It was a disappointing fourth quarter for graphics chip makers as overall shipments failed to meet expectations, according to Jon Peddie Research. Year-on-year growth was "an unimpressive 4.3 percent," which JPR pegged as a major bummer considering the graphics market came blazing through the gates at the beginning of the year.
Thanks to the integrated graphics business, Intel once again led the charge by claiming a 52.5 percent market share, up 2.9 percent on year. It was a close race for second place, with AMD edging ahead of Nvidia with a 24.2 percent share compared to 22.5 share. Perhaps more importantly, AMD's market share rose 11.2 percent on year, while Nvidia slid 15.1 percent.
JPR acknowledged that the tablet market, and specifically Apple's iPad, might ultimately be the reason why graphics chip sales didn't meet expectations, noting that the iPad "has cut into low end PC sales."
AMD's latest Catalyst 11.1 driver suite introduces a handful of big performance gains, including up to 17 percent in Left 4 Dead 2 on Radeon HD 6800 series cards in both single and CrossFire configurations with AF and AA disabled, and up to 12 percent in F1 2010 on Radeon HD 6900 cards with the same criteria. The new drivers also eradicate a bunch of known issues, such as:
Aliens vs. Predator game no longer fails to load with quad-CrossFire enabled (Windows 7)
The Protoss Pylon Matrix is now rendered correctly in Starcraft 2 (Windows 7)
System no longer crashes when enabling CrossFire with 2 monitors connected to the primary card and 2 monitors connected to the secondary card (Windows 7)
Video corruption is no longer randomly seen during DVD playback using Windows Media Player (Windows Vista)
Call of Duty: Black Ops no longer randomly hangs on AMD Radeon HD 57xx series products (Windows XP)
There are lots of other fixes applicable to all three Windows operating systems, which you can view in the Release Notes. When you're ready to dive in, you can download the new drivers here.
Excited about Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 560 Ti videocard? You aren't the only one. Boutique system builder iBuyPower announced it's now offering the new GPU across its entire line of desktops, including its LAN Warrior II Paladin XLC and Level 10 lines.
If you're not yet acquainted with the GTX 560 Ti, we have some recommended reading:
The short and sweet of it is Nvidia's GTX 560 Ti offers "impressive performance for the dolloar and watt," and depending on what cooling solution is being used, noise is acceptable too.
As it pertains to iBuyPower, the company's aforementioned LAN Warrior II starts at $970 when equipped with a GTX 560 Ti. Other options include a Palit Sonic GTX 560 Ti (900MHz) for $19 more, an EVGA Superclocked GTX 560 Ti (900MHz) for $29 more, or a 2GB GTX 560 Ti that also adds $29 to the bottom line.
AMD was forced to relinquish its single-GPU performance crown when Nvidia launched its GeForce GTX 580 videocard, but still retained bragging rights for having the fastest single videocard on the planet, the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970. Meet the successor to this popular card, the Radeon HD 6990 (codenamed Antilles).
Matt Skynner, AMD's Corporate VP and General Manager of its GPU division, surprised attendees of the AMD Asia Pacific Fusion Tech Day by whipping out the upcoming card packed with two Cayman GPUs insides, pictures of which quickly flooded the Internet.
AMD didn't get into too many specifics, but you can spy a single DVI output and four mini DisplayPorts. Power is provided by a 6-pin and 8-pin pair of connectors, and according to HardwareZone, the card is "close to the length of a forearm" (holding a piece of paper up to the card, 4Gamer.net estimates the length to be around 300mm, or just shy of 12 inches).
4Gamer says the card should be begin shipping by the end of the first quarter.
It looks like the previous rumors were true and there will indeed be a 1GB of version of AMD's Radeon HD 6950 graphics card. According to HardOCP, here's what AMD had to say on the matter:
"When we launched the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series in December, AMD introduced our most advanced enthusiast GPU ever," the chip maker said. "Equipped with a 2GB frame buffer for extreme high quality settings and very high Eyefinity resolutions we delivered an immersive gaming experience...AMD partners are introducing the AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB variant, bringing all the capabilities of the AMD Radeon HD 6900 series to new price points."
Those new price points break down as follows:
AMD Radeon HD 6950 2GB: $269 to $289
AMD Radeon HD 6950 1GB: $259
AMD Radeon HD 6870: $219
AMD claims the new 1GB card delivers "an incredible feature set and enthusiast class performance to a highly competitive price point," though it remains to be seen if consumers will see it the same way. AMD's pricing is in line with what we heard before, meaning the 1GB model only nets system builders and gamers a savings of $10 to $30. That's enough to buy a PC game (or several if you take advantage of Steam's frequent sales), but less of a difference than we had hoped.
Today, Nvidia announced its new sweet-spot GPU. Our Lab tests reveal that the GTX 560Ti, an updated and beefed up version of the GTX 460 - Nvidia's previous sweet-spot graphics processor - is a solid performer. Our initial numbers are after the jump, but the short version is that, much like previous reports indicated, the GTX 560 Ti is a reengineering of the GTX 460, a card that we gave high marks in late 2010 for its power and competitive price.
The GTX 460 boasted 336 CUDA cores, and was stock-clocked at 650MHz. The GPU overclocked particularly well; factory-OC’d models like Gigabyte’s 715MHz GV-N460OC-1GI GTX 460 easily trounced their price-point competition until the introduction of the Radeon HD 6870.
The GTX 560Ti kicks the CUDA cores up to 384 and the stock clock up to 822MHz, with factory-overclocked cards hitting north of 900MHz and as high as the 1GHz mark. Catch our first benchmark runs after the jump.
Taking a cue from its parent company Palit, which itself has been known to slap more video RAM on a graphics card than the stock configuration calls for, Gainward today introduced its GeForce GTX 580 3072MB Phantom3.
According to Gainward, that superscript is supposed to denote the "Phantom power of 3," which refers to the use of three PWM cooling fans underneath the ginormous heatsink. These are flanked by six "Gainward Grand Prix Heatpipes," each one 6mm in size. Gainward claims you'll see up to 12C lower temps compared to a stock GTX 580 during 3D heavy tasks, and up to 54 percent less noise during standby.
Other specs look more familiar, including 512 CUDA cores, 783MHz GPU, 1566MHz shader, 4020MHz memory, 384-bit bus, DX11 support, dual-DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
Let's start with the good news. For you penny pinchers, AMD apparently plans to release a Radeon HD 6950 videcoard with half the amount of RAM as the original (1GB versus 2GB). It's a safe bet that cutting the frame buffer in half will impact performance in some games at certain resolutions and visual quality settings, but depending on the price, it could be an acceptable trade-off.
That leads us to the bad news. According to Hardware Canucks, which claims to have spoken with AMD about the upcoming card, the lesser equipped HD 6950 in 1GB trim will sell for $279. If that is indeed the case, gamers on a strict budget will have to decide if it's worth saving a mere $20 over a standard HD 6950 with the full 2GB, and that's without factoring in mail-in-rebates (Newegg lists a handful of 2GB 6950 cards marked down after rebate, including an HIS model for $270 post-rebate).
All other specs will remain the same, HC says, including the stock speeds and stream processor count.
AMD sent out a press release detailing its upcoming Catalyst Hotfix 11.a drivers, which the company promises will bring increased performance and "a slew of new features." As it pertains to the new Radeon HD 6900 and 6800 series of cards, some of the highlights include:
3DMark Vantage: 7 percent improvement
3DMark05: 3 percent improvement
Call of Duty: Black Ops: 20 percent improvement at 4xMSAA, up to 35 percent at 8xMSAA
Batman Arkham Aslyum: 4 percent improvement
Metro 2033: 28 percent improvement at 4xMSAA
AMD says the hotfix also provides some new tessellation controls with the goal of giving users full control over the tessellation levels used in applications.
According to HardOCP, the new drivers will be publicly available on January 26th.
Nvidia graphics card owners have the option of updating to the newly released GeForce 266.58 WHQL drivers, which add support for the newly released GTX 580 and 570 GPUs.
The latest drivers bring quite a bit to the table, including up to double-digit performance gains in some games (up to 12 percent in Battleforge when running a pair of GTX 580 videocards, for example) and support for ambient occlusion in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.
Nvidia administered a heavy dose of 3D medicine to the 266.58 drivers, adding support for a bunch of new 3D Vision projectors, all-in-one PCs, DLP HDTVs, and desktop LCD monitors.