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Graphics Wars: The Big Summer Battle

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 4 comments

Analyst Opinion - Part of what makes this year somewhat different in graphics is that Intel has indicated that is now serious about graphics. Intel has been talking a lot about its upcoming graphics technology called Larrabee that it promises will surpass the best that both AMD/ATI and Nvidia will have on the market in two years. Having been down this path before, describing my feelings as a little skeptical would be an understatement. But Intel is a very capable company and it is executing very well at the moment. However, the first reviews of Intel’s new integrated part are available and, unfortunately, reality isn’t in line with expectations.

Looking at Intel’s competition, Nvidia is off doing something different, focusing on a cure for Cancer, Cystic fibrosis, and Parkinson’s disease ; it’s aggressively moving its graphics capability into areas that could prolong life. It is hard to argue that isn’t a good thing.

The ATI division from AMD, which had been a huge drag on the company for much of this year, is suddenly executing very well and seems to be delivering very competitive offerings. Many thought ATI cannot be competitive again, but its recent performance indicates that this concern may be unfounded.

Intel graphics : The hunt for credibility

The first independent review of Intel’s integrated graphics is out and it isn’t promising. Effectively, it indicates that the initial product is below expectations and less capable than similar products from both Nvidia and ATI.

This could be largely due to the fact that it is a brand new part and that the software and drivers aren’t optimized yet. This is not uncommon for a new part. Also, since this is a mobile platform product and Intel generally favors battery life over performance in mobile graphics, this may also be the cause for Intel’s mobile graphics performance falling short. However, Intel promised impressive graphics and, at least initially, that isn’t what the first review is showcasing.

The difficulty for Intel is one of credibility in graphics. As the largest component vendor in the PC market, it comes to the table with a great deal of credibility in most areas. But it has failed to execute on promises and expectations in graphics since the late 90s when it first convinced me that they were serious about this segment. To get developers and OEMs excited about Larrabee, its next generation platform, they first have to demonstrate they can meet the performance expectations they set on current generation offerings.

ThisNvidia saves lives

Nvidia is aggressively responding to the idea that graphics is dead by showcasing the other things that a graphics card can do. While it was easy to get excited about the fact it was helping to make gaming physics go mainstream, it is its effort to cure diseases that scare the hell out of me that I actually find more interesting.

Out of Stanford here in California, the effort is Folding@home and it can be run on a number of machines from a variety of vendors but what makes the Nvidia part interesting is that it reported a 140x performance improvement with GeForce GPUs over the other platforms.

I’m a big fan of gaming and all that, probably way too much for my own good, but I’m even a bigger fan of living and this effort speaks to that. Nvidia has their big analyst event in a few weeks and a bunch of us will likely be reporting from this wonderful event from the floor. I’ll let you know then what wonders they showcase that week.

ATI : Finally executing

ATI has been off its game for awhile and the acquisition by AMD was largely made possible because it was in so much trouble. There was a lot of speculation that ATI was done and would take AMD with it and, don’t get me wrong, AMD has had a tough year this year. However the reviews on its 780G chipset from Tom’s Hardware and AnandTech gave me hope that its new 790GX part would kick butt. In addition, the first early review of the 4870 X2 graphics card is very positive as well.

Since it isn’t even September yet, the battles will only get bloodier. But for a technology that has its heart in gaming, is that really a bad thing ?

Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them. Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies.

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  • 0 Hide
    Milany , 11 August 2008 17:04
    I believe NVIDIA is loosing the GPU war big time.

    I am a big fan of the game (The Elder Scrolls - Oblivion) and if you ask me 50.000 players are going to switch from NVIDIA cards to ATI cards as soon as ATI hits the 1GB video memory mark. What wrong with the NVIDIA cards you all want to know, nothing it is just that the drivers are not supporting the game anymore. That’s why the latest card releases are not being bought by the high performance Oblivion players.

    So NVIDIA wake up and fix those drivers for the Geforce 8, 9 and 200 series or you are going to loose big time.
  • 0 Hide
    paradigital , 11 August 2008 18:12
    MilanyI believe NVIDIA is loosing the GPU war big time.I am a big fan of the game (The Elder Scrolls - Oblivion) and if you ask me 50.000 players are going to switch from NVIDIA cards to ATI cards as soon as ATI hits the 1GB video memory mark. What wrong with the NVIDIA cards you all want to know, nothing it is just that the drivers are not supporting the game anymore. That’s why the latest card releases are not being bought by the high performance Oblivion players. So NVIDIA wake up and fix those drivers for the Geforce 8, 9 and 200 series or you are going to loose big time.


    Yeah, I'm sure NVIDIA will lose sleep over a few hardcore die-hard fans of a game that's time has passed. :roll:


  • 0 Hide
    Milany , 11 August 2008 19:25
    Oww they will not sleep well when they figure it out themselves. Because loosing customers is going to hit them hard in the near future, and they know that they can’t get them back that easily.
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    paradigital , 11 August 2008 20:53
    Lol ok mate.

    Point taken, point ignored.