This is shaping up to be a big year for virtual reality, though not just on the consumer side with headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. On the developer side, we've already seen some VR-ready workstation solutions arrive, and you can add an updated FirePro W9100 graphics card from AMD to the pile.
AMD doubled the amount of onboard GDDR5 memory to 32GB, making the FirePro W9100 the world's first workstation graphics card to offer content creators and professional graphics artists such a large memory buffer.
"The imagination of the creator is limitless, so much so that the professional creator consumes all available resources to produce new and never before seen designs and experiences. Some professional creative workflows demand very high bandwidth memory subsystems while others demand high memory size. AMD pioneered the era of High Bandwidth and Ultra Efficient Memory through the introduction of HBM technology in 2015 and will bring it to content creators with the introduction of Radeon Pro Duo graphics. With the new AMD FirePro W9100 32GB, AMD is unleashing the world’s largest memory size professional workstation graphics card," said Raja Koduri, senior vice-president and chief architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD.
It was only a month ago that Nvidia launched its Quadro M6000 with 24GB of GDDR5 memory. AMD leapfrogs back in front in the race to offer the most onboard memory, which it accomplished by swapping out the original FirePro W9100's 4Gb GDDR5 memory chips with 8Gb GDDR5 memory chips. All other specs are the same—the FirePro W9100 boasts 2,816 stream processors, 176 texture units, 64 ROPs, a 512-bit memory bus, and a core clockspeed of 930MHz.
AMD's pushing the VR angle with this card, and toward that end, it also introduced its FireRender plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max, which enables VR content creators to play with photorealistic rendering and enhanced 4K workflows. Outside of VR content creation, the FirePro W1900 is a powerful card for CAD work, virtualization, and other professional grade tasks.
The FirePro W9100 with 32GB of GDDR5 memory will be available this quarter for $4,999 MSRP.