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Editor’s Pick of the Week, 17 in a Series

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

Until recently, extreme gamers — you know the type: 19, slouched in a ripped, black Naugahyde gaming chair, surrounded by eerie blue glow, the clash of combat, and a ring of empty Bawls cans — had a ton of mind-boggling graphics cards from which to choose like – dude – way before the smaller market of extreme MCAD and CAE users got their due. As a gumshoed editor covering this stuff, I was, frankly, jealous of what the kids got to play with while you were only designing stuff to change the real world. Then, a few years back, NVIDIA went about changing all that with its Quadro cards. With its release of the new Quadro FX 3700 high-end graphics board, gamers might get jealous of the engineers for once because the Quadro 3700 rocks.

The Quadro FX 3700 graphics board is built for interactive visualizations: 112 parallel processors, 512MB of onboard graphics memory, a 256-bit memory interface, and PCI-Express Gen 2 support. That last point means that the Quadro FX 3700 essentially doubles the data transfer rate between the graphics processor and the Gen 2 chipsets to 16GBps. In practical terms, these specs mean that you can actually interact with large, complex models beefed up with realistic material surface properties such as casting effects, porosity, or even lighting effects dynamically in the way that you always knew you should be able to do it, but could not.

One of its cool characteristics is that the Quadro FX 3700 automatically configures your graphics hardware and software for maximum application performance; NVIDIA calls this technology ACE — Application Configuration Engine. Complementing that is NVIDIA’s SLI (Scalable Link Interface) technology, which scales graphics performance, enhances image quality, and expands display real estate dynamically so you don’t have to mess with settings that you don’t really understand anyway.

I could go on and talk about vertex scaling, the NVIDIA Unified Architecture, CUDA for massively parallel computation application development, and other often-incomprehensible stuff that graphics board vendors need to say about their products. Let’s leave it at this: NVIDIA says that its new Quadro FX 3700 can deliver a performance increase of up to 2X when compared to its previous generation of standard-setting cards. “WoW,”* as extreme gamers would say or, in engineer speak, “fast and powerful is good.”

You can expect to see the Quadro FX 3700 available on the shelf or as an option for workstations from outfits like Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun soon. I could not find it on the PNY Technologies site yet, but; NVIDIA says that the Quadro FX 3700 will cost around $1599. Check out today’s Pick of the Week write-up for more, including a link to the Quadro FX 3700 Web page.

Thanks, Pal – Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering magazine

*“WoW” is a pun on “World of Warcraft,” a hugely popular online game for extreme gamers.

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.