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.
We'd all love to run a pair of 4870 X2 videocards, but for certain workstation tasks, these gaming-centric videocards would prove inappropriate. For those who put work before play, AMD today introduced two new workstation cards, one at each end of the performance spectrum.
Taking its place on the high rung, AMD's new flagship FirePro V8700 is based on the 4800 series with 800 stream processors. The company claims the V8700 is about 40 percent faster than its previous flagship offering. The card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and sports a total bandwidth of 108.8 GB/s. Two DisplayPorts and a single dual-link DVI interface round out the feature-set.
On the lower end, the FirePro V3750 drops the stream processors down to 320 and comes with a more conservative (that's a nice way of saying 'much lower') 256MB of GDDR3, resulting in a bandwidth of 22.4 GB/s.
Both the V8700 and V3750 will be available sometime this quarter with an MSRP of $1,499 and $199 respectively.
Oops! Elsa, a supplier of Nvidia-based graphics cards, recently showed some slides during a press event outlining Nvidia's enthusiast product roadmap, one of which has been leaked and is spreading through the web. The slide appears to show Nvidia readying two new high end GPUs set to launch later this year and in Q1 '09.
The GT212 looks to replace the GTX280 on the top of the GPU food chain, with the GT206 replacing the GTX260. What's interesting about the new cards is that the naming schemes would appear to position them below the cards each one is replacing, but the leaked slide clearly shows both higher up on the performance scale. Speculation suggests the new cards will likely see a die shrink
The slide also shows another 9800GTX+ (HDV version) to be released this quarter, but like the others, specifics so far remain scarce.
It looks as though 8M-series notebook owners aren't the only ones feeling slighted by Nvidia, who in the past several month has taken a PR hit due to an "abnormal failure rate" in what the company still claims is a limited batch of notebook GPUs. Media reports have questioned exactly how limited the problem remains, and there's even speculation that the faulty parts may apply to both the newer 9M-series of GPUs and desktop parts as well.
Now Nvidia must fight a new battle, this one in court. The graphics company has been hit with a securities fraud class action lawsuit, which covers all investors who purchased or otherwise acquired common stock of Nvidia between November 8, 2007, and July 2, 2008.
The complaint alleges Nvidia violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, accusing the company of making a series of misrepresentations and omissions that actively concealed and failed to disclose the unusually high failure rates of its mobile GPUs, along with the impact the supposed defects would have on Nvidia's financial condition. Nvidia in July announced it would take a one-time hit of $150 to $200 million to cover warranty and repair costs associated with the failures, and the company's stock tumbled downwards in after-hours trading following the announcement.
If rumors prove correct, AMD plans to keep busy this month. The company is said to be adding to its ATI HD 4000 lineup with a pair of mid-range HD 4600 series videocards, and an entry level 4500 series GPU.
According to reports, the HD 4650 will be based on ATI's RV730 core with 512MB GDDR2 memory. On the slightly higher end, the HD 4670 will come in two flavors, one sporting 512MB of GDDR3 and one with 1GB of GDDR3. Pricing for the new cards are expected to be between $70 to $90.
On the lower end, the HD 4550 will make a debut in late September with a price tag between $45 to $55. A 256MB version will cost $15 less, and in mid-October, the HD 4350 with 256MB of GDDR2 memory will complete AMD's flurry of new low and mid-range videocards.