From: Stéphane Teletchéa (
Date: Wed Dec 21 2005 - 07:56:24 CST

Michael T. Davis a écrit :
> Recently, Jindal Shah wrote...
>>We are planning to buy new computers and want to make sure that VMD with
>>latest features would run properly. The card of choice is:
>>256MB PCI Express x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X600 SE HyperMemory
>>Does anybody have any experience with this graphics card?
> I am Jindal's IT support and I wanted to follow-up with an answer to one of
> the responses that Jindal received. The systems in question will be running
> Windows XP Pro on a 3.0GHz Dual Core Pentium D. We could go with an Nividia-
> based system, but for an equivalently configured system in all other respects,
> it's going to cost $600 more per system. The Nvidia card in question is...
> 256MB PCI Express x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) nVidia GeForce 6800
> (The vendor has a few different lines of systems and the Nvidia-based system
> comes from a different line than the ATI-based system. The computer system
> architectures are the same.) Are we really going to be able to appreciate
> that much better performance with the Nvidia-based system under VMD?
> Thanks,
> Mike

I can give you two advices (from being a ancient Corporate hardware
tester for a major linux distribution) :
1 - HyperMemory is really faking the performance of the card, don't
trust the X600 appelation since it is misleading. Hypermemory consist in
using the main memory as the graphics card memory via the PCI express
port. This implies the main memory available will be lower in the ati's
configuration than in the nvidia's configuration and the X600
HyperMemoryperformance will be less (and can be very very much less)
than the regular X600.

2 - That said, nvidia has gained respect about their drivers performance
and reliability under linux for years, although ati is just becoming
interesting into it. Under windows, the 6800 would alredy be the best
choice (considering performance) but under linux, i'd expect a 5 to 10
times better performance in the nvidia card relatively to the ati one.

However, considering the extra cost, i'm not sure it is worth the prize
(for 600$ more i'd expect a 7800 GTR based computer not *only* 6800).
One indicator you could get would be the FPS average given by glxgears
(assuming a 24/32-bit resolution for both card, and a screen size of
1600*1200, and the same hardware configuration) :
I'd say you could expect about 4000 FPS from the ATI's board and
12000/15000 FPS (this is great :-).

On my relatively modest computer (GeForce4MX PIV 2.6Ghz HT), i already
get 2000 FPS on such a configuration and it is reasonnably fast to use
(seeing molecule about 100 000 atoms in size).

To be short :-) : buy the NVIDIA's computer if your manufacturer is able
to diminish the extra money to something about +200-250$ (not 600$!) or
consider the ATI solution, being conscient : performance will be far
lower (but should be already sufficient) but drivers are for the moment
not optimal (but revisions are made relatively fast by ATI).
The price or the bet ?

BTW, consider using Mandriva2006 box edition on it :-) (you'll get
drivers for both cards already bundled).

Hoping this helped you,


Stéphane Téletchéa, PhD.        
Unité Mathématique Informatique et Génome
INRA, Domaine de Vilvert                  Tél : (33) 134 652 121 / 3086
78352 Jouy-en-Josas cedex, France         Fax : (33) 134 652 901