If we would have looked at the FireGL performance under Windows and Linux a year ago, the results would have been vastly different -- Linux would have lagged far behind the Windows driver. With the new OpenGL driver, however, these results are rather pleasing. In 3DS Max and UGS NX tests from SPECViewPerf, the Windows driver had a small performance lead over the Linux driver. However, in the CATIA, Maya, and Pro/Engineer tests, the Linux driver wound up on top. Furthermore, in EnSight and SolidWorks the Linux driver had worked well while the Windows driver had failed to complete both tests. Just like on the NVIDIA Quadro side, thanks to work by the engineers at the respective companies, Linux is the faster alternative to Windows in workstation OpenGL rendering. It's phenomenal to see the Linux changes made with AMD, from them taking six months or more to support their product families in the past and that yielding less than desirable results to now a point of reaching Linux performance supremacy and nearly all of the same features available to Windows users.
The Radeon HD 3870 results in this article go to show that the FireGL series are far more optimized for workstation environments than the Radeon products and it's far more than a simple name change and price hike. With SPECViewPerf 9, the consumer-grade Radeon HD 3870 was more than two times slower than the FireGL V8600 on the same system.
While we are just beginning our workstation graphics coverage on Phoronix, and thus unfortunately were unable to deliver results from the FireGL V8650 or NVIDIA's workstation competition (primarily the Quadro FX 3700 and 4600), our site partners have shown that under Windows the FireGL V8600 proves to be an excellent performer. The FireGL V8600 is near identical to the FireGL V8650 but with half the memory capacity, though this places the V8600 at $730 USD cheaper, or about $1,600 USD. Aside from the PowerPlay issue, the FireGL V8600 1GB had worked great under Linux and we had experienced no other issues. As you can see from the results -- paired with a multi-core system -- the FireGL V8600 is very strong with its OpenGL workstation performance.
From the Linux performance to overall features and build quality, the FireGL V8600 is one impressive beast. If you are in the market, however, for the FireGL V8600 be sure that your case and power supply can handle this workstation graphics card. When the FireGL 2008 refresh is announced, we'll be sure to let you know how the Linux workstation story pans out at that time.
Additional reviews on the FireGL V8600 can be read at TestFreaks.com.