While not as sexy as the graphics arms race in the PC gaming realm, the battle for the workstation GPU crown is every bit as important to AMD and Nvidia as the professional market for high-powered graphics cards continues to grow. AMD just threw down the gauntlet earlier this week with its new FirePro S9050, S9150 server GPUs, so naturally its rival would respond with an announcement of its own.
During the annual SIGGRAPH graphics conference this week, Nvidia rolled out its latest Quadro professional GPUs, which the company says will offer twice the performance of their predecessors while improving the ability to harness their power remotely.
Nvidia has launched five new Quadro cards, ranging from the entry-level K420 to the high-performance K5200 (pictured above). At the lower end, the K420 includes 1GB of DDR3 video RAM and 192 CUDA cores, while the K620 doubles both the memory and the number of cores. The K2200 upgrades to 4GB of GDDR5 RAM and 640 processing cores. The K4200 and K5200 step up to 256-bit memory interfaces, with the K5200 featuring 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The K4200 comes with 1,344 CUDA cores, and the K5200 includes 2,304 cores. (The K6000 remains the top Quadro GPU with 12GB of GDDR5 RAM, 384-bit interface, and 2,880 CUDA cores.)
All of the new Quadro GPUs can handle up to four displays simultaneously, though only the K4200 and K5200 support Nvidia's Quadro Sync technology for more robust display synchronization. Likewise, only the two newest high-end Quadros are compatible with Nvidia's SLI platform for handling multiple GPUs in a single setup. While the K620 and K2200 are based on the company's "Maxwell" next-generation architecture, the others rely on Kepler processors.
In addition to the hardware improvements, the new Quadro GPUs will allow remote users to access workstation graphics from any device, including mobile ones, and they will facilitate switching between local and cloud-based graphics to make use of Nvidia's Iray rendering solution. The updated cards will run professional applications from Adobe and Autodesk up to 40 percent faster than the previous generation of Quadros, according to Nvidia.
The new Quadro boards are expected to ship in the fall, but Nvidia has not yet disclosed pricing details.