According to Nvidia's Form 10-K filing for the fiscal year ended January 25, 2009, the graphics chip maker has spent $43.6 million to cover warranty and product replacement claims for GPUs suffering from a "weak die/packaging material set."
Nvidia had original set aside a one-time charge of $196 million when it was discovered some of its notebook graphics were failing at an "abnormal rate."
"The previous generation MCP and GPU products that are impacted were included in a number of notebook products that were shipped and sold in significant quantities," Nvidia said in the filing. "Certain notebook configurations of these MCP and GPU products are failing in the field at higher than normal rates. While we have not been able to determine a root cause for these failures, testing suggests a weak material set of die/package combination, system thermal management designs, and customer use patterns are contributing factors."
Given that only $43.6 million -- or 22 percent of the original amount -- has been spent so far, you can take this in one of two ways. Either the problem isn't as widespread as originally thought and the remaining $152.4 million will be more than enough to cover future claims, or there are a lot of mobile GPUs in the wild still to fail from the packaging defect.
VIA has so far failed to make an impression with its diminutive Nano processor. But the netbook market is far too alluring for it to give up. VIA has launched a new chipset called the VIA VX855 MSP, which can decode full 1080p video, in a bid to stand out from the competition.
Besides its ability to decode 1080p video the VIA VX855 MSP boasts an impressive TDP of 2.3 Watts. The chipset also supports up to eight HD audio channels with a 192 kHz sampling rate. It has all the features of a contemporary chipset’s North and South bridges wedged into a 27mm x 27mm single chip package, which according to VIA occupies 46% less space compared to “competing twin-chip core logic implementations.”
And, of course, it supports Windows 7 among other major operating systems. Finally, there is support for the VIA Nano, C7 and Eden processors at FSB speeds ranging between 400 and 800 MHz. Nvidia has confirmed that its Ion 2 platform will support VIA’s Nano processor. So VX855 will meet its true nemesis by the end of 2009 when the Ion 2 platform debuts.
Four-monitor support in a single-slot, low-profile, half-length videocard? You betcha. That's exactly what AMD's offering up with the release of its professional ATI FirePro 2450 multi-view graphics card.
"The ATI FirePro 2450 offers the reliability professionals expect and the efficiency IT departments require. IT managers want a card they can test once, deploy virtually anywhere, and count on to run reliably,” said Janet Matsuda, senior director, AMD Professional Graphics. “The low power consumption enables cool, energy-efficient operation, as well as superior reliability and longevity. The compact form factor can be deployed in nearly any system. This accelerator is perfect for customers who need more than two displays, such as in financial services and process control."
The FirePro 2450 comes equipped with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, variable speed fan sink, maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 2.1 support, native PCI-E x16 and x1, and support for up to four independent DVI or VGA monitors.
According to AMD, the new card consumes less than 18W on average for 2D business usage, and no more than 32W when fully stressed.
The ATI FirePro 2450 is available now with an MSRP of $499.
Nvidia has said on more than one occasion that it wants to simplify its product line to make it easier for consumers who might not know the difference between, say, an 8800 GTS 256MB, 8800 GTS 512MB, and 8800 GTS 640MB, and why the 512MB trumps them both. Then there's the 9800GTX+, which is a supercharged 9800 GTX, which is really a supercharged G92-based 8800 GTS, which is confusing as all get-out.
It gets better. Meet the GeForce GTS 250, the videocard formerly known as the 9800 GTX+. The rebranded videocard still uses the 55nm G92b GPU, however in a more mature yielding chip in GTS 250 trim. Available in both 512MB and 1GB configurations, the latter includes a new board design noticeably smaller than the 9800 GTX+ by about an inch and a half.
Other specs include a 738MHz core clockspeed, 1100MHz memory clockspeed, 256-bit memory interface for a 70.4 GB/s of total memory bandwidth, 16 ROPs, 64 texture filtring units, and 128 processor cores. The GTS 250 carries a TDP of 150 watts, and according to Anandtech's testing, both idle and load power consumption runs about 30W less than the 9800 GTX+.
The 512MB and 1GB versions will run $130 and $150 respectively, with widespread availability expected next week.
The official release of Windows 7 might still be several months away, but that isn't stopping Nvidia from preparing for Vista's successor with new graphics drivers aimed at Windows 7 beta users. The new drivers are available now, and Nividia promises this is just the start of a regular driver release schedule. Remember that shortly after Vista debuted, Microsoft blamed buggy Nvidia drivers for giving the OS a bad rap.
"Since its release last month, the Windows 7 Beta has been eagerly tested by hundreds of thousands of NVIDIA GeForce owners, who are excited about the many graphical improvements Microsoft has added into the upcoming operating system," said Ujesh Desai, vice president of GeForce desktop business at NVIDIA.
Nvidia says it has been working closely with Microsoft so that its new drivers will take full advantage of the additional features and functionality Windows 7 brings to the table. Kicking off with v181.71, Nvidia's graphics drivers support the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) v1.1. The drivers also support SLI on DX9, 10, and OpenGL applications, PhysX, CUDA, and Direct3D, Direct2D, and DirectWrite.
ATI today announced a pair of mobility chips -- ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4860 and HD 4830 -- built off of AMD's new 40nm manufacturing process, purportedly making them the first-ever 40nm notebook GPUs.
Both the HD 4860 and HD 4830 come with 640 stream processor, 826 million transistors, support for DirectX 10.1, dual integrated DisplayPort, HDMI with 7.1 surround sound, and are CrossFireX ready. The 128-bit HD 4860 boasts a 650MHz core clockspeed and GDDR5 memory clocked at up to 4Gbps. The HD 4830 (also 128-bit), meanwhile, ships with a core clockspeed ranging from 450MHz to 600MHz, and GDDR3 clocked between 800MHz to 900MHz.
"It's not just 40nm process technology that makes these chips so potent, they are based on the same award-winning TeraScale engine of our ATI Radeon™ HD 4800 desktop series," Rick Bergmen, senior VP and GM for AMD's graphics products group, wrote in a blog post. "Combining this gaming power with our ATI Avivo™ HD technology and Unified Video Decoder will keep all your HD content humming along at full 1080p resolution with bright colors and seamless playback on your HD display. We've also packed in our power-saving technologies like ATI PowerPlayTM, ATI PowerXpressTM, and ATI Switchable Graphics™ technologies so that you can keep gaming, watching and surfing a little longer."
Bergmen went on to say that 40nm desktop parts are "coming soon," with at least one site having already posted benchmarks of what's believed will be ATI's first 40nm-based desktop graphics release.
As for the 40nm Mobility parts, Asus is scheduled to ship laptops using the new processors in the second half of 2009.
Update 3/4/09 AMD has has posted more pictures of its new Mobility chips, along with a video showing the Mobility Radeon HD 4860 running a on a desktop system uing the MXM modules (no notebooks are currently shipping with the part).
Talk about a true desktop replacement - Asus' new W90 laptop packs enough hardware inside to leave most mainstream desktop PCs in the dust. It's also one of Asus' first notebooks to boast an 18.4-inch LCD display, and at that size, it better (and it does) support full HD with a 1920x1200 resolution.
The W90 comes with a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 processor (2.8GHz, 6MB cache, 1066MHz frontside bus) on the Intel X38 chipset, complimented with 6GB of DDR2-memory, a 320GB hard drive, and DVD burner. But it's the graphics that really makes the W90 a desktop replacement for gamers. The 11.46-pound lappy owes some of its bulk to a dual-GPU ATI 4870 X2 videocard with 1GB of video memory - sweet!
As is expected, the W90 doesn't come cheap, and is available now for $2,200 through Newegg.com. That also includes a backpack, mouse, and 12-cell battery.
ATI has been eerily quiet regarding the company's first 40nm-based graphics release, code named RV740, and instead letting rumors swirl around the web. That's okay, because review site Guru3d managed to snag a sample of an as-yet un-named RV740-based videcoard and has put it through a variety of DX9 and DX10 benchmarks.
On the hardware front, Guru3d says the new part comes equipped with 640 shaders, 32TMUs, and 16 ROPs. If this sounds familiar, it's because these are the same specs as those found on the RV770LE, only the RV740 bumps up both the core frequency from 575MHz to 650 MHz, and memory frequency from 1800MHz to 3200MHz. The wide gap in memory frequency can be attributed to the use of GDDR5, compared to RV770LE's GDDR3. But are the higher frequencies enough to make up for the smaller 128-bit memory bus on the RV740?
According to Guru3d, the answer is yes. The new card fell in between in the Radeon HD 4830 and HD 4850 in every benchmark the site published, no matter whether it was tested at 1280x1024 or 2560x1600. Not at all bad for a card that is expected to sell for under $100, however there's been no official word yet on price.
In what the company claims is a first (and as far as we can tell, they're right), Palit Microsystems has released a GeForce GTX 285 videocard outfitted with 2GB of memory. Every other GTX 285 currently ships with 1GB.
Whether or not the additional memory buffer proves a worthwhile investment remains to be seen, but it's worth noting the GTX 285 is Nvidia's fastest single-GPU solution available, second in speed only to the dual-GPU GTX 295. We've often seen graphics partners outfit lower end cards with additional memory, which is almost always of dubious value, but that isn't the case here.
Palit also lays claim to offering the first custom designed GTX 285. Deviating from the reference heatsink/fan assembly, Palit has outfitted its GTX 285 series with two PWM fans and four heat pipes.
"Conceived for two GPUs, the two PWM fans are able to provide sufficient air flow to cool GPU on the graphics quietly," Palit wrote in a press release. "The PWM fan created for both fans can adjust the fan speed depending on the GPU's temperature."
Palit also offers the GTX 285 in a more standard 1GB configuration. No word yet on pricing or availability for either model.
Nvidia showcased its bantam Ion platform during CES 2009. The Ion platform basically combines Intel’s Atom CPU with the GeForce 9400M GPU. Ion-toting netbooks are expected to be head and shoulders above today’s netbooks - that make a meal of even the simplest graphical tasks - in terms of graphics.