There's no love lost between Nvidia and Intel, the two of which took years to come to an agreement to allow SLI technology on Intel chipsets and who now are feuding over whether or not Nvidia has the right to sell motherboard chipsets for next generation Nehalem CPUs. If you somehow missed all the recent verbal mayham, see here, here, and here.
Neither company has offered much restraint when it comes to taking shots at the other, and while Nvidia president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has been particularly candid, Nvidia is now looking to make its statement in court. The GPU maker on Thursday filed a countersuit in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware against Intel alleging breach of contract.
"Nvidia did not initiate this legal dispute," Huang said. "But we must defend ourselves and the right we negotiated for when we provided Intel access to our valuable patents. Intel's actions are intended to to block us from making use of the very license rights that they agreed to provide."
Nvidia's Drew Henry, general manger of MCP business, elaborated on the situation by saying Intel's actions could lead to customers eventually switching entirely to Intel-based product lineups. According to Henry, the dispute is making it hard to sell its products to motherboard and notebook makers while doubt remains over Nvidia's long-term roadmap.
I have an Alienware Area-51 m7700 laptop computer with 2GB of memory and an Nvidia GeForce 6800 Go with 256MB GDDR memory. It’s three years old and runs fine, but I would like to upgrade the graphics to get better video response. I play World of Warcraft and occasionally have problems with the video becoming a bit choppy. Plus, with the economy in its current poor state, I don’t really want to buy a new computer anytime soon, so upgrading my current computer seems like a good, relatively inexpensive way to go. The problem is, when I talked to a tech support person at Alienware, I was told a video upgrade isn’t available for my computer because the current videocards work with only the current bus configurations, not with my computer’s bus. Is there truly no way to upgrade my laptop’s video?
News site DailyTech has gotten its paws on AMD's upcoming ATI Radeon HD 4890 videocard from an undisclosed source based in Taiwan, and has thus been able to confirm rumored details of the new card's spec sheet.
Built around the RV790 core, the Radeon HD 4890, as received by DailyTech, comes with a core clock of 850MHz . The site also reports 1GB of GDDR5 memory running at 3,900MHz resulting in 124.8 GB/s of bandwidth. Final memory specs could change, however, as the card DailyTech received came with Qimonda chips, which declared insolvency (went bankrupt) back in January 2009.
No word yet on a projected price point or release date, but not to be outdone, Nvidia plans to go head-to-head with ATI's 4890 with its GeForce GTX 275. According to reports, the upcoming GTX 275 is being built around the G200b GPU core with 240 shader processors chugging along at 1,404MHz. Other specs include 80 texture units, 30 render back ends, and a 448-bit memory interface. GPU and memory clockspeeds are expected to debut at 633MHz and 2,322MHz, respectively.
Look for the GTX 275 to launch on April 9, 2009 for somewhere between $230 and $280.
Nvidia has been quite the busy body in the console market as of late. Earlier this week the graphics chip maker announced it had signed a tools and middleware license agreement with Sony to offer its PhysX technology software development kit (SDK) for use on the PlayStation 3 console, and then two days later, made a similar announcement regarding Nintendo's Wii console.
"Nintendo has reshaped the home entertainment and video game market with the success of the Wii console. Adding a PhysX SDK for Wii is key to our cross-platform strategy and integral to the business model for our licensed game developers and publishers,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA. “With NVIDIA PhysX technology, developers can easily author more realistic game environments for the evolving demands of a broad class of Wii gamers."
Three months ago, AMD had painted a gloom-and-doom future for Nvidia's PhysX technology, saying "There is no plan for closed and proprietary standards like PhysX. As we have emphasized, with our support for OpenCL and DX11, close and proprietary standards will die."
AMD wasn't just being a wet blanket, as they weren't the only ones to question to closed standards when it comes to in-game physics. This makes Nvidia's latest partnership with two major console makers a particularly interesting one, which could very well end up seeing more widespread PhysX support trickling over to the PC as a result.
If you're brand new to the DIY PC building scene, you may think Intel chipset-based motherboard owners have always been able to run multiple Nvidia videocards in SLI. You'd also be wrong. It was less than six months ago that Nvidia officially announced it was licensing its SLI technology to several top-tier motherboard makers for Intel's X58 chipset, in exchange for a fee. So we can't imagine anyone over at Nvidia doing cartwheels when end-users find a way to enable SLI on non-SLI certified boards with a relatively simple BIOS hack.
Citing an article in Taiwanese magazine PC Home Advance, TweakTown reports that not only is it possible, but it's been demonstrated on Gigabyte's EX58-UD4 motherboard. The magazine downloaded the latest F6 BIOS for a slightly different model, the EX58-UD4P, which comes with official SLI support, and slapped it on the less expensive non-SLI board.
Because the model numbers are different, the magazine noted the unsupported BIOS can't be installed using the built-in QFlash utility, and instead requires using the DOS-based SPIFLASH utility. Still a relatively easy hack considering no physical modifications to the board itself needs to be done.
It's unclear whether there were any undesirable side effects from using another board model's BIOS in place of the correct one. It's also unclear whether Nvidia will take measures to prevent this and future BIOS hacks from working with future driver releases.
According to Nvidia's Form 10-K filing for the fiscal year ended January 25, 2009, the graphics chip maker has spent $43.6 million to cover warranty and product replacement claims for GPUs suffering from a "weak die/packaging material set."
Nvidia had original set aside a one-time charge of $196 million when it was discovered some of its notebook graphics were failing at an "abnormal rate."
"The previous generation MCP and GPU products that are impacted were included in a number of notebook products that were shipped and sold in significant quantities," Nvidia said in the filing. "Certain notebook configurations of these MCP and GPU products are failing in the field at higher than normal rates. While we have not been able to determine a root cause for these failures, testing suggests a weak material set of die/package combination, system thermal management designs, and customer use patterns are contributing factors."
Given that only $43.6 million -- or 22 percent of the original amount -- has been spent so far, you can take this in one of two ways. Either the problem isn't as widespread as originally thought and the remaining $152.4 million will be more than enough to cover future claims, or there are a lot of mobile GPUs in the wild still to fail from the packaging defect.
Recently Via announced their VX855 Media System Processor that allows their Nano, C7 and Eden processors to support 1080p video. This entertains the possibility that Via will provide a more attractive option an Intel and Nvidia when it comes to platforms to base a netbook off of.
The VX855 is designed for mobile PCs and comes with an HD video processor that gives smooth, hardware accelerated playback of high definition videos encoded in H.264, MPEG2/4, DivX and WMV9.
“For the first time, system developers have an ultra low power media system processor that delivers high bit-rate HD video to small form factor and mobile devices,” said Via’s VP of Marketing, Richard Brown. “The VIA VX855 opens up exciting opportunities for several PC segments, particularly the mini-notebook category that will now be able to offer true 1080p HD video playback.”
No solid information as to when we can expect to see this powerful little chip make its way into netbooks and nettops alike, but if its as good as they say, we should see it making a splash relatively soon.
Amidst a jungle of ugly cases, iBuyPower has been managing to release some pretty impressive computers as of late. And, on top of offering all the latest processor that AMD and Intel have to offer, it looks like they’re pushing systems with Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision as well.
The Gamer Fire 640 will come with an AMD Phenom X3 720, 4GB DDR3, a 500GB HDD and a GeForce 9800GTX+, while it’s close brother, the Gamer Paladin F830 will come with an Intel Core i7 920, 6GB of memory, and a GTX 260 GPU. Both of these machines will come with Vista Home Premium 64-bit, and both will come with an Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision.
These machines run nearly $1,200 a piece, and are available for order right now. So, if you’re looking to check out the next step in 3D gaming, these guys are offering a pretty reasonable bundle to bring it to you.
Word on the web is that Nvidia will release its GTS 250 videocard sometime this week, which is essentially a rebranded 9800 GTX+. Nvidia's latest GeForce drivers -- WHQL 182.08 -- adds support for the upcoming card, while also extending SLI profile support for some newly released games.
Nvidia claims up to double-digit performance gains in handful of games with the new drivers versus 181.22, including up to 11 percent in Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, up to 10 percent in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and up to 10 percent in Race Driver: GRID at high resolution and AA.
The latest release also fixes a bug in Vista 32-bit with dual-GeForce 8600 GT videocards that prevented the Fluid Demo (using PhysX) from running while using hardware acceleration when SLI is enabled. Good thing too, lest anyone second guess investing in two 8600 GT cards.
After a week on hiatus (no podcaster’s strike, we promise you), the gang is back to report and share their thoughts on this week’s big tech happenings. Will and Gordon drop their two cents on the Intel-Nvidia feud, and the team lays out the benefits on Vista SP2. Will also shares his experience debating MacLife’s Robbie Baldwin on the ABC News Now cable show. Along with listener questions, Gordon’s rant of the week also returns, filled with more rage than ever. This week’s targets: Shakespeare, Microsoft Outlook and office thievery.
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