Theo Valich reports NVIDIA's GeForce graphics cards are whiping the floor with ATI's Radeon cards in Folding@Home. He noticed the GeForce 9600 GSO, a cheap $50 graphics card, easily out-folds the ten times more expensive ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2.
In the past weeks, I’ve conducted a series of tests with various graphics cards (all that I own or could put my hands on), and the results were quite depressing if you own an ATI card. I’ve asked some of my contacts in AMD why the performance is so bad and the answers were ranging from “we wanted to make best gamer’s card, not a card for Folding” to sad silence. It seems to me that the difference lies in shader type and clock: ATI’s R6xx and RV7xx architecture lies around big fat units and lot of tiny ones (64+256 in case of Radeon 3800, 80+720 in case of Radeon 4800), and the clock is much lower than in case with GeForce cards. At the same time, Nvidia went the other route and came up with large number of “fat” units, while the company didn’t even count the “thin” (MADD) ones.
When we compare the GTX280 and 4870X2, comparisons are just astounding: in a period of a month, EVGA’s GTX280 SSC achieved an average of 6,802 points per day, while ATI Radeon 4870X2 managed puny 3,870 ppd. At the same time, I’ve witnessed higher PPD scores achieved even by two-year old GeForce 8800GTS 640 MB, which was quite a surprise.