AMD posted better-than-expected earnings on Thursday and proved to its chief rival Intel that they may be down, but not out. The company which has been losing money for some time now managed to make a respectable 13 cents per share which far outstripped analyst expectations of a 39 cent loss. This is good news for AMD, but the semi conductor giant isn’t out of hot water just yet. The company still posted a $67 million dollar loss, though when you compare this to the $396 million it shed in the same quarter last year it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Not surprisingly, sales and margins improved mostly on the back of its graphics chip division which has made significant gains in market share at the expensive of Nvidia. Revenues rose to $1.78 billion again pulling ahead of analyst expectations of a meager $1.48 billion. AMD has stated that it expects fourth quarter earnings to be flat, and given its current processor lineup vs. Intel, not losing any further market share will indeed be a challenge. The recent announcement that will split the company in two won’t take effect until year end. AMD stock is currently trading at $4.21 down almost 50% since the beginning of the year.
Nvidia owners with an SLI setup who have dreamed of running multiple monitors have been left in the cold for quite some time now. Stretching your real estate out onto a second monitor forced GeForce owners to disable SLI and reconfigure settings from scratch each time. This could take up several minutes and in some extreme cases, even a reboot. ATI owners on the other hand have had the ability to run crossfire on multi monitors for quite some time now and even Nvidia’s Quadro lineup has a fix in place. The day of reckoning is at hand however for GeForce owners and the wait for a fix may soon be over. According to leaked drivers which were previewed by VR-Zone an update from Nvidia may put the issue to bed once and for all. Screen shots and even a download link to the driver shows SLI multi monitor support in action.
Version 180.10 which Nvidia dubs “Big Bang II” could be rolling out soon and these drivers show that significant progress has been made on the issue. The site currently only offers the 64 bit version and this “leaked” copy features a few limitations which are important to know. Currently only clone mode is available for the second monitor, and 3D applications will match the resolutions on both displays regardless of compatibility. Additionally, these features come with roughly a 5% performance hit acording to 3DMark. Additional program specific conflicts are also being discussed in forums, and Nvidia (understandably) isn’t saying much.
The company has not confirmed the authenticity of these drivers or given any official release date on “Big Bang II”. The suggested launch date of September has obviously come and gone and ForceWare version 178.24 debuted just last week. Since driver releases are traditionally a minimum of one month apart, I highly doubt we will see anything new before late November or sometime in December at the earliest.
Nvidia's latest videocard release takes aim at the graphics professional rather than the hardcore gamer with its new Quadro CX GPU. The new card comes just in time for those planning on jumping onto Adobe's Creative Suite 4, as the Quadro CX has been designed with the suite in mind, which Nvidia claims will give uses the "ability to create rich, stunning content in a faster, smoother, and more interactive way."
The Quadro CX comes with 1.5GB of GDDR3 memory on a 384-bit memory interface capable of 76.8GB/sec of memory bandwidth. Dual Link DVI comes standard, as well as support for OpenGL 2.1, Shader Model 4.0, and DirectX 10.
The customized GPU allows Photoshop CS4 to offload real-time image rotation, zooming, and panning, as well as instantaneous view changes. But such goodies won't come cheap. MSRP has been set to $2000. Ouch!
Nvidia this week has released new WHQL videocard drivers - version 178.24 - applicable for GeForce 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, and 200-series owners. The 85MB download sports a number of improvements, including PhysX acceleration on all GeForce 8-, 9-, and 200 series GPUs with at least 256MB of graphics memory. Intel X5400XS motherboard owners can now run up to 3-way SLI with the new driver package.
Gaming looks to get a sizable boost with the new drivers as well. Nvidia claims both Call of Duty 4 and Bioshock (DX10) will see a 15 percent gain by running 178.24, while Assassin's Creed (DX10) will get an 11 percent bump on a single card setup. For those sporting 2-way SLI, World in Conflict (DX10), Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (DX10) are said to run at least 10 percent faster.
Nvidia scored a much needed win for its mobile graphics with the release of the 9400M GPU, which Apple has chosen to use in its refreshed MacBook line. Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave credit to the 9400M for offering better performance in the new MacBooks, ultimately leading the company to choose Nvidia over Intel.
One could argue that vendor confidence in Nvidia had been more than a little rattled after it came to light that the company's 8M series might have a more serious design flaw than initially thought. What started off as a bad batch of GPUs quickly turned into speculation that the problem could be widespread among Nvidia's silicon, affecting not only mobile parts but desktop solutions as well. But Apple could be just what Nvidia needs to turn this perception around.
When it comes time to shop for a videocard, most people are concerned about the pixel pushing power and how well a new GPU can handle Crysis. Yet others are more concerned with a videocard's ability to fit into a home theater PC setup, both physically and functionally. Some GPUs are even sought after for their ability to fold proteins, but apparently there's another use emerging, one with malicious intent.
According to Global Secure Systems, a Russian firm used Nvidia GPUs to break through WPA and WPA2 encryption. Assuming the report is accurate, the implications are nothing less than frightening, as GSS claims the brute force attack managed to accelerate WiFi 'password recovery' times by up to 10,000 percent.
"This breakthrough in brute force decryption of WiFi signals by Elcomsoft confirms our observations that firms can no longer rely on standards-based security to protect their data," noted David Hobson, managing director of GSS. "As a result, we now advise clients using WiFi in their offices to move on up to a VPM encryption system as well."
But even moving to a VPN may not be enough, as many VPNs use AES encryption just like WPA2. And by throwing videocards into the mix (it remains unclear which specific Nvidia GPUs were utilized), accessibility quickly becomes a growing concern.
Does this latest attack concern you? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
The technique leverages the parallel processing power of Nvidia’s latest graphics cards to speed up the “password recovery” process by 10,000 per cent. Global Security Systems (GSS) has advised enterprises to deploy VPNs for safeguarding their WiFi networks.
We, too, can only advise you to secure your office WiFi network using VPN encryption before professional industrial sleuths start waging brute forcing blitzkriegs using ordinary graphics cards.
There's no denying Nvidia has seen better days, but is the current situation enough to warrant leaving the chipset business? Back in August when the rumor first surfaced, Nvidia vehemently denied the speculation calling it "completely groundless," but apparently not everyone is convinced.
Nvidia saw its shares tumble nearly 14 percent yesterday following a negative report on the company from Pacific Crest analyst Michael McConnell. In the report, McConnell says "our checks confirm that Nvidia has decided to exit the chipset market next year," while also noting that chipsets are expected to account for 21 percent of Nvidia's revenue. McConnell also suggested Nvidia would likely pre-announce negative financial results for the third quarter ended October.
At the other end of the rumor spectrum, Mac-inites insist next generation MacBooks will come assembled with Nvidia silicon. Word on the web is that Nvidia has been showing off prototypes internally of the upcoming MacBook with Nvidia inside.
Nvidia has a new videcoard driver available for download, and for you poor saps on dial-up, it will come as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the 86.9MB download checks in at more than the twice the size of previously released drivers. But added bulk brings PhysX acceleration to the table for owners of Nvidia's GeForce 8, 9, and 200 series of videocards outfitted with a minimum of 256MB of video memory.
If you're anxious to see what potential lies in PhysX support, Nvidia offers a free GeForce Power Pack containing several demos, a full game (Warmonger), an Unreal Tournament 3 mod, and more.
The new driver also contains the usual assortment 3D application compatibility fixes, along with purported performance boosts in a handful of games. For example, Nvidia says single-GPU gamers can expect a 15 percent increase in Bioshock (DX10), 11 percent in Assassin's Creed (DX10), and 15 percent in Call of Duty 4, among other titles.
With Intel bracing itself for the discrete GPU market with its upcoming Larrabee chip, Nvidia and AMD are expected to make an earnest attempt at luring millions of users of integrated graphics with their low-end discrete graphics solutions – quid pro quo. ATI/AMD has launched its low-end offerings HD 4350 and HD 4550 with integrated graphics’ users in sight. The new GPUs are priced between $40 and $55.
The cards are based on AMD’s 55 nm 4800 series architecture and are claimed to hold an edge over Nvidia’s low-end 9400 series. Both the GPUs have 80 stream processors and are clocked at 600 MHz. The HD 4550 will come with either 256 MB or 512 MB GDDR3 memory. On the other hand, HD 4350 will only be available with 256 MB of DDR2. The GPUs are only going to consume 20 watts of power, which is 2/5 of the appetite for power of Nvidia’s 9400 series.