We've tried not to get too hung up on the posturing by both AMD and Nvidia over whose graphics card driver software is most prepared for Windows 7. With no major upheaval to the Windows core driver design, as with the transition from XP to Vista, we expect both vendors will have little trouble making the switch on. We're a bit more interested in a press release from AMD today, heralding a demo of its forthcoming DirectX 11 graphics hardware at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. That makes AMD the first vendor to show the next generation of 3D chips to the public.
Other than the fact that it says AMD has demonstrated graphics hardware performing a few DirectX 11-based operations, the press release provides very little concrete information about the next generation chip. It mentions an end of 2009 release, which lines up with a story on the Inquirer last week. The Inquirer piece also suggests the chip will debut as the ATI Radeon HD 5870, which sounds plausible to us.
Even if the chip details are sparse, AMD says it demonstrated its new hardware speeding nongaming applications in Windows 7 by way of the DirectCompute component of DirectX 11. DirectCompute, if you're unfamiliar, is essentially the Windows-based alternative to Nvidia's effort to offload certain nongaming application tasks, most typically video transcoding, from the CPU to the GPU. Nvidia is sure to support DirectCompute as well with its own DirectX 11 hardware.
We have no information on when Nvidia might come to market with its own next-generation GPUs, but for all of the effort Nvidia has put into marketing CUDA and GPU computing in general, it will be ironic if AMD brings its DirectX 11-capable chip out first, especially once Windows 7 introduces graphics-based computing to a wide consumer audience.