Do you know the difference between a 9800 GTX and GTX+? How about an 8800 GTS 1st and 2nd generation? Well if you’re confused don’t worry, your not alone. Now finally after many years of dazzling and confusing customers, Nvidia is looking to make some permanent changes to help deal with the dizzying array of identifiers. The company is hoping that by years end it will have better control over card’s surnames in an attempt to give users a clear idea of the performance they can expect. Using this approach the GTX term would be reserved for the highest-end gaming cards with GS and GT being reserved for mainstream boards. Last but not least, gamers on a budget will be able to choose from a clearly labeled G series. This is clearly a follow up to the Radeon’s addition of the HD line and with any luck will help users figure out what kind of performance they can expect from a given card without scouring the web for comparisons. Rumor has it the 9400 GT will also be rebranded as the G100, and the 9500 GT through 9800 GT will become the GT120 to GT150 series.
I think you’ll agree these changes are long overdue.
There’s no secret that GPUs have some extreme muscle behind them, and a team of researchers at Michigan Technological University are harnessing this power to better understand the most complicated of real-life systems.
The project, lead by Roshan D’Souza is supercharging agent-based modeling, a powerful and computationally massive forecasting technique, with the goal of modeling complex biological systems such as the human immune response to the tuberculosis bacterium.
Mikola Lysenko, the computer science student that wrote the software demonstrated the ability of the program. A demo showing an impressive swarm of bright green immune cells surrounding and containing yellow tuberculosis bacterium was the product of millions of real-time calculations. D’Souza claims “I've been asked if we ran this on a supercomputer or if it's a movie.”
D’Souza’s only real concern is being able to do more with the technology, “We can do it much bigger,” he says. He hopes to model how a tuberculosis bacterium infection could spread from the lung to a patient’s lymphatic system, blood and vital organs.
Agent-based modeling is something that will be used to revolutionize medical research. Dr. Gary An, a surgeon specializing in trauma and critical care at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is pioneering its use. He’s doing so by modeling another matter of life and death, sepsis. These infections, which consist of billions of agents (including cells and bacteria), have had too complex of a model to map – until now.
While admittedly most of us will need our own supercomputer to decipher the medical jargon used to simply describe the actions of the GPU powered agent-based modeling, there’s no doubt that the results will be astonishing. And it appears that they’re not the only ones taking advantage of this supreme power.
Earlier this week, it came to light that Diamond Multimedia had shipped some defective videocards, and one rumor estimated the number of bad parts might be as high as 20,000, but Diamond Multimedia claims that number is greatly exaggerated. In fact, Bruce Zaman, a spokesman for Diamond Multimedia, said that only 188 videocards based on ATI's Radeon 3800 series were found to be faulty, and that the problem, which stemmed from inappropriate resistors, has been resolved.
So where did the estimate of 20,000 bad parts come from? Diamond Multimedia claims it was the result of false information being spread by one of its former employees who became intent on creating bad publicity for the company, and that the ex-employee in question was a former engineer among those responsible for the bad parts to begin with.
“The source of this article, after agreeing in writing and verbally to not denigrate their employment with Diamond or divulge any company data or proprietary information such as sources, customers and internal procedures did exactly that,” Mr. Zaman stated."
Whatever the real number of bad parts, it appears Alienware has jumped ship for good. This too holds a conspiracy theory twist, as Zaman claims Alienware's decision to end its relationship was because the company received "tainted data from [its] engineer," and that Alienware was further put off by the time it took the engineer to fix the problem.
S3 Graphics, now a joint venture with VIA Technologies, will look to capitalize on the mini-notebook frenzy with a triple play of low wattage videocards under its Chrome 400 Ultra Low Power (ULP) mobile GPU series. The Chrome 430 ULP, 435 ULP, and 440 ULP all support DirectX 10.1, potentially making them competitive alternatives to ATI's line of GPUs. The company's ChromotionHD technology also comes as part of the package, allowing for high definition playback without stressing the CPU. S3 also says its new GPUs will process sophisticated algorithms and power control mechanisms to extend battery life.
On the lowest end, the 430 ULP sips less than 7 watts. While specifics weren't given for the two higher models, S3 claims the 435 ULP and 440 ULP will outperform competitor products by over 40 and 60 percent respectively.
S3 says its mobile graphics are available now, but didn't mention any notebook OEM customers other than Fujitsu.
The timing couldn't be worse on this one for ATI, who has crawled its way back into contention with Nvidia's best silicon, and received a further consumer boost while enthusiasts remain weary over Nvidia's GPU problems. Now the rumor mill is spinning in ATI's direction, and citing "industry sources," TG Daily says that Diamond Multimedia have have shipped upwards of 20,000 defective HD 3800 series videocards. That's a lot of GPUS.
But it gets even worse. According to the rumor, Diamond Multimedia knew about the problem all along but decided not to pull the faulty cards from store shelves. Allegedly all HD 3850 512MB cards shipped between January and July suffer the manufacturing defect, while a "substantial number" of HD 3870 512MB and X2 videocards also show signs of poor soldering and integrated memory problems.
The issue supposedly came to light when Alienware returned its graphics cards it had purchased from Diamond Multimedia after finding failure rates to the tune of 10 percent, or so the sources say. Seemingly giving the rumor some merit, TG Daily claims Bruce Zaman, CEO of Diamond Multimedia, confirmed that there has been an isolated issue "with one vendor."
The chipmaker claims that Fusion for Gaming can enhance a computer’s performance by up to 10%. Although it might actually prove to be handy, the chances of it being worth as much as AMD’s rhetoric suggests are slim to none. The beta is only meant for Windows Vista 32 and can be downloaded here.
Perhaps the price war with a recently competitive ATI has taken a toll on Nvidia, or maybe the ongoing mobile GPU fiasco is to blame, but whatever the reason, it will come as little consolation to the 360 employees soon to receive a pink slip. The graphics chip maker said the job cuts will take place by the end of October, which will represent a work force reduction of more than 6 percent.
"Our action today is difficult, but necessary considering current business realities," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia. "Despite our reduction, we will continue to invest in selective high-growth opportunities like our revolutionary CUDA parallel computing technology and our Tegra mobile single-chip computer"
Huang went on to say the company will take "fast action" to restore its financial performance. In the meantime, Nvidia is expected to record $7 to $10 million in restructuring related chargers, comprised of severance and other expenses.
We've said it before and we'll say it again - it's a great time to be a PC gamer. While ATI and Nvidia continue to go at each other's throats, it's the consumers who benefit with faster cards for less money than has traditionally been the case. Now the situation looks to get even better.
With a focus on the budget market, ATI's HD 4600 series looks to offer reasonable gaming performance for an even more reasonable sub-$100 price tag. The HD 4650 will carry an MSRP of just $69, which buys a 512MB frame buffer, 320 stream processing units, a core clockspeed of 600MHz, and a 500MHz memory clockspeed. Naturally with a price so low, cuts had to be made somewhere and the 4650 will sport just a 128-bit memory bus.
For $10 more, the HD 4670 carries the same specs, but faster core and memory clockspeeds of 750MHz and 1000MHz, respectively. Unfortunately for overclockers, overclocking the 4650 won't put it on par with the 4670, as the former uses GDDR2 and the latter GDDR3.
Both cards also continues ATI's focus into the living room with HTPC friendly features such as the company's Unified Video Decoder (UVD), Avivo HD technology, and support for 7.1 surround sound through HDMI.
There's been plenty of coverage surrounding Nvidia's admitted "abnormal failure rate" among what remains an unknown number of GPUs, but in case you missed it, here's the Cliff Notes version: Earlier this summer, Nvidia announced it would take a one time hit of $150-$200 million to cover warrany and repair costs associated with a bad batch of mobile GPUs. The chip maker insisted (and still does) that the failures were an isolated incident, but that's come into question. News and rumor site The Inquirer has been particularly vocal in its questioning of how widespread the problem really is, bringing up the possibility that the defective parts could be affecting both mobile and desktop parts, including G92 and G94 based GPUs.
Now that you're caught up, it's TGDaily who's bringing more speculation to the table. Referencing industry sources, the news site claims that Nvidia's future 45nm GPUs that have recently entered the qualification stage are being built with high-lead solder bumps. Earlier speculation pointed to Nvidia having made the switch to eutecic solders in reaction to the GPU failures, and if that's the case, the switch to solder bumps raises more questions than answers as to what's going on, and whether or not the problem has been solved or is ongoing.
Nvidia isn't commenting on the latest news, and it's a pretty safe bet that this won't be the last you'll hear on the matter.
If you haven't heard, ATI's HD 4870 kicks some serious gaming ass. Nvidia's received the message loud and clear, so the company's gone back to the drawing board and now plans to release a revised version of its GTX 260 videocard. The tweaked GTX 260 pushes the number of stream shaders from 192 up to 216, expected to result in a 5-10 percent performance increase. To prevent confusion in the market place with existing GTX 260s, speculation suggests the new card may carry a 'Gold' moniker.
This isn't the first time in recent memory that Nvidia has revised an existing SKU, with the company earlier this summer shrinking the 9800 GTX's core from 65nm to 55nm and boosting clockspeeds, which resulted in the 9800 GTX+. But this time around, DigiTimes reports graphics card makers are voicing concerns that the Gold release will leave them with an oversupply of original GTX 260 cards that no one wants. Whether those fears prove founded or not depends on how Nvidia plans to price the new release, which so far has not yet been announced.