With the recent release of the Iray renderer for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, NVIDIA has also launched a new range of professional workstation GPUs including the Quadro M4000 and M5000. They all feature second generation Maxwell 2.0 architecture and replace the previous Quadro Kepler range. All Quadro GPUs within this range also support NVIDIA Boost 2.0 technology which means that the clock speed is increased until the GPU reaches a predetermined temperature, offering a stable boost in performance.
The Quadro M6000 is NVIDIA’s flagship GPU Much like the previous generation it is based on the more powerful GPU core the GM200. This gives it 3,072 CUDA cores and 12GB of GPU memory. The M4000 and M5000 uses a lesser powerful GM204 GPU core. Both of these have 8GB of GPU memory but the M5000 memory clock has been raised to 6.6GHz compared to the M4000 which has 6GHz.
NVIDIA Quadro M5000 specification
With the Quadro M6000 being the flagship GPU, it does mean that it comes at a much higher price at around £4,000. The next model down the range which is the Quadro M5000 still packs many high performance features whilst maintaining a much lower price point at around £1,500. The M5000 follows on from the previous K5200 utilising a single 6 pin connector and a dual slot shroud. One major upgrade for the M5000 is the number of DisplayPort’s allowing for up to four 4K displays and a single DVI port for backwards compatibility.
The number of CUDA cores present in the M5000 has been reduced from 2,304 as seen in the K5200 down to 2,048. Also there is a drop in texture mapping units (TMU) but an increase in render output units (ROP). What is important to note however is the increase in GPU clock speed on those CUDA cores as the M5000 has 861 MHz which is around a 30% increase over the K5200 which has just 667 MHz. This rearrangement of features is important for one factor and that is power consumption. With the performance upgrade the M5000 remains at 150w which is the same as the K5200. This makes Maxwell 2.0 more energy efficient as NVIDIA have developed a new range of GPU’s that not only delivers improved performance per CUDA core but also improved performance per watt.
Iray Production rendering speed
Using the Autodesk 3ds Max headphones example scene from NVIDIA, the Quadro M5000 reaches 2,000 passes in just 30 minutes for a 4K production quality image. The difference between 15 second update intervals and disabling the preview was negligible when rendering locally. However we did notice a change in render times whilst using NVIDIA’s streaming technology. With 15 second intervals the render time increased to 42 minutes. With preview disabled the render times dropped back down to 30 minutes. So if you plan on streaming, it is best to disable the preview in order to get the fastest render result.
As a comparison we tested the rendering speed of the Iray Interactive renderer in production mode. We found that Iray Interactive took 52 minutes to reach 2,000 passes. There is also a clear difference in render quality compared to Iray with reflections and shadows diminished. The slower performance of Iray Interactive is to be expected though as it designed to run continuously whilst interactively working on a 3D scene and keeping lag to a minimum.
Iray Interactive and ActiveShade performance
To test the performance of Iray Interactive in ActiveShade we set up streaming using the M5000. On a separate machine with the Quadro M5000 installed and Iray Server enabled, the rendered content is streamed back to the client machine. This improves interactive performance by freeing up the client so that it does not take part in any rendering. The M5000 provides rendered feedback in no time at all through the ActiveShade window whilst minimising noise. Have a look at the results in the video below.
Quadro M5000 verdict
Having used the second generation Maxwell architecture, the Quadro M5000 not only offers stability and reliability due to the extensive workstation certification and improved power consumption, it also delivers very fast results. Thanks to the large number of CUDA cores, high clock speed and a large amount of GPU memory for those complex scenes, the M5000 reaches incredible rendering speeds in Iray as well as providing fast ActiveShade feedback in 3ds Max.