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Graphics card upgrade

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  • Subject: [mg78079] Graphics card upgrade
  • From: "Steve Luttrell" <steve at>
  • Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 06:44:59 -0400 (EDT)

I just want to share with people a pleasant experience that I have had with 
the greatly improved response of interactive 3D graphics in Mathematica 6 
having upgraded my graphics card.

Old card: ATI Radeon 9600. Fill rate 1300 MTextels/s. This card is very nice 
for general purpose use, but it struggles to keep up with large interactive 
3D graphics.
New card: nVidia 7600GS. Fill rate 4800 MTextels/s. This choice of card was 
constrained by the limited 300W power supply in my computer; more MTextels/s 
needs more clock speed and hardware parallelism which needs more watts.

I wasn't disappointed. Interactive 3D manipulation of large graphic objects 
(e.g. a 3D plot of a cloud of 12,000 points) had a fast update rate, i.e. 
motion was now smooth with the new card, rather than jerky as it was with 
the old card.

I don't know to what extent this improved performance generalises across 
other types of graphics. I have tried 3D graphics with large numbers (i.e. 
many thousands) of points, lines, spheres, etc, and in all cases there was a 
large improvement so that a fast update rate resulted. I guess that most of 
the interactive graphics computations occur on the graphics card itself for 
this simple type of 3D graphic, so you see the full effect of the relative 
performance of the-new-versus-the-old graphics card.

It seems that a modest investment in a good graphics card is well worthwhile 
if you plan to do interactive graphics with Mathematica 6. Presumably, a 
top-of-the range graphics card (currently approx 20,000 MTextels/s fill 
rate) would give a proportionately faster response.

Steve Luttrell
West Malvern, UK. 

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