well, the driver issue… what use has a 9500pro for me if it doesn’t run under linux, which is the OS the program I am working on runs with?
And I would expect a 5600 to be much faster than a gf4 ti 4200, which was the cheap budget version one year ago, and as it is only about as fast as a 4200, I think you can really call this “disappointing”. the fx is the “great new thing with the cinefx engine”, and it is SLOWER than its predecessor. can’t really believe that.
And about the fragment program. if you start to learn about fragment shading NOW, you are likely to produce programs within the next months or even years, and as fragment programs are going to be the standard for this in the future, I think is does not really make sense to bother with register combiners or texture_env_combine now as this undoubtedly works fine, but is OUTDATED. So I think it does in fact make sense to discuss which graphics card with the fragment program extension to buy. At least, I find myself in this position and I am, as I said, quite frustrated as it seems that for an affordable amount of money, I can only get a graphics board that is slower than the one I already have, or which probably will not run under linux (ati. btw 9500pro is nearly sold out and 9600 is slower).
So at the moment, it seems like no board is the right one, however the idea to turn on nv30 emulation seems to be quite good .
So, what to do if you want to learn/use ARB_fragment_program?
You can always turn on the NV30 emulation on your GeForce. It’ll be slow, but it’ll work.
Also, you seem to be operating on the assumption that everything should be supporting ARB_fragment_program. This is a very powerful extension, exposing a vast wealth of possible graphical features. Also, hardware supporting this is still pretty new. You should be glad that a $100 graphics card can even support it (5200), slow though it may be.