There's a new version of MSI's Afterburner graphics card overclocking software available for download, version 2.1.0. New to this version is support for the latest Nvidia GeForce 500 and AMD Radeon HD 6000 series of videocards, as well as a new "Predator" in-game video capture function. Why it's called Predator is anyone's guess, but nomenclature aside, you can now use MSI's overclocking utility to capture awesome game sequences and upload them to YouTube.
Playing with beta drivers comes with certain risks -- like instability -- but can also be rewarding in not always obvious ways. Those who went and snagged Nvidia's 266.7x beta driver for GeForce videocards, for example, uncovered a couple of interesting lines that seem to indicate Nvidia is on the verge of releasing at least two new graphics cards, including a dual-GPU model. More details after the jump.
AMD this week shoveled out its new Catalyst 11.2 software suite with support for Radeon HD 2400 series on up to the HD 6900 series of desktop and mobiltiy GPUs. It also supports several FireStream products (9170, 9250, 9270, 9350) and AMD chipset product families (300 series on up to HD 4290). Catalyst 11.2 is a more fleshed out driver update than usual with a handful of new features a whole bunch of bug fixes.
Wait a minute, didn't AMD take the ATI brand behind the shed and give it the Old Yeller treatment? Sort of. Barring a special edition throwback or a mulligan of sorts, you won't ever see a new graphics card in the home desktop market carrying an ATI label, but AMD is still using it for some of its professional cards, including the ATI FirePro V5800 DVI, one of two new graphics cards geared for the workplace (the other being the AMD FirePro 2270).
"Because of their superior power consumption and multi-dispaly capabilities, solutions based on the AMD FirePro 2270 and ATI FirePro V4800 DVI deliver strong value for financial, medical, and corporate workstation environments," said Janet Matsuda, general manager, AMD Professional Graphics. "With the AMD FirePro family, we continue to demonstrate our focus on enhancing productivity through an enhanced visual experience."
The AMD FirePro 2270 ( $150) is AMD's only low-profile, passively cooled, dual-display, triple set support solution graphics card, while the ATI FirePro V5800 DVI ($470) boasts added muscle to drive two high-resolution dual-link DVI displays. Both cards are available now.
It was a disappointing fourth quarter for graphics chip makers as overall shipments failed to meet expectations, according to Jon Peddie Research. Year-on-year growth was "an unimpressive 4.3 percent," which JPR pegged as a major bummer considering the graphics market came blazing through the gates at the beginning of the year.
Thanks to the integrated graphics business, Intel once again led the charge by claiming a 52.5 percent market share, up 2.9 percent on year. It was a close race for second place, with AMD edging ahead of Nvidia with a 24.2 percent share compared to 22.5 share. Perhaps more importantly, AMD's market share rose 11.2 percent on year, while Nvidia slid 15.1 percent.
JPR acknowledged that the tablet market, and specifically Apple's iPad, might ultimately be the reason why graphics chip sales didn't meet expectations, noting that the iPad "has cut into low end PC sales."
AMD sent out a press release detailing its upcoming Catalyst Hotfix 11.a drivers, which the company promises will bring increased performance and "a slew of new features." As it pertains to the new Radeon HD 6900 and 6800 series of cards, some of the highlights include:
3DMark Vantage: 7 percent improvement
3DMark05: 3 percent improvement
Call of Duty: Black Ops: 20 percent improvement at 4xMSAA, up to 35 percent at 8xMSAA
Batman Arkham Aslyum: 4 percent improvement
Metro 2033: 28 percent improvement at 4xMSAA
AMD says the hotfix also provides some new tessellation controls with the goal of giving users full control over the tessellation levels used in applications.
According to HardOCP, the new drivers will be publicly available on January 26th.
Nvidia graphics card owners have the option of updating to the newly released GeForce 266.58 WHQL drivers, which add support for the newly released GTX 580 and 570 GPUs.
The latest drivers bring quite a bit to the table, including up to double-digit performance gains in some games (up to 12 percent in Battleforge when running a pair of GTX 580 videocards, for example) and support for ambient occlusion in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Nvidia administered a heavy dose of 3D medicine to the 266.58 drivers, adding support for a bunch of new 3D Vision projectors, all-in-one PCs, DLP HDTVs, and desktop LCD monitors.
Eurocom says its new Racer laptop is "the most powerful 15-inch notebook on the planet," a claim which hinges on how you opt to configure it.
It certainly doesn't hurt that the Racer is built around Intel's new Sandy Bridge platform, but the real treat for gamers is that "the Eurocom Racer will support up to a 100W GPU which will allow it to run up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 485M, AMD Radeon Mobility HD 6970M, or Nvidia Quadro FX 3800M graphics solution," the OEM says.
Other configuration options include up to 32GB of DDR3-1333/1600MHz RAM (four RAM slots), two drive bays with support for up to 1.75TB of storage, a 9-in-1 memory card reader, a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, HDMI out, Firewire, audio jacks, Wireless-N, and a 1920x1080 resolution on the Racer's 15.6-inch backlit LED display.
The Eurocom Racer will start shipping on February 1, 2011. No word yet on price.
Nvidia designs graphics processors and TSMC manufactures them. Between the two, they've managed to ship a billion GeForce graphics chips, an impressive milestone that took less than 12 years to reach, the two companies said in a joint statement.
"Since inventing the GPU more than a decade ago, Nvidia has driven innovation in these processors at a rate virtually unmatched in the technology industry," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive office, Nvidia. "With our close partnership with TSMC, the complexity of these devices has increased more than 1,000 times, enabling enormous progress in computers ranging from handhelds and PCs to workstations and data centers."
Nvidia is what's referred to as a fabless company, meaning they don't own any chip fabrication plants. Like other fabless companies, Nvidia contracts manufacturing through one or more foundries -- in this case, TSMC -- as opposed to companies like Intel, which both designs and builds its own chips.
The fastest single videocard on the planet belongs to AMD, but that's only because the HD 5970 sports a pair of GPUs under the hood. Nvidia, meanwhile, owns the single-GPU performance crown with its GTX 580 videocard, but it may soon steal the overall performance crown from AMD, too.
According to Tech Report, EVGA is all too happy to show off Nvidia's next dual-GPU monster, though the company isn't willing to give many specifics. As an exclusive Nvidia partner, we suspect what you're seeing is a dual-GPU GeForce 500 series card -- probably a GTX 595 -- equipped with two GF110 GPUs.
From the pictures, we can see there's at least 1GB of memory (and probably much more), three DVI outputs, and a pair of eight-pin power connectors. Cooling is provided by a custom heatsink with three fans.