Help Choosing a GPU?

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Aaron on 3 Apr 2013
I am looking into purchasing a GPU for running a monte carlo simulation. My research involves simulating millions of photons moving through a detector system. A perfect problem for a GPU.
However, I have hit a wall with my lack of familiarity with GPU specifications. I have been looking at the Quadro and GeForce cards and have found quite varied numbers in CUDA processors, memory, compute capability and clock speeds. For the purposes of computing, which are the most important specs to consider? Also, do you have suggestions on processors that work better than others with Matlab?
We are looking to spend $200-400. Will the cards in this range give us a reasonable performance with regard to our simulations?
Thanks! Aaron

Answers (1)

James Lebak
James Lebak on 5 Apr 2013
Obviously, it's going to depend on your problem, but the amount of memory on the card is a very important consideration. Estimate the size of your data set and make a guess at how many copies of the data might need to be in memory at once (just the input and the output? Or do you make intermediate copies as well)? If the cards you are considering can't hold this amount of data, then you may have to transfer data back and forth across the PCI bus, potentially erasing any performance gains you might otherwise have seen.
For the purposes of performance estimates, you might want to look at the GPUBench program on the file exchange. It includes performance results for MATLAB on different GPU hardware. You can find it here:
Cedric Wannaz
Cedric Wannaz on 9 Apr 2013
Thank you James, this is exactly the type of insights that I was looking for! I am not on the market at the moment, but certainly within the next 6 months (I have currently GPUs with cap. 1.1 and 1.2 on my machines, which I am going to update), and your answer helps me starting categorizing existing hardware.

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