How The Radeon Professional Graphics Performance Changed Over 13 Years

Written by Michael Larabel in Graphics Cards on 7 August 2023 at 02:00 PM EDT. Page 1 of 4. 17 Comments.

AMD last week launched the Radeon PRO W7500 and Radeon PRO W7600 professional graphics cards built on RDNA3. Due to AMD's unique position with their open-source Linux graphics driver stack, I decided to see how these new Radeon professional GPUs compare to FirePro hardware from 13 years ago for the raw performance and power efficiency.

Radeon FirePro and Radeon PRO graphics cards

Last week I provided a look at the Linux open-source performance with the Radeon PRO W7500/W7600 which played great out-of-the-box at launch with the open-source graphics driver components in the Linux kernel and Mesa.

2010~2011 FirePro graphics cards

A unique proposition for AMD with their graphics driver stack is that same mainline driver stack even works if popping in ~13 year old Radeon graphics hardware too... After testing the Radeon PRO W7500/W7600, I was able to toss in these old FirePro graphics cards and everything "just worked" on the same Linux 6.5 kernel and Mesa 23.3 software. The upstream components continue to ship and maintain the Radeon DRM driver and R600 Gallium3D driver that enables these old FirePro professional graphics products.

Radeon FirePro with modern Linux driver

AMD doesn't tend to do much in the way of optimizing or feature work for these very old GPUs, but with the open-source community there continues to be work on R600g such as around NIR support and other occasional features or optimizations. Simply having the support still work out-of-the-box is great for those wanting to use these GPUs while enjoying newer Linux kernel features, security fixes, etc, without having to resort to any long-term support kernel.

Radeon FirePro and Radeon PRO hardware

Meanwhile for old NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards of similar time, there is just the NVIDIA legacy proprietary driver branch that is effectively unmaintained. That proprietary driver support limits you to running on older versions of the Linux kernel, X.Org Server, etc, for compatibility. Similarly, making use of the Radeon Software Windows driver is also in a legacy form for these old FirePro graphics cards. AMD didn't even release a Windows 11 driver for these old FirePro graphics cards tested while the last Windows 10 release for the AMD FirePro Software Suite was in February 2017...

Radeon FirePro with modern open-source Linux driver

So 5 years after the last FirePro Windows driver update for the cards tested, it was fascinating to put in these old graphics cards on a modern and up-to-date Linux OS and have the support still work out-of-the-box with working kernel mode-setting, OpenGL, and other functionality.

AMD Radeon FirePro and Radeon PRO

The graphics cards for this long-term comparison included the FirePro V5800 / V7800 / V7900 / V8800 and then the modern Radeon PRO W7500 and W7600 graphics cards... Unfortunately nothing in-between or other RDNA3 PRO products simply due to testing the graphics cards I had available. For reasons unknown I wasn't seeded with any of the Radeon professional graphics products between then and now, but in any event I figured it would be interesting to dust off those old graphics cards and see how their running against these RDNA3 GPUs while enjoying the same open-source software stack based on the PRO GPUs I have available.

FirePro V5800: Released in 2010, the FirePro V5800 features a "Juniper" GPU with 1GB of GDDDR5 video memory on a 128-bit interface and 800 stream processors This 40nm GPU was considered high-end for its time.

FirePro V7800: The FirePro V7800 also launched in 2010 with its Cypress GPU and featured 2GB of GDDR5 video memory on a 256-bit interface and 1440 stream processors.

FirePro V7900: The FirePro V7900 launched in 2011 with its Cayman PRO GPU that provided 1280 stream processors and 2GB of GDDR5 video memory with a 256-bit interface. This card is rated for a 150 Watt TDP.

FirePro V8800: The FirePro V8800 with its Cypress XT GPU launched in 2010 with 1600 stream processors and a 2GB of GDDR5 video memory on a 256-bit interface. This card launched at $1500 USD and has a 208 Watt TDP.

adeon PRO W7500: The Radeon PRO W7500 launched last week as the lowest-end RDNA3 professional graphics product currently. The W7500 provides 1700 stream processors, 28 ray accelerators, and 8GB of GDDR6 video memory on a 128-bit interface. The PRO W7500 has a 70 Watt total board power rating and a suggested retail price of $429.

Radeon PRO W7600: The Radeon PRO W7600 is the other RDNA3 professional graphics product that launched last week with 2440 stream processors, 32 ray accelerators, and 8GB of GDDR6 video memory on a 128-bit interface. The Radeon PRO W7600 has a total board power rating of 130 Watts. The suggested retail price of this card is $599 USD.

Of course, due to limitations of those old GPUs, the benchmarking was focused on the OpenGL performance, which for the professional/workstation graphics side still persists. With the old FirePro graphics cards is working OpenGL 4.5 with Mesa 23.3 + Linux 6.4. In addition to looking at the raw workstation OpenGL performance, the total system power consumption was monitored as well as the GPU core temperatures. The total AC system power consumption "wall power" was monitored since on these old graphics cards there isn't any energy sensor exposed like there is with modern AMD GPUs fur just polling the graphics card power draw.

Testing was with the Intel Core i9 13900K with ASUS PRIME Z790-P WiFi motherboard, 32GB of DDR5-6000 memory, 1TB WD_BLACK SN850X SSD, and running Ubuntu 22.04.2 LTS with Linux 6.4.6 and Mesa 23.3-devel via the Oibaf PPA.

So let's move on to looking at the results for this fun comparison of how the Radeon professional graphics performance has changed since 2010.

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