viewperf 11 backs this all up. Any sort of anomaly would be spotted by these tests straight away. It shows that the driver team within Nvidia have most certainly done their job well. The new SPECviewperf 11 is one harsh test that really sorts out the thoroughbreds from the cobs.

Support from the ISV's on this new product range has been exceptional and many have adopted the CUDA code within their own software to further enhance their final product. Uptake from the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers has been very quick with new Sku's readily available supporting the new card.

What must not be forgotten is the overall additional benefits the Quadro® 4000 has in other areas. Support for Nvidia's SDI Capture card which enables multi-stream, uncompressed video to be streamed directly to Quadro SDI-enabled GPU memory. Finally support for Quadro SDI Output card provides integrated graphics-to-video enabling 2D and 3D effects to be composited in real-time with 2K, HD, and SD video (3D not currently supported). More information can be found here on Nvidia's SDI product range.

The system shown here that all the tests have been completed on is fast becoming a vogue unit as many of the Tier 1s are shipping these systems in substantial volumes. Intel has done a superb job on this particular CPU and the raw power from it is something to behold.

Shipping. The Nvidia Quadro® 4000 is now shipping in quantity from all good resellers, VAR's and System Integrators are building to request. Get the orders in fast as the expectations are that this is going to be a hot selling card.

Cost. Currently MRSP is around $1200 USD, £777, €950. A very nice price point considering what the card and its drivers have to offer.

Notwithstanding, we see a professional graphics card that has doubled in faster GDDR5 memory, the memory bandwidth has shot up by some additional 35 percent and last but not least we see an additional 58 CUDA processing cores.

With these significant changes it must be remembered that the overall compute power of the Quadro® 4000 is one almighty noteworthy increase for an entry level High-End performance professional graphics card.

Ultimately, and to summarise, the range of cards from Nvidia have all been an excellent success. Drivers are maturing quickly and the improvement results are being seen across the board. The grand successor, the Nvidia Quadro® 4000 is here to stay - bringing with it exceptional technology advancements.

TechEye verdict: 9 out of 10