Zune zealots, skeptics, and all the people that lie in between and outside the two groups can get up close and personal with the Zune HD at select Best Buys over the weekend. The preview has been organized by Nvidia and Best Buy. The GPU maker’s ebullience for the Zune HD stems from the fact that it has lent its Tegra chip to the PMP. The portable media player is scheduled for release on September 15. Nvidia has released a PDF document that lists all the Best Buys where the Zune HD will be available for preview.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Asus plans to keep busy this fall launching a number of new products. Among them are an Nvidia Ion-based Eee Box, Eee Top all-in-one PC, and two ultra-thin notebooks under its U/UX series.
The 20-inch Eee Top will come with an Intel dual-core Atom 330 processor and cost around $670. Details on the Ion-based rig remain sparse, though it will reportedly sell for a little over $300. Both of these -- along with the ultra-thin notebooks -- will launch in September.
A month later, Asus plans to launch the Eee Keyboard for somewhere between $400 and $500. The Eee Keyboard will work as a fully-functional PC and sport a wireless connection hub.
If you've waited this long to upgrade your graphics card, you might as well finish off the summer with whatever GPU you've been getting by with. That's because both AMD and Nvidia plan to release new videocards this fall..
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Nvidia's upcoming 40nm GeForce 210 (GT218) GPU-based cards will start shipping in October thanks to improved yields at foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing company (TSMC).
Detailed specs remain light, but the GeForce 210 will come with either DDR2 or DDR3 memory and offer up support for DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1, sources say. Nvidia will follow up the GT218 launch with GT230 and GT300 parts in the fourth quarter of this year.
As for AMD, the CPU/GPU maker will finally launch its RV870 GPU this fall, possibly as early as September.
You can finally find Nvidia's dual-GPU GTX 295 videocards in stock at pretty much any e-tailer who carries the part, but if you've waited this long, you might want to consider holding out a few more months. According to the latest rumblings, Nvidia plans to replace the flagship part with a dual GT300 card.
News and rumor site Fudzilla claims to have confirmed the rumor, but other details, including exactly when it will ship, remain sparse. If all goes to plan, Nvidia might have a demo ready in late Q4 2009 and start shipping in January 2010, but that remains to be seen.
The new card will apparently be DirectX 11 compatible and built to run parallel processing CUDA, DirectX compute, or OpenCL. It will also go toe-to-toe with AMD's upcoming dual RV870 card.
Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney is on record as being stanchly against GPGPU computing in the past, but in a recent keynote delivered at the High Performance Graphics conference he further downplayed its future. From a developer standpoint he claims that GPGPU based applications can cost nearly 10x as much as a single threaded versions, with multi-core based software being the current sweet spot.
This isn’t the first time Sweeney has predicted the demise of GPGPU based computing technologies, but he has now further expanded his list of endangered technologies to include DirectX and OpenGL. In his speech last year Sweeny claimed that “In the next generation we’ll write 100-percent of our rendering code in a real programming language--not DirectX, not OpenGL, but a language like C++ or CUDA. Whether that runs on Nvidia hardware, Intel hardware or ATI hardware is really an independent question. You could potentially run it on any hardware that's capable of running general-purpose code efficiently."
Some might consider Sweeny’s comments a bit misguided considering that both Apple and Microsoft are strongly backing OpenCL, and ultimately if it turns out to be a more efficient way of doing certain tasks, couldn’t the development costs be justified? Clearly the GPU has future potential in the transcoding market, but do you think Sweeney has a point here?
DirectX 11 which will debut with the release of Windows 7 is arguably a pretty big deal. The new APIs will enjoy a much larger installed base than its predecessor thanks to backwards compatibility with Vista, and graphical improvements that were teased in DirectX 10 should see a pretty significant performance boost. With the release of Windows 7 nearly upon us, many have been holding off on GPU upgrades until the DX11 parts to start rolling off the line, and this time it appears AMD will beat Nvidia out of the gate with its “Evergreen” series.
This hunch was further re-enforced by a live hands on demonstration provided to PC Perspective at QuakeCon showing a working DX11 graphics card in action. The GPU code named “Future Card” was running several live DirectX 11 SDK simulations, but even more impressive was its ability to launch and run existing DirectX 9 titles. Its one thing to show a tech demo, but it’s even more impressive to prove you have a fully functional card.
It looks like the Radeon HD 5000 series will among the first DX11 cards on the market, and AMD could well be on track for a late 2009 release. Is the race to DirectX 11 a battle Nvidia can afford to lose?
Microsoft's upcoming Zune HD will get more than a little help from Nvidia in going toe-to-toe against Apple's iPod and every other handheld media player on the market. Providing extra processor oomph, the Zune HD will use Nvidia's multi-core Tegra processor.
"Nvidia brings power graphics to the portable media player. This is a unique capability," said Jeff Orr, senior analyst for mobile content at ABI Research.
What makes Nvidia's Tegra so special -- and the Zune HD so promising -- are eight independent processors, which will go a long ways in helping the Zune HD handle high definition video and Flash content on its OLED touch screen without necessitating a bulky formfactor.
"Apple probably builds a pretty good SoC [System-on-Chip], but in terms of what they have already enabled [on the iPod Touch], I don't believe it has nearly the graphics and power management that Tegra does," said Mike Rayfield, a general manager at Nvidia. "We've benchmarked against everyone out there, and we are the most advanced in terms of graphics and overall power management."
The Zune HD will be just one of many devices to make use of Nvidia's Tegra processor. According to Nvidia, there are about 50 other gadgets in design right now with Tegra.
Remember that whole fiasco with Nvidia graphics-based notebooks giving up the ghost because of a "weak die/packaging material set?" That manufacturing defect ended up costing Nvidia millions of dollars in warranty repairs. It also led to extended warranties by some OEMs, the latest of which is Sony.
"Sony, in cooperation with Nvidia, has been looking into any possible effect to Vaio notebooks with Nvidia graphic processors. Until recently we had not identified any Vaio models that were affected by this issue," Sony said in an eSupport USA notice.
The statement went on to disclose that a "very small percentage" of Nvidia-based Vaio PCs may exhibit "distorted video, duplicate images, or a blank screen" because of the faulty GPU.
According to Sony, affected models include the Vaio VGN-AR1xx, VGN-AR2xx, VGN-AR3xx, VGN-FZ1xx, VGN-FZ2xx, VGN-FZ3xx, VGN-FZ4xx, VGC-LT1xx, and and VGC-LT2xx series. For those who need repair service because of a failing GPU, Sony said it will provide a three year warranty extension.
Nvidia on Monday announced that Intel and leading motherboard manufacturers have licensed the graphic chip maker's SLI technology for use in Intel's P55 Express chipset. This will include boards from Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, and MSI.
"Nvidia technology is a perfect complement to the processing prowess of our new Core i7 and Intel DP55KG desktop brand," said Clem Russo, VP and General Manager of Intel Client Board Division. "Nvidia and Intel share a combined passion for furthering the PC as the definitive platform for gaming, and this combination will surely be attractive to anyone building or purchasing a brand new PC this fall."
By adding the P55 chipset under SLI's licensing umbrella, SLI is now available for all consumer PC platforms, including the Intel Core i7, Core i5, Core 2 Quad, and Core 2 Duo processor, in addition to those based on the AMD Phenom II CPU, Nvidia points out.
Nvidia’s second quarter profits are evidence poor quality costs much more than just bad PR. The company recorded a charge of $119 million to cover warranty costs associated with faulty die and weak packaging materials used in its graphics chips. This is significantly better than the $196 million it had already written off for the same reason, but it was still much higher than analysts were expecting.
Most of these issues can be traced back to a faulty solder bump that was discovered in its 8M-series mobile graphics chip. Nvidia estimated at the time that the warranty costs could be somewhere in the range of $200 million, but clearly the $315+ million they have already spent shows they were perhaps a bit overly conservative in their estimates. This might be a result of the problem reportedly cropping up in G92 and G94 series mobile cards as well, but Nvidia has been pretty tight lipped on the issue.
When asked to comment on the charge Nvidia downplayed the impact and described them as a small distraction. Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims it hasn’t impacted Nvidia’s ability to launch new products, and he expects profits to rise in the near future. Huang is being optimistic, but he is likely hoping to reassure investors who saw the company’s revenue drop this quarter to $776.5 million from $892.6 million only a year ago. “The company has invested in new products such as Tesla, a graphics processing unit for high-performance computing, and low-power Tegra chips for mobile devices. The products should start contributing to the revenue stream soon”, Huang said.