Advertising Promotion: How to choose a graphics card for CAD

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Modern CAD/CAM/CAE workflows can put a heavy load on workstation resources with complex models demanding powerful, optimised graphics hardware. Designers and engineers need to be able to manipulate large assemblies smoothly on screen at the same time as visualising designs with real-world lighting and materials.

The AMD FirePro™ V5900 supports three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology

All design and engineering workflows are different and choosing a graphics card to match individual requirements can be a bewildering task. The needs of an automotive engineer performing digital mock-up, for example, can be very different to those of a product designer exploring concept models.

AMD FirePro™ graphics cards are specifically designed and certified for all the leading 3D CAD/CAM/CAE applications. The accompanying software is also important and graphics drivers are specifically optimised for individual 3D applications. This results in levels of application performance, reliability and image quality that cannot be matched by consumer graphics cards.

AMD FirePro™ graphics cards are also optimised to support professional design visualisation features, such as RealView in SolidWorks®, which adds realism through its use of real world materials and lighting, and Full Scene Anti Aliasing (FSAA), which removes the jagged edges often seen on the sides of a model.


AMD Eyefinity, a feature of all AMD FirePro graphics cards, provides multi-display support for advanced design and engineering workflows

They also feature AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, which enables two, three or more displays (up to six) to be driven from a single graphics card. Other professional graphics technologies require two physical cards to drive more than two displays.

Moving beyond graphics, the AMD FirePro™ Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) can be used to accelerate calculations traditionally carried out by Central Processing Units (CPUs), including simulation and rendering. This so-called General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) technology is supported through OpenCL, the open standard for computing across both CPUs and GPUs.

There’s an AMD FirePro™ graphic card for every type of 3D user. The latest additions – the AMD FirePro™ V3900, AMD FirePro™ V4900, AMD FirePro™ V5900, and AMD FirePro™ V7900 – are ideally suited to CAD/CAM/CAE workflows, from the entry-level, right up to the high-end.

Entry-level assembly modelling

AMD FirePro™ V3900

The AMD FirePro™ V3900 is ideally suited to CAD/CAM/CAE professionals who work with moderately complex models.

The card features 480 stream processors and 1GB of DDR3 memory, the largest memory footprint in its class. This provides good support for advanced 3D technologies such as Vertex Buffer Objects (VBOs), which allows 3D geometry to be loaded, stored and processed on the graphics card. VBOs boost 3D performance in certain applications including SolidWorks® and DS CATIA.

The FirePro™ V3900 has the added benefit of a half-height design so it can support both standard and low-profile workstation form factors, such as the HP Z210.

Small to medium sized assembly modelling

AMD FirePro™ V4900

The AMD FirePro™ V4900 offers a step up in terms of performance, handling small to medium sized models comfortably. Its 480 stream processors run at a quicker speed than those in the AMD FirePro™ V3900 and are partnered with 1GB of faster GDDR5 memory to boost memory bandwidth (64GB/sec compared to 29GB/sec in the AMD FirePro™ V3900).

The AMD FirePro™ V4900 also features more display outputs than the AMD FirePro™ V3900 – three instead of two, which helps support advanced multi-application design and engineering workflows. With three displays side by side, users can quickly switch between applications – including CAD, simulation, visualisation, document management, email and spreadsheets – compare rendering or simulation results side by side, and optimise part and assembly modelling.

The AMD FirePro™ V4900 also provides basic support for simulation through OpenCL in applications such as Dassault Systèmes Simulia Abaqus.

Medium to large assembly modelling

AMD FirePro™ V5900

The AMD FirePro™ V5900 delivers increased levels of performance, with a sweet spot for medium to large assembly modelling.

A total of 512 stream processors boosts the raw geometry processing capabilities, while a large 2GB GDDR5 frame buffer means even more complex models can be loaded into graphics memory. The AMD FirePro™ V5900 also provides improved performance for advanced real time visualisation capabilities such as SolidWorks® RealView and Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA).

Like the AMD FirePro™ V4900, the AMD FirePro™ V5900 has three display outputs and features AMD Eyefinity.

With faster GPU processing and increased memory there is improved support for simulation in OpenCL-capable Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) applications.

Large assembly modelling plus advanced visualisation

AMD FirePro™ V7900

The AMD FirePro™ V7900 is considered a high-end card. It takes performance levels up a notch with support for highly complex models and advanced real time rendering. With 1,280 stream processors and 2GB GDDR5 memory the card can also deliver superior levels of performance for simulation through OpenCL-capable FEA and CFD applications.

With four display outputs, the AMD FirePro™ V7900 not only supports multi-tasking workflows, but monitors can be arranged in a 2 x 2 array to form a ‘beyond HD’ power wall. This set-up is ideal and very cost-effective for large-scale digital mockup or group design review sessions.

The AMD FirePro™ V7900 also offers optional support for other advanced visualisation technologies such as 3D stereo and Framelock / Genlock, where the display output from individual workstations can be synchronised for even higher performance power walls.

More information about the new AMD FirePro graphics cards can be found at

To find out where to buy AMD FirePro Professional Graphics, click here.

Download your FREE AMD guide to improving your workstation experience, including practical advice on workstation tuning, upgrading and purchasing.

AMD FirePro™ offers something for all types of 3D users in design and engineering

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