As the economy struggles to regain its footing, so too does the PC industry. The latest casualty to the bottom line hits the graphics market, which recorded anemic sales of graphics chips in 2009, the worst year ever, according to Jon Peddie Research.
Even scarier, Peddie says that graphics chip shipments are a leading market indicator since a big portion of chip sales goes to original design manufacturers (ODMs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
But it's not all gloom and doom. Peddie also said the worst is probably over, noting signs of a recovery in the third quarter are likely to appear. Moreover, Q3 will mark the beginning of major architectural changes and products from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD/ATI as each one continues to develop GPGPU products.
MSI this week announced the R4890 Cyclone series graphics card. Like other HD 4890 videocards, the Cyclone comes equipped with 800 stream processors and 1GB of GDDR5 with a 256-bit memory bus, but what separates this card from the pack is its cooling solution.
According to MSI, the Cyclone is the only HD 4890 to sport a 10cm PWM fan. The cooling solution also packs four 8mm heatpipes, which the company says is 60 percent thicker than traditional heatpipes and offers up to 90 percent better cooling efficiency. The end result is a 1GHz core clockspeed, making the Cyclone the fastest clocked HD 4890 yet.
Taking the marketing blitz to another level, MSI boasts "Military Class Components." These include Hi-c capacitors made of Tantalum, an all-in-one solid chock, and all solid caps.
Without any press releases that we could find, Nvidia has launched a pair of low-level graphics cards, both of which are being aimed at the OEM market.
The first is the GT220, a half-height card with 48 processor cores chugging along at 615MHz (GPU) with 1GB of GDDR3 memory running a 790MHz on a 128-bit memory interface. That adds up to 25.3GB/s of memory bandwidth. For what it's worth, the OEM card also boasts support for DirectX 10.1.
Also launched is the G210, another half-height OEM card sporting DirectX 10.1 support. As you might have surmised from the number scheme, the G210 checks in with lower specs than the GT220. Specifically, 16 processor cores with the GPU clocked at 589MHz, and 512MB of DDR2 memory clocked at 500MHz on a 64-bit bus. The lower clocks and bus chops the memory bandwidth down to 8GB/s.
No word on price or which OEMs are expected to carry the new cards.
Some recent reports have suggested that Nvidia is planning to launch their new 40nm GeForce GT 220 and GeForce G210 GPUs at the end of September.
Until now, Nvidia has had to delay the launch of their 40nm GPUs due to low yield rates from TSMC. But, recently the rate has improved a great deal, allowing Nvidia to schedule a launch before the end of the year and most importantly – in time for the holidays!
Think your dual-GPU GTX 295 videocard is anything to write home about? It's still the king of desktop videocards, but it does't come anywhere close to offering 800 teraflops of processing power. That's the amount a Japanese company has to work with, which has mashed together nine 73-core chips into a single system. And as daunting as that may sound, it fits inside a typical ATX desktop setup.
Before anyone asks, the answer is 'no,' it won't run Crysis. Not because it can't, but because it's not aimed at gaming. Those 800 TFLOPs of number crunching provide real-time ray traced rendering and is being aimed at automotive design.
As for how the 45nm super GPU works, Arstechnia has put together a fantastic article describing all the gritty details, includng the complex bus directing all that traffic.
Give it a glance here, then hit the jump and tell us what you'd like to use this kind of GPU computing power for (Folding, anyone?).
If this is the first time you've heard of VirtualBox, there's a good chance it won't be your last. The open-source virtual machine software, now owned by Sun, is giving the likes of VMWare Workstation a run for its money, and with the release of VirtualBox 3, the VM now supports experimental 3D graphics.
Not entirely new, developers have been slowly adding support for accelerated 3D graphics, and with the latest release, it's possible to run Direct3D 8 and 9 games or applications. That's in addition to OpenGL support.
Other new features and fixes include a revamped settings dialog, the addition of a minimalistic toolbar for seamless and full-screen mode, Windows 7 Remote Desktop Protocol client support, fixed TX checksum offloading for Linux kernal 2.16.8 or higher, fixed USB dongles issues, and lots more.
Nvidia isn't saying much about its next Ion platform, but if recent rumors turn out to be true, the followup platform looks to be a doozie. According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, Nvidia will double up the number of shaders on the second generation of Ion.
That means Ion 2, as it will likely be called, would ship with at least 32 shaders, providing a big boost to gaming performance on netbooks and nettops built around the platform. And best of all, thermals aren't expected to rise very much, if at all, on the upcoming shrunken version of Ion.
Nvidia's first Ion has yet to really penetrate the market and cut into Intel's Atom platform marketshare, but that could change as more major manufacturers jump on board. Samsung recently announced plans to launch an Ion netbook this month, and Lenovo's Ion-based IdeaPad S12 is due out in August.
Nevertheless, Fudzilla says Ion 2 should launch by the end of this year.
At long last, Nvidia may finally adding DirectX 10.1 support to its videocards, assuming Fudzilla is right on the money. According to the news and rumor site, Nvidia's GT200 will be refreshed to a 40nm manufacturing process and the new chips will sport DX10.1.
To date, ATI has been the only one to offer DX10.1 support on some of its videocards (yes, we're completely ignoring S3's Chrome series), a minor extension to DX10 that thus far hasn't meant much for gamers. To to fuel the conspiracy flames, that could change with Nvidia jumping on board. Remember that DX10.1 instructions did at one point show a performance boost on ATI cards in Assassin's Creed, but after a patch removed support for the instruction set, some accused Ubisoft of bowing to pressure from Nvidia after the GPU maker sponsored the title with its The Way It's Meant To Be Played program.
In any event, it looks like refresh will come on the tail end of summer or early fall.
Nvidia this week released new WHQL videocard drivers, now in version 186.18. A handful of bugs have been squashed in this newest update, most of which relate to Windows 7. Some of the resolved issues include:
Resolves issue where PhysX option would be disabled by default in multi-GPU configurations (XP)
Resolves issue where the system would not resume from Standby mode when running a 9800 GX2 (Vista and Windows 7)
Changes made to program settings from the Nvidia Control Panel in 3D Settings are now preserved after closing and reopening when running a 9500 GS (Windows 7)
SLI focus display can now be switched using "Set SLI configuration" for GTX 260 owners (Windows 7)
Not a whole lot has been done to improve performance if you're upgrading from a previous 186.xx or 185.xx driver release. However, if you're upgrading from 182.xx, Nvidia claims double digit performance boosts in a number of titles, including up to 45 percent in Mirror's Edge with antialiasing enabled, 30 percent better performance in Half-Life 2 engine games with tri- and quad-SLI enabled, and a 25 percent boost in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
PowerColor this week announced a new series of videocards it says are "environmentally friendly and cost efficient to the consumer." Kicking off the new Go! Green series is a pair of ATI cards - the HD 4650 and HD 4350.
Both cards come equipped with PowerColor's custom Silent Cooling Solution (SCS) passive heatsink, with the HD 4650 version adding heatpipes to the mix (SCS3). Partially as a result, PowerColor claims its HD 4650 consumes 38 percent less power than an Nvidia GeForce 9500GT videocard, while the HD 4350 boasts a 24 percent power savings over the Nvidia GeForce 8400GS. Likewise, the HD 4650 and HD 4350 offer up to 22 percent and 36 percent better performance than each one's respective Nvidia equivalent, PowerColor claims.
Availability is expected in July, but no word yet on price.