• CGNetworks Feature ::Product Focus
    Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200 Review

    Joseph Tan, 11 January 2005
    The Wildcat Realizm is 3Dlabs' new line of workstation graphics cards designed for professional CAD, DCC, and visualization.

    The Wildcat Realizm features programmable vertex, pixel/fragment shaders and comes equipped with the industry's largest amount of onboard memory for an AGP card (512MB).

    It also supports up to 16GB of addressable virtual memory for managing large datasets and shaders.

    With such an impressive feature set, we put the Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200 to the test and compare their performance with the NVIDIA Quadro FX 1100 and FX 3000 cards.
    Wildcat Realizm 100 Wildcat Realizm 200
    Onboard GDDR3 memory 256MB 512MB
    Max. digital resolution per connector at 32-bit colour 16:10 = 3200 x 2000
    16:9 = 3392 x 1908
    4:3 = 2928 x 2196
    16:10 = 4576 x 2860
    16:9 = 4832 x 2718
    4:3 = 4176 x 3132
    Max. analog resolution per connector at 32-bit colour 16:10 = 2736 x 1710
    16:9 = 2888 x 1625
    4:3 = 2496 x 1872
    16:10 = 2736 x 1710
    16:9 = 2888 x 1625
    4:3 = 2496 x 1872
    Video output Two single-link DVI-I Two dual-link DVI-I
    Framelock and Genlock support No Yes
    MSRPUS$825 US$1,199
    Power consumption 75 watts 85 watts

    The Wildcat Realizm features:

    • Full programmability and floating-point capabilities through the entire graphics processing pipeline.
      • 36-bit vertices, 32-bit pixels, 16-bit back-end pixel processing.
      • Programmable floating-point vertex shaders (16 in total, up to 1k instructions. Supports subroutines, loops, and conditionals)
      • Programmable floating-point fragment/pixel shaders (48 in total, up to 256k instructions. Supports subroutines, loops, and conditionals).
    • Texture sizes up to 8k x 8k
    • 64-bit hardware accumulation buffers
    • Independent, dual 400MHz 10-bit DACs
    • 3-pin DIN connector for shutter glasses
    • Single slot AGP 3.0 card, requires dual slots to accommodate shroud.
    • OpenGL 1.5, OpenGL Shading Language Extensions, OpenGL 2.0 (from Quarter 1 2005), and DirectX 9.0 (HLSL, VS 2.0, PS 3.0) support.
    A Closer Look at the Cards

    Both Wildcat Realizm cards are full-length boards occupying one AGP slot and a second to make room for the air flow shroud. If your workstation does not allow for a full-length AGP card, the end plastic bracket can be removed.

    A single 60mm cooling fan forces air across the plastic shroud to cool the Wildcat Realizm VPU and RAM chips. The large fan stays relatively silent in operation, which may be a relief to users accustomed to the jet-like whine from video cards such as the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000.

    Removing the shroud (which also voids your warranty), we can see that the Wildcat Realizms are quite compact. Heatsinks cover the VPU and RAM chips. The Wildcat Realizm 200 is populated with additional RAM chips on the opposite side of the board without attached heatsinks, and can accommodate the optional MultiView board which provides GenLock capability.
    The differences between the Wildcat Realizm 100 (right) and 200 (left) are also apparent on the number of DVI transmitters installed.

    For users wanting to drive massive high-resolution monitors (such as the 2560 x 1600 pixel 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display), the Wildcat Realizm 200's dual-link DVI capability is needed to provide the bandwidth.

    Single-link DVI tops out at around 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution on DVI. Since both video cards have dual DVI outputs, up to two monitors can be driven simultaneously.


  • 3DLabs' Acuity Windows Manager

    On the software support side, 3Dlabs supplies Windows 2000/XP 32-bit drivers only and said that it will eventually support native drivers for Windows XP 64-bit (Q1 2005), Linux 32-bit (Q4 2004), and Linux 64-bit (Q1 2005) . The 64-bit support meaning Athlon64 and Opteron support.

    The 3Dlabs Acuity tool is part of the Windows XP and Windows 2000 driver set, providing the standard options for multi-display and graphics settings such as full-screen antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, vertical sync, and monitor spanning.

    The Acuity Windows manager properties allow transparent dragging windows, multiple desktops, and hotkeys settings.

    The multiple desktop feature replicates the taskbar and desktop icons and gives a separate clear desktop work area. The Hotkey functionality requires a combination of ALT, SHIFT, or CTRL keys to bind key strokes to functions.

    There didn't seem to be a way to set separate refresh rates between 2D and 3D (OpenGL or Direct3D) displays. Overall Acuity is a useful tool and is mandatory now that competing products have similar tools.
    Benchmark machine
    3DBOXX 7108 workstation
    CPUs Dual Opteron 248 (2.2GHz)
    Motherboard Tyan Thunder K8W
    Memory 2GB total (Four 512MB ECC DDR PC3200 modules).
    Hard disk Four 36GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA (Western Digital WD360GD).
    One drive used non-RAID. Remaining three drives in RAID 5 array via RAIDCore controller.
    Video cards 3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm 100 (256 MB)
    3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm 200 (512 MB)
    NVIDIA Quadro FX 1100 (128 MB)
    NVIDIA Quadro FX 3000 (256 MB)
    Software and Settings
    OS Windows XP SP2
    Video Driver Unless otherwise stated the following driver versions were used:
    3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm 4.03.0176
    3Dlabs 3ds max driver 3Dl23dsmax (dated 18 Nov 04)
    NVIDIA ForceWare 61.77
    NVIDIA MAXtreme 3ds max driver
    DirectX 9.0c
    Screen settingsAnalog RGB
    1280x1024 pixels 32-BPP @ 75Hz

    Benchmarks

    Here we see how the Wildcat Realizms measure up in their rendering performance. We compare the performance of the Wildcat Realizm with each other and the NVIDIA Quadro FX 1100 and Quadro FX 3000.

    The software benchmarks that were used:

    1. SPECviewperf 8.0.1
    2. Discreet 3ds max 7 SP1 ("bmark" benchmark )
    3. MAXON CineBench 2003
    SPECviewperf Benchmark

    SPECviewperf is a OpenGL performance benchmark program featuring datasets from applications such as 3dsmax, CATIA, EnSight, Maya, Pro/ENGINEER, Solidworks, and Unigraphics. 3Dlabs predominately features SPECviewperf results on its website and marketing materials, so let's see how the boards compared!

    Running SPECviewperf, the Wildcat Realizm cards do indeed shine over the NVIDIA Quadro boards, particularly the 3dsmax-03 and ensight-01 tests. The results from the Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200 were almost identical.

    Interestingly, the Wildcat Realizm 100 repeatedly posted significantly higher scores in proe-03 over the Wildcat Realizm 200 - there should be no reason for this.
    The Quadro FX 3000 scored a little higher than the Quadro FX 1100 but was still a significant distance behind the Wildcat Realizms.
    3ds max 7 "bmark" Benchmark

    SPEC also offers a 3ds max benchmark called SPECapc for 3ds max 6 . Although the NVIDIA Quadro cards had no problems with running this benchmark, the Wildcat Realizm failed to complete it using 3ds max 6 SP1 and the Wildcat Realizm 3ds max 6 driver running under Windows XP SP2. As a result we benchmarked the cards with "bmark", a collection of 3ds max benchmark scripts.

    In 3ds max the Quadro FX 3000 posts significantly higher scores than the FX 1100 and both Wildcats. Even the Quadro FX 1100 was competitive against the Wildcat Realizms. Considering the performance of the Wildcat Realizm in SPECviewperf's 3ds max component, we expected far better performance when running a benchmark in the actual application.

    We initially ran the “bmark” test under 3ds max 6 and obtained very similar results to the final published ones. 3Dlabs requested a retest, as our results showed a discrepency with their claimed performance. Using a newer driver (4.04.0608) provided by 3Dlabs, we performed the retest with the Wildcat drivers configured for “3ds max” optimization and the “Dual Planes” feature enabled in 3ds max 7. Despite these changes and a full driver upgrade, our final results did not change significantly.

  • Maxon CineBench Benchmark

    Our final benchmark is MAXON CineBench 2003. The benchmark tool is based on Maxon's CINEMA 4D modeling, animation, and rendering software.

    The scores were taken from the graphics rendering tests where 100 CB-GFX units represented MAXON's reference 1GHz Pentium 4 machine in software render.

    Both OpenGL tests make use of the card's on-board transform and shading acceleration, but only the 'Hardware Lighting' test uses the full capability of the card with hardware lighting. This test showed relative parity between all the boards.


    Benchmark Conclusion

    From the benchmarks above, the overall performance of the Wildcat Realizm compared to the NVIDIA Quadro FX is somewhat strange. It is clear that the Wildcat trumps in the SPECviewperf benchmarks, but showed relatively no performance benefits in the real world applications.

    Full Screen Antialiasing (FSAA) Quality

    We compared the antialiased (AA) result between the Wildcat's SuperScene technology and the Quadro Ordered Grid FSAA technology by taking a screenshot of the transpar.max file in 3ds max 7. Both cards used their respective vendor-supplied 3ds max driver.

    We'll start with some viewport images in 3ds max showing aliased and antialiased images. We're only interested in AA quality so AF was set to auto/application-controlled. Using the supplied 3ds max driver, the Wildcat Realizm didn't actually antialias until anisotropic filtering (AF) was set to at least 2x. Further improvement in FSAA quality was seen when AF was set at 4x. This seems quite strange since antialiasing quality is independent of anisotropic filtering.

    Wildcat Realizm 200
    (click for full PNG-8 image)
    "8x AA" (rather no AA),
    auto AF
    8x AA, 2x AF 8x AA, 8x AF

    From these image samples the following are noted:

    • The Wildcat Realizm 8x AA appear to do a better job of smoothing the chessboard grid than the Quadro at 16x AA.
    • The Wildcat Realizm doesn't appear to do any antialiasing of the chess pieces themselves or the chess timer.
    • The Quadro FX 3000 renders the pawn chess pieces a lighter shade of green which would make the piece itself appear less "jagged" due to the reduced contrast against the background. The Quadro also appeared to exhibit rendering errors at the highest level of AA.
    Quadro FX 3000
    (click for full PNG-8 image)
    No AA, auto AF 8xS AA, auto AF 16x AA, auto AF

    The result is that the Wildcat's implementation of antialiasing obviously works well, but why is it that the board grid is antialiased but other objects such as the chess pieces and the chess timer are not? This selective method of antialiasing is puzzling.

    To gauge performance with FSAA turned on, we used CineBench 2003 with the maximum degree of AA and AF applied for both the Wildcat Realizm and the Quadro FX boards.

    Best quality is defined to be 8x AA, 8x AF for the Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200 and 16x AA, 8x AF for the Quadro FX 1100 and 3000. The Wildcat Realizm's AA performance was significantly less than the competing Quadros in CineBench 2003.


    3Dlabs Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200
    Manufacturer: 3Dlabs
    Configurations: • Realizm 100 (256MB, two single-link DVI)
    • Realizm 200 (512MB, two dual-link DVI, Genlock optional)
    Price:

    • Realizm 100 - USD $825
    • Realizm 200 -
    USD $1,199

    Hits: • Lots of on-board memory
    • Quiet operation
    • Performance was respectable, except when it came to anti-aliasing
    Misses:

    • Unless you need the additional memory, performance will generally be on par with Quadro FX 1100 with higher price tag.
    • 3ds max driver needs more testing

    Verdict: Would like to see more "cylinder-firing" grunt for the prices quoted

    Conclusion

    The Wildcat Realizm performed well in SPECviewperf, but lost its performance-leading results in 3ds max and CineBench. 3Dlabs said that we should have seen better performance in 3ds max's "Bmark", but we're sticking to our results because after three driver revisions and numerous benchmark testing we still got consistent results from day one.

    Maxon Cinebench showed that the Wildcat Realizms kept up with the Quadro FX 1100 and 3000 in the OpenGL benchmarks. Antialiasing performance was disappointing compared to the Quadro FX 1100 and 3000.

    The Wildcat Realizm 100 and 200 are quiet cards that operated with great stability, but the initial drivers worried us with rendering errors in 3ds max. 3Dlabs was responsive and the newer driver resolved some issues experienced, but left one antialiasing issue unresolved as this article was being finalized. The selective nature of the enabling antialiasing is puzzling, and last I heard anisotropic filtering did not have to be enabled for antialiasing to work.

    The Wildcat Realizm's strength: its large amount of onboard memory compared to the Quadros would have pushed large memory-intensive applications in the Wildcat's favor but none of our test software appear to take advantage of video cards with that kind of memory capability on offer.

    Price-wise the Wildcat Realizm commands a premium over the Quadros, so if you're in need of large amounts of onboard RAM (up to 512MB) the Wildcat Realizm would be worth looking at. For everything else, the Wildcat Realizm faces very stiff competition.

    Related Links

    3Dlabs
    Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation
    Maxon Cinebench



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