Being a gamer, when anybody talks about graphics cards then our minds tend to automatically flicker to Gaming Graphics Cards. Why is this? Because most users are unaware that there are other types of graphics cards too and if they do, it’s unlikely that they know the difference. No doubt you’ve heard the term “Workstation” bounced around in a hardware discussion from time to time, so how is this different from a Gaming GPU?
To put it simply they are built differently, with a different purpose. In saying that, it might lead you to think that the hardware that is used within them is much different… which is not the case. The real difference lies with the firmware and the drivers which deal with the GPU.
It should come as no surprise to you that there is a difference between a game and a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program for example. To start with, there is generally a huge difference in price. On average, games cost £50 whereas software licenses can cost anything between £100-£10,000. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the top end software, then you are going to want to know a bit more about the difference in GPU’s to avoid wasting your money on a GPU that isn’t tailored to your needs.
In the scenario of a Workstation, we are assuming that you are using a 3D modelling software or CAD program. If you’re designing with such programs, then accuracy is a priority. The designs that you work with could involve geometry that could easily exceed billions of triangles and if this is the case, then you will need a GPU that can process that efficiently without delaying your work.
You may think that this kind of accuracy is not needed but you have to think about what is being designed. If you are designing an airplane, for example, a miss-calculation could lead to a fatal disaster. The calculations that are made when formulating a GPU need to be measured to many decimal places and the units that are being measured can be anything from microns to miles.
Workstation GPU’s are tailored to work great with OpenGL and also tend to utilise GPU computing which is when the GPU performs more calculations than the main processor(s).
The main goal for a gaming GPU is to provide smoothness to a game. It is less about the accuracy of the geometry than the FPS (Frames Per Second). In ways, the gaming needs are the opposite of the Workstation because it has a low polygon count which can be processed easily for the best FPS.
Games are commonly made up of pre-defined textures and bitmaps which work towards the better FPS that makes games so enjoyable to play. Let’s be honest, we have all had one of those days when your PC just isn’t playing ball and you are getting 2 FPS and it’s just painful.
When gaming, you may have noticed that DirectX is installed or updated when you play certain games. Gaming GPU’s are tailored to work well with this.
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