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View Full Version : Quadro, FireGL, or Wildcat cards for G5/OSX?


mistrrhappy
05-24-2005, 03:22 AM
Would 3D App users on Apple platforms benefit from products/display adapters aimed at the professional marketplace? With Maya Unlimited, Cinema 4D, Lightwave, Modo, Electric Image, etc. available on the platform, do the current crop of seemingly game-oriented cards pass muster for pro-level use? The latest (June '05) issue of CPU focuses on workstations and their application, and contains a short, interesting sidebar regarding "the apple factor" It states: "One point in Apple's favor is that because it has the rights to create its own drivers for the ATI and NVIDIA cards offered with the system, Apple can and did unify OpenGL driver architecture for both GPU platforms." "Moreover, because the desktop and workstation chips from both companies are more or less identical, Apple can buy Radeon and GeForce cards, and effectively turn them into FireGL and Quadro products." "Slick."
If any Apple personel read this posting, can they please elaborate on this? Are 3D enthusiasts on the Mac really getting "dual-pupose" or "2 for the price of 1" display adapters? Any member comments are appreciated...

imashination
05-24-2005, 10:24 AM
Would 3D App users on Apple platforms benefit from products/display adapters aimed at the professional marketplace? With Maya Unlimited, Cinema 4D, Lightwave, Modo, Electric Image, etc. available on the platform, do the current crop of seemingly game-oriented cards pass muster for pro-level use? The latest (June '05) issue of CPU focuses on workstations and their application, and contains a short, interesting sidebar regarding "the apple factor" It states: "One point in Apple's favor is that because it has the rights to create its own drivers for the ATI and NVIDIA cards offered with the system, Apple can and did unify OpenGL driver architecture for both GPU platforms." "Moreover, because the desktop and workstation chips from both companies are more or less identical, Apple can buy Radeon and GeForce cards, and effectively turn them into FireGL and Quadro products." "Slick."
If any Apple personel read this posting, can they please elaborate on this? Are 3D enthusiasts on the Mac really getting "dual-pupose" or "2 for the price of 1" display adapters? Any member comments are appreciated...

First of all, as the article states, the geforce and quadro cards physically are identical; so asking for a quadro/firegl card is completely pointless as all they would have to do is change the little sticker they put on it. The difference between the geforce and quadro cards is the drivers which officially run on them.

So, if apple were to offer 'workstation' cards, what would they actually be selling you? Would you be happy to pay quadruple the price for the same item but with different drivers? and what would these drivers offer you which the current ones don't?

mistrrhappy
05-24-2005, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the reply Matthew. I must wonder then, why would individuals and resellers pay the premiums they do for workstation-class adapters? If the boards are identical, then why is a top tier GeForce 400.00 USD, while Quadro FX 4000/4400 is 2000.00+ USD? Marketing savvy? Can the Quadro drivers be installed for a GeForce board, yielding "workstation" performance? Is the gist of the article that OpenGL performance is bolstered beyond GeForce or Radeon specs as much as possible with as little sacrifice to gaming performance as can be afforded? Just curious- I have friends who use G5s for Maya and Lightwave work, and we were discussing this prior to the publication of the article.

stephen2002
05-24-2005, 12:28 PM
When you buy a Quadro you are buying drivers, application certification, and the resulting tech support for your application. If you were to get on the phone with Maya tech support, and tell them such and such is not working right, they are going to ask you what kind of graphics card you have. If you don't have one on the certified list, they are not going to help you.
Apple basically writes their own video card drivers, or at least takes apart what has been given to them to suit their needs. The video engine on the Apple vs the one on the PC are different beasts. Becasue OSX uses the OpenGL for drawing some of it's interface, Apple stacks one more layer of abstraction between the hardware and the piece of software, where in Windows the piece of software talks to the drivers more or less directly through the API of choice. The advantage of the Apple way is that you can do some cool things with the interface, becasuse each application thinks it has control over everything, when it really does not. The advantage of the Windows way is you get better preformance.

In short, there would be no point to buying a Quadro on the Apple, because you don't get the drivers. Now there are supposedly physical differences in the transistor count, but they often use the chips interchangeably, which is why it is easy to softmod (or do a BIOS flash) certain batches of the gaming cards into a Quadro without a hitch.

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