From: Axel Kohlmeyer (
Date: Thu Jul 05 2007 - 09:42:37 CDT

On Thu, 5 Jul 2007, Ignacio Fernández Galván wrote:

IFG> Hi all,

hi ignacio,

IFG> I'm considering upgrading my workstation, and I'd like to choose a
IFG> video card that would work nicely with VMD under Linux. Particularly,
IFG> I'd be interested in volume colouring of isosurfaces, GLSL rendering
IFG> and, of course, overall performance. Considering the different card
IFG> features and driver availability, does anyone have any advice on which
IFG> cards to go for or to run away from? If possible, I'd like more or less

you are asking for a lot and with linux right now, the only
sensible option is to get an nVidia card. full GLSL support
requires a fairly recent card (i've had good experiences with
G70 generation cards, GeForce7800 GS and Quadro FX4500), and
in my experience the (much more expensive) quadro cards tend
to be a bit more reliable. however, bugs in the drivers/cards
exposed by VMD tend to be showing up and vanish depending on
the specific driver release, so a consumer model (=GeForce)
can work just as well, if you put in a little extra for trying
multiple driver versions. in terms of reliability and budget
you should stay away from the 'extreme' models. generally a
second tier chipset of the previous generation seems to provide
a better price/performance ratio than a budget model of the
latest generation and will not bother you with excessive heat
or noise. ...and for linux you don't have to pay attention
to support for directx v(n+1). ;-)

as for other options:
- ATI/AMD cards seem to work occasionally, but VMD triggers a lot
  of bugs in the drivers and ATI/AMDs support for linux is not
  very good.
- Intel graphics are very basic and do not provide high performance
  for OpenGL (some call them 'graphics decelerators') and not GLSL
  (at least for the ones that i checked). intel has recently started
  to put more effort into supporting their graphics with linux, but
  i suspect it will take a while until it shows, and a budget nvidia
  card will beat those intel chips on any occasion anyways.
- the rest is not worth thinking about at all.


IFG> normal cards and not professional/expensive/hard-to-find ones.
IFG> Thanks in advance
IFG> Ignacio
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Axel Kohlmeyer
   Center for Molecular Modeling   --   University of Pennsylvania
Department of Chemistry, 231 S.34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323
tel: 1-215-898-1582,  fax: 1-215-573-6233,  office-tel: 1-215-898-5425
If you make something idiot-proof, the universe creates a better idiot.