Since the introduction of AMD's new Linux OpenGL driver and their open-source strategy running in parallel, the past few months have been especially exciting for ATI Linux users and the Linux graphics scene in general. To many Linux users, ATI graphics have went from being a name synonymous with problems and poor 3D performance to being an open-source crown jewel that has set a precedence in the industry by releasing their GPU register documentation, but at the same time continuing to develop their high-performance proprietary driver for users interested in the best performance and enabling all of the bells and whistles on their graphics card.
We've published a great deal of benchmarks looking at the Linux "fglrx" driver (now more commonly referred to as the Linux Catalyst driver) since these major changes were pushed into the limelight this past fall. In fact, since this past September we've published more than 80 display driver articles with many of them being AMD related, and that's in addition to nearly a dozen graphics card reviews. On the AMD side, all of our testing has been done with the consumer-grade Radeon GPUs and IGPs, but that has changed today. In this article, we are providing our first look at the AMD FireGL V8600 1GB under Linux. We'll share our thoughts on this high-end workstation graphics card and specifically looking at how the Windows and Linux performance compares.
The ATI V8600 is currently AMD's second fastest FireGL graphics card, being put behind the V8650 but ahead of the V3600, V5600, V7600, and V7700 with their current (2007) generation of workstation products. The FireGL V8600 is nearly identical to the ultra high-end V8650, but its video memory has been sliced in half and therefore AMD sells it for $730 USD less. Both of these cards offer a 688MHz GPU clock and 868MHz for the video memory. The FireGL V8600 offers 320 shader processing units, 1GB of GDDR4 memory with its bandwidth topping out at 111GB/s, 512-bit memory ring bus, two dual-link DVI outputs, HD component video output, stereo 3D output, and is OpenGL 2.1 compliant. The FireGL V8600 is PCI Express x16 based. This high-end graphics card does offer two dual-link DVI outputs, but there are no DisplayPort connections. The FireGL V7700 does offer a DisplayPort output, but with the forthcoming FireGL 2008 refresh, we would suspect more of these cards support this latest VESA standard.
AMD sells the ATI FireGL V8600 as both retail and OEM, with the unit we are reviewing today being from an OEM batch. The retail model just arrives in a cardboard container with two DVI to VGA adapters, one HDTV adapter, two 4-pin molex to 6-pin PCI Express power adapters, and then the driver disk. Both SKUs cost roughly the same at about $1,600 USD. AMD stands behind the FireGL products with a three-year limited warranty.