AMD launches the FirePro V4900

OpenGL on the cheap, six monitors for even less

FirePro LogoAMD (NYSE:AMD) just launched a new FirePro GPU, the V7900 and V5900 now have a little brother, the Turks based V4900. In case it isn’t obvious, this new part is the low end FirePro we all knew was coming, and it rounds out the new Northern Islands based lineup.

Not much to say about this part, the original Turks chip was a 480 shader unit with a 128-bit memory bus, and so is the V4900. AMD claims that it beats the older Evergreen based V4800 by wide margins, but keeps the same $189 price. While it slaps the similarly priced Nvidia Quadro 600 around for performance, mainly because the FirePro has well more than twice the memory bandwidth, it is hardly a performance card.

That said, there is one area where the new FirePros stand out, and even the lowly V4900 is no exception, multi-monitor support. All of the Vx900 FirePros have at least three monitor outs, all of which are live simultaneously. To make things better, the two DisplayPort 1.2 ports support daisy chaining monitors, allowing up to six monitors from a single V4900. Sadly there are no DP1.2 monitors on the market, but AMD claims the first crop of breakout boxes and 1 to 3 dongles are imminent. We honestly can’t wait, these are long overdue.

For the OpenGL and ‘professional’ markets, having a cheap solution that supports six monitors is a clear win. Currently, AMD is the only company that supports this monitor count on a single card, cheap or not. With the V4900, you can go there for much cheaper than before.

Before you fall back asleep with all this scintillating news, there was one big nugget of information that SemiAccurate gleaned from the V4900 briefing, professional marketshare. When we last asked the question during the launch of the V7900 and V5900 last May, AMD’s share of this high margin market was in the low teens, 11-12% from memory. These are unofficial numbers, but we now hear that marketshare is around 18%, so a 50% gain in less than a year.

While unit sales in this space are shockingly small, margins aren’t. Small gains in this space can have a large effect on a company’s numbers, both up and down. If these unofficial, and we do stress that point, numbers are real, this slightly more than small gain will have some very interesting echoes over the next few quarters.

Overall, the V4900 is the volume leader for the FirePro line, not a performance monster, but untouchable for at least one feature. The new line looks to be a success in the market, and AMD has an upgraded line of GPUs coming in the near future too. 2012 is going to be very interesting for the professional GPU space, keep an eye on it.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate