Staving off the upgrade bug while waiting for the inevitable next best thing that's always just around the corner can cause you to be in a perpetual state of limbo. But if you've been suffering from this phenomenon since the AGP days, now might be the perfect time to pull the trigger. Not only has Intel released it's Core i7 platform, but if your aging AGP videocard is a qualified BFG-branded unit, you might be able to score a free or low-cost ($50) PCI-E upgrade.
"Now, for a limited time, if you send us your BFG AGP card in good, working condition, we'll send you the PCI Express equivalent at no cost to you," BFG wrote on its AGP-to-PCI-E promotional page. "If you want to upgrade to an even better performing card, there is a nominal fee to do so. Offer good for U.S. customers only."
Furthermore, BFG's claim that the free PCI-E upgrade is equivalent to its AGP counterpart might be a bit modest in certain circumstances. For example, BFG will upgrade owners of GeForce 6800OC AGP videocards with just a 128MB frame buffer to a 9600GT OC PCI-E card with 512MB of memory. The same 9600GT OC is used for all but one of the free upgrades and the performance levels out as you move up the AGP food chain, but for $50, users can instead opt for a 9800GT OC.
The offer is available for a limited time, though BFG has not specified a more specific time frame. Current AGP owners will need to register their cards with BFG if they haven't already done so. But don't fret if you've lost the receipt - BFG says no proof of purchase will be required.
Hynix this week double-dipped into the record books by introducing the world's first and fastest 1 Gigabit GDDR5 graphics DRAM operating at 7Gb/s, a 40 percent improvement over 5Gb/s GDDR5. The new memory is built using a 54nm process and can process up to 28GB/s with a 32-bit I/O, the company claims. On a 512-bit memory bus, bandwidth should reach as high as 448GB/s.
In addition to speed, Hynix also emphasized power consumption. The new memory requires just 1.35V as opposed to 1.5V inherent in previous generation GDDR5 memory. This means that the improved GDDR5 not only bodes well for future high performance videocards, but the potential for lower heat and longer battery life could also be a boon for notebooks.
Hynix says its 1Gb GDDR5 graphics memory meets the JEDEC standard and plans to start volume production in the first half of 2009.
S3 Graphics, a subsidiary of VIA and a player in the low end graphics market, has launched its next generation Chrome 500 series. S3 claims its new add-in cards offer up to a 30 percent performance increase while supporting Blu-ray playback, streaming HD video, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.0 on both Windows and Linux operating systems.
"S3 Graphics has built upon the success of the Chrome 400 Series with another GPU line that fulfills user demand of a superior visual experience and product that extends beyond just graphics," said Dr. Ken Weng, GM for S3 Graphics. "Our latest Chrome 500 supports features that surpass those found in higher end products, like high quality HD video support. This truly is a power-efficient multimedia / multi-application processor that delivers."
S3's Chrome 530 GT is the first videocad to market from the new Chrome 500 series. The upgraded GPU makes a strong bid for HTPC enthusiasts with support for PiP Blu-ray playback, HDCP capable DVI-I and HDMI ports, and a low power draw rated at just 25W.
The Chrome 530 GT is available now direct from S3 Graphics for $45 and comes bundled with InterVideo WinDVD 8.
A report by Jon Peddie Research (JPR) earlier this week confirmed that AMD's recent success with its Radeon 4000 series has helped the company take back some market share from rival GPU maker Nvidia, while also forcing Nvidia and its partners to lower prices on the recently released GTX 200 series. It appears even more cuts are on the way.
DigiTimes, citing un-named sources at graphics cards makers, says that Nvidia "is planning to cut its graphics card prices in an attempt to curb further loss of market share" to AMD. For its part, AMD isn't finished taking it to Nvidia and anticipates grabbing 50 percent of the market following lowered prices on its ATI Radeon HD 4000 series.
In short, it continues to be a great time to be a PC gamer, and it only looks to get better as AMD and Nvidia battle on the pricing front.
Is there no such thing as bad news or is no news good news?
From ATI’s point of view, it’s no news. Speaking Thursday at AMD’s analyst day, ATI’s graphics chief, Rick Bergman said it would continue with a steady as she goes path. That’s no surprise as ATI has recently seen a resurgence in market share, revenue and reception by power users.
Next year, Bergman said ATI would build on its “sweet spot” strategy. Instead of building huge monolithic graphics cards as Nvidia does, it would continue to concentrate on great $200 to $300 parts and combine them to take on Nvdia’s high-end parts.
With no firm hardware to reveal, Bergman took a few shots at Nvidia’s widely reported mobile GPU failures and lack of DX10.1 support which, he said, is the easiest way for developers to get to DX11 next year.
ATI also expects to be the first to get to 40nm with its graphics and chipset parts, Bergman said. He noted that ATI was the first to 65nm, 80nm and 90nm for graphics parts. What isn’t clear is where those 40nm parts would be fabbed. Although strongly hinted that ATI’s graphics chips and chipsets would made on AMD’s recently spin-off fabs, neither Bergman nor Doug Grose, the new senior VP of The Foundry Company, would commit to it. Grose did say that in 2009, The Foundry Company would have the capability to produce those 40nm parts.
Depite the lack of hardware news, Bergman said ATI would have an early present for its users; in December, the company expects to release a free GPU-based encoder that runs on modern Radeon cards. Based on the company’s new Stream API, the Avivo Video Encoder uses the parallel processing power of the GPU to transcode or encode video. Similar functionality has been available for Nvidia products under its CUDA API for months but the encoder is not free and published by Elemental Technologies.
Bergman also said that Avivo Video Encoder with a mid-range Radeon HD 4870 card will actually outperform Nvidia’s top-end GeForce GTX280 card in encoding tasks using Elemental’s Badaboom Media Converter. ATI’s Free Avivo Video Encoder will run on any 4000-series Radeon HD card.
Nividia today announced its Quadro FX 5800 videocard calling it "the most powerful professional graphics card in graphics history." To help justify such a big claim, Nvidia slapped a big 4GB frame buffer on the new videocard, more than any other videocard to date.
"The size and complexity of data is growing at an exponential rate," said Jeff Brown, general manager, Professional Solutions, Nvidia. "The challenge for today's professional is to make sense of the mountain of data by distilling it into a form they can comprehend, analyze, and use to make impactful decisions. At stake can be billions of investment dollars, or even people's lives. The Quadro FX 5800 has advanced features to allow massive datasets to be viewed beyond traditional 3D enabling professionals to make fast and accurate decisions."
Nvidia says its new videocard is a perfect match for oil and gas exploration, medical imaging, styling and design, and scientific visualization, all of which can benefit from the large amount of memory and up to 240 CUDA programmable parallel core. Other specs include a memory bandwidth of up to 102 GB/s, a fill rate claimed to exceed 52 billion texels per second, and geometry performance of 300 million triangles per second. The Quadro FX 5800 also boasts true 10-bit color, giving it the ability to enable billions of color variations instead of millions, according to Nvidia.
The Quadro FX 5800 is available now with an MSRP set at $3500. But if it helps, think of it as less than $1000 per GB of memory.
Will the real Nvidia please stand up? Getting a read on the graphics chip maker is turning out to be nigh impossible. On one hand, Nivida has been hammered over a mobile graphics manufacturing defect that led to an "abnormal failure rate," much negative press, and questions about how widespread the problem might actually be. Then the tide changed as Apple announced it would be outfitting its refreshed MacBook line with Nvidia's 9400M GPU instead of Intel silicon. Is the company poised to fall or on the rebound?
Looking over Nvidia's financial report appears to raise even more questions than answers. For the three months that ended October 26, the company's profits have plummeted 74 percent to $61.7 million, down from $235.7 million one year earlier. But despite the free fall, earnings per share sat at 20 cents, or almost twice as much as the average estimate of 11 cents projected by First Call.
In terms of market share, Nvidia acknowledges losing ground to AMD's ATI unit, but also believes its on the verge of an upswing.
"We were caught flat footed at 65nm and our chip and board solution was just too expensive," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia. "We've made that transition (to 55nm) in Q2. And in Q3 we're through that transition and we're off and running."
Which direction the company is running towards, however, is anyone's guess.
Who says thin is in? Not Palit, who has just introduced a massive three-slot graphics card based on AMD's dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Dubbed the Revolution 700 Deluxe, the new card owes its wide load to a giant heatsink consisting of a two-fan cooling solution outfitted with heatpipes and a plethora of connection options.
The Revolution 700 Deluxe comes equipped with DisplayPort, HDMI, Dual-Link DVI, and D-Sub (VGA) connections, so while you might have to worry about how you're going to cram this card inside your case, you at least won't face any problems connecting it to nearly any type of display.
Other specs include 2GB of GDDR5 slightly overclocked at 3800MHz (compared to 3600MHz reference), 750MHz core clockspeed, DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support, and a 512-bit memory interface resulting in 2.4 teraFLOPS of graphics horsepower.
No price has yet been set for the mammoth videocard, but according to TGDaily, Palit spokesman Darren Polkowski said it sell in a similar price range as other 4870 X2 cards.
Is three slots too much? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
The mobile gaming sector continues to play leapfrog as each manufacturer attempts to jump to the head of the pack. Gateway wowed us with its surprisingly affordable P-7811FX crammed full of high end parts, and more recently, Alienware's new M17 gave users a double-dose of performance with dual-3870 videocards and up to 1TB of storage space in a RAID configuration. Now it's Toshiba's turn to tantalize would-be notebook buyers, and it looks to do that by introducing the world's first laptops with THREE Nvidia GPUs packed inside.
To clarify, Toshiba isn't planning a line of tri-SLI enabled laptops, and instead will take advantage of Nvidia's Hybrid SLI technology. The Qosmio X305-Q708 and X305-Q706 will be the first two units outfitted with three GPUs, which will consist of a GeForce 9400M and two 9800M GTS GPUs. When not fragging foes, gamers can switch to the 9400M GPU while the other two GPUs power down, resulting in a quieter notebook with presumably longer battery life.
For $4,200, the X305-Q708 also brings an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 CPU to the table along with a 17" 1680x1050 display, 4GB of RAM, 320GB SATA drive, a second 128GB SSD, DVD burner, a 1.3MP webcam with face recognition, HDMI and DisplayPort connections, and Harmon Kardon speakers. At less than half the price ($2,000), the X305-706 drops down to an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU and drops the SSD drive.
The X305-Q708 and X305-Q706 are available now from ToshibaDirect.
The mini-ITX form factor is still alive and kicking, and to prove it, Zotac has just expanded its mini-ITX lineup with the nForce 630i-ITX WiFi motherboard. As the board's nomenclature suggests, WiFi comes integrated with 802.11b/g support, as does graphics chores, which are handled by Nvidia's GeForce 7100 chipset.
The pint-sized board comes ready for Intel's lineup of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors with support for a full 1333MHz frontside bus. RAM support, on the other hand, comes somewhat gimped topping out at DDR2-800 instead of DDR2-1066 or DDR3. Other features include:
Eight USB 2.0 ports (four on back panel, four on pin header)
Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
HD Audio 5.1
Dual display ready (VGA / DVI)
Four SATA II ports with RAID Support
Not a bad feature-set for a compact board, particularly if you're in the market for an HTPC build, where the integrated WiFi could end up a major selling point.