Sapphire release Mac Pro compatible graphics card

Written by Neil Roberts

Sapphire/RedsharkSapphires Radeon HD 7950

Sapphire Technology have announced the release of the first new Mac Pro compatible graphics card for a long time, the Radeon HD 7950

According to the press release "The HD 7950 Mac Edition is based on AMD's latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. This highly acclaimed architecture delivers a significant graphics performance boost for Mac Pro users in a wide range of applications including gaming, audio or video editing and content creation. For example, gaming frame rates are increased by over 200%, general benchmark performance increased by around 30% and graphics intensive benchmarks increased by as much as 300% compared with the NV 8800GT commonly used in these machines"

It's interesting that they compare the performance with the Nvidia 8800GT and not with the Radeon cards that were fitted as standard in most Mac Pros.

"The SAPPHIRE HD 7950 Mac Edition is compatible with Apple Mac Pro models from 2010 and later with an available PCI-Express x16 slot. Two six-pin power cables required are supplied with the card. A driver disk is provided which enables the card to be used with Mac OS X 10.7.5 (Lion), 10.8.2 (Mountain Lion) or later.

The SAPPHIRE HD 7950 Mac Edition can also be used in the latest PC architectures. It has Dual Firmware support via a simple Firmware (Dual BIOS) switch. In one position the Sapphire HD 7950 MAC Edition supports Mac OS X/Windows under non-UEFI compliant mode and in the other it supports Windows with UEFI hybrid firmware enabled. A Windows driver disk is also included.

Under Windows, additional features are supported, including hardware acceleration of video decoding, HDMI audio pass through and additional display resolutions."

Dual Firmware

The dual firmware is clever but it requires a physical dipswitch to be changed which doesn't make it very useful for running boot camp.

The last line about hardware acceleration and HDMI passthrough in windows suggests that these are not available in OSX.

The card supports PCI express 3 although currently only in Windows (as Mac Pros only have PCI express 2 at the moment)

Interestingly the press release states that it is compatible with Mac Pros from 2010 onwards but the system requirements state that a Mac Pro 4.1 from 2009 is the minimum.

The most intriguing thing for me though is that if you were Sapphire, would you release a card that was only suitable for an aging population of Mac Pros? I think we might see these in the new Mac Pro when it arrives.

Tags: Technology

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