Just how awesome is Intel's Core i7 architecture? According to Intel, Core i7 processors pack enough punch to supplant some of the graphics chores typically handled by GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.
"Learn how to easily add real-time 3D smoke, fog and other fluid simulations to your game without using up the GPU," Intel pitches to potential attendees on a webpage titled Intel at Game Developers Conference. "In this session, we will present the source code to a fluid simulator optimized for multi-core CPUs."
According to Tom R. Halfhill, an analyst at the Microprocessor Report and Maximum PC columnist, Intel might be seeking ways to make better use of its quad-core processors, though Halfhill said "I need to be convinced that a CPU can do those 3D effects better than a GPU can."
Dedicated graphics processors are typically better suited for high-end effects, but Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research (JPR) says there are exceptions. "Not all algorithms and processes map well to a GPU. You have to have a problem that is naturally parallel, and except for the rendering of, say, a water surface and subsurface and reflections, the wave motion equations will just fine on a CPU."
Maybe now you have that excuse you've been looking for to justify a quad-core upgrade.
According to statistics collected by Jon Peddie Research (JPR), GPU shipment numbers for Q4 2008 were just 72.35 million units. That represents a significant drop off from one year prior when GPU makers shipped 100.5 million units, and an even bigger drop from Q3 2008, which shipped 111.26 million GPUs.
All graphics vendors felt the pinch, but ATI appears to have been hit a little bit harder, giving up some market share to Nvidia. As of Q4 2008, Nvidia held a 31 percent share compared to ATI's 19 percent. Intel still bested them both with a leading 48 percent share of the market.
"The fourth quarter is usually a positive quarter for the computer industry," Dr. Jon Peddie said in a statement. "There has obviously been some inventory problems in the quarter as sales failed to live up to the optimistic expectations of the third quarter, 2008. Vendors were bracing for a slower than usual quarter due to economic factors, but performance this quarter was surprisingly low. Put simply, the market stalled in the fourth quarter."
Peddie noted a strong forecast for the second half of 2009, but cautioned that it would come after the worst Q1 and Q2 decline since 2000, DailyTech reports.
Nvidia has officially released its Forceware 181.22 WHQL GeForce driver suite just under a week since making the drivers available as beta downloads. The graphics chip maker recommends upgrading to the latest release "for the best GPU PhysX experience in EA's hot PC title Mirror's Edge." Forceware 181.22 WHQL installs the new PhysX system software, now in version 9.09.0010.
Also included with the new driver release is support for Nvidia's latest GPUs, the GTX 295 and GTX 285. Nvidia also claims modest to significant performance boosts in select titles, such as up to 80 percent in Lost Planet: Colonies, up to 38 percent in Far Cry 2, and up to 25 percent in Devil May Cry 4. Several other titles are said to run anywhere from 10 to 18 percent better with the latest Forceware driver.
Qualcomm has bought AMD’s handset division for $65 million. AMD has disposed of the handset business to exclusively focus on its fundamental businesses. The handset business has only spewed losses and caused despair ever since it fell into AMD’s lap as part of its 2006 acquisition of ATI.
Qualcomm has agreed to retain some of the existing employees involved in the handset division, although the exact figure hasn’t been revealed. Qualcomm will use the technology, which has changed hands as part of the deal, to develop more advanced graphics and audio solutions for mobile devices.
The global economy currently has a nimiety of bad news, which seems to be coming from all corners at a cataclysmic speed. Just a week after Intel revised its fourth-quarter guidance downwards, Nvidia has also followed suit. The company has lowered its fourth-quarter revenue guidance and now expects revenues to decline by 40 percent to 50 percent compared to the third quarter.
Just like other major chip manufacturers, including Intel, Nvidia also lays the blame on plummeting demand. It also blames “inventory reductions by Nvidia's channel partners in the global PC supply chain.” Nvidia will post its fourth-quarter results on February 10th.
Chinese news and review site ExPreview.com claims to have the skinny on Nvidia's upcoming GT212 GPU, which is being positioned to replace the company's GT200 series (GTX260/280). The site says Nvidia's 40nm GT212 will ship with 384 stream processors, up from 240 on the GT200. Texture mapping units (TMUs) will also be bumped up from 80 to 96 on the new part.
Interestingly, ExPreview says Nvidia will slash the memory bus interface from 512-bit to 256-bit, which the GPU maker plans to offset by using GDDR5 memory running at a higher frequency. The GT212 will also come with 1.8 billion transistors, compared to the 1.4 billion found on the GT200, ExPreview says. And with a die area measuring 300mm^2, the site expects power consumption will be "reduced greatly."
Stay tuned, as more information on Nvidia's upcoming flagship GPU will likely be forthcoming during this year's CES.
For those of you using RivaTuner to overclock your Nvidia or ATI videocard, a new version has just been made available. RivaTuner v2.22 includes "a huge number of new stuff to keep you busy," as well as a fully redesigned interface.
The new version squashes a handful of bugs, including a bug in LM63.dll plugin, which caused empty graphs with no data to be displayed in hardware monitoring. Multifunction PCI devices are no longer detected as mutli-GPU devices, and version 2.22 also addresses the pipeline count detection code for Nvidia G98-based GPUs, according to the release notes.
On the feature side, RivaTuner 2.22 brings to the table improved customization features, including the ability for bundling partners to customize the product and system tray icons. Other goodies include simplified beginner oriented profile settings, a better help system, the addition of an on-screen display preview window, improved handling of user profiles, and more.
Read the full list of changes here, and then download RivaTuner 2.22 here.
News and review site VR-Zone claims to have seen documents outlining Nvidia's plan to move to a 40nm process technology on its entire lineup of upcoming videcards starting in Q9 2009. On the high-end side, that includes the GT212 GPU, expected to debut in Q2 and replace the 55nm GT200, meaning a relatively short lifespan for the not yet released GTX285 and GTX295 videocards.
On the mainstream level, both VR-Zone and DigiTimes are reporting the launch of 40nm-based GT214 and GT216 GPUs in Q3 2009, which will replace the current G94 and G96 chips. Fleshing out the lineup will be four desktop SKUs for the GT216 and six desktop SKUs for the GT218, presumably representing different clockspeed and memory configurations.
Looking at the entry level, Nvidia's 40nm GT218 will supplant the company's G98 GPU, also in Q3 2009. Meanwhile, Nvidia's IGP line will see the launch of the iGT209, which is set to replace the GeForce 9300 and 9400 motherboard GPU series.
It looks as though Nvidia will finally find its way into netbooks, and without using any strong arm tactics. The graphics chip maker announced plans to pair its GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor in a new netbook dubbed Ion.
Nvidia's 9400M GPU is the same one Apple chose to use in its refreshed MacBook line. From a performance standpoint, Nvidia says its 9400M offers 5x faster graphics and 10x faster video transcoding than a typical Atom-powered netbook, and is capable of playing full-spec 1080p high definition video. Nvidia also claims you'll be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, such as Call of Duty 4.
"NVIDIA's Ion Platform transforms Atom-based PCs into capable mainstream gaming platforms," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. "Epic is excited about the growth potential offered by these new affordable premium PCs."
In addition to gaming and high definition content, Ion will be capable of handling Vista's full user interface, as well as Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7.
Look for the new graphically supercharged netbooks to appear midway through 2009 "within $50" of standard netbook pricing, Gizmodo reports.
Citing those always un-named sources (this time at graphics card makers), DigiTimes reports Nvidia will launch its next generation GT 300 GPU, a high end gaming chip, in the first quarter of 2009. The new part will be manufactured on a 55nm process, just as the company is also planning a 55nm refresh of its GTX 260 videocard.
DigiTimes also says Nvidia will show off a pair of new GT 200 videocards at CES next month. First on tap will be the GTX 295, which will consist of two 55nm GT 200 GPUs. The graphics card maker also plans to show its GTX 285, which will ship with a single GT 200 GPU. Core frequencies for both cards are expected to run 10 to 15 percent faster than existing Nvidia videocards, while also consuming 10 to 15 percent less power.