I read that Pedro Cotter was using a PCIe Matro G550 card in his Amithlon system so I decided to test one out. I had removed all the additional framebuffer drivers from my kernel so I did a quick compile of a new one re-adding the Matrox framebuffer and ATI Radeon framebuffer (that one will be tested next). I removed the nVidia FX 5200 64MB PCI card and installed the Matrox G550 32MB PCIe card. Powered on (I had already swapped out the kernel on my DOS boot partition and edited the “small” file to reference it), and it booted just fine to my Workbench. Went in to Picasso96Mode prefs and selected the Matrox-1 card as the board in Picasso96Mode. Rebooted and all continued to work though I lost a few hi-res hi-color modes, 1650×1080 @ 32 bit and 1280×1024 @ 32 bit, leaving on the 8 bit and 16 bit modes of those resolutions. I use my own defined 1280×720 @ 32bit so no worries. The reason is the lower amount of available memory the Matrox framebuffer allows, only 4 MB versus the 16 MB you get out of an nVidia card. I had to recreate a 320×240 mode as the one I created for my nVidia card threw an “input signal out of sync” on my monitor(s). Did some regular use testing and didn’t feel much difference, and did some benchmark testing which showed a significant reduction in most test. A few scored higher, but on average most were slower, some significantly slower. I attribute this to those functions being tested were not hardware assisted. I believe nVidia has the highest amount of hardware accelerated functions enabled which gives it a performance advantage.
In real use I’m not sure it’s something you’ll notice that much if at all. Windows still open and move without feeling different, games still are fast enough. Simple Quake timedemo demo1 showed less framerate than the nVidia card, but it was still smooth and above 30 fps at 1024 x 768 @ 16bit.
This opens up a PCI slot for the Catweasel (yay) and gives more options for new(er) motherboard choices with supported chipsets, as a lot of the latest ones typically only had two PCI slots (Video and Networking or Video and Audio) and a few PCIe slots. Now you can have PCI Audio and Networking and PCIe Hardware Accelerated Video.
I plan to run benchmarks in SysSpeed for each video card and save the results as a module and make them available for download as well as displaying the overall results.