Nvidia: Gaming on Intel's next-gen chip

Graphics-chip supplier Nvidia says demand for its chips will be healthy in 2011, right alongside Intel's newest "Sandy Bridge" processor.

Graphics-chip supplier Nvidia says it will do just fine despite claims by Intel that its next-gen chip will offer a higher-octane gaming experience.

Nvidia discrete graphics chips are in Apple's 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros.
Nvidia discrete graphics chips are in Apple's 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros. Apple

Slated to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5, the Second Generation Intel Core--aka, "Sandy Bridge"--boasts improved graphics performance, allowing PC makers to offer low-cost laptops that are more adept at games and multimedia. In short, no extra graphics chip from Nvidia or Advanced Micro Devices will be required in certain laptop models.

But Rene Haas, general manager, notebook products, at Nvidia, says the need for standalone GPUs, or graphics processing units, to handle increasingly demanding games and multimedia data streams above and beyond the capability of Intel's built-in--or integrated--graphics won't change next year. "As we get into 2011 and look at Sandy Bridge, our perspective is that the world is not going to change very much relative to our discrete (standalone) GPUs," Haas said.

Haas continued. "We've talked to a lot of [PC makers] about this. The feedback that we received is that many of the same issues still exist relative to [Intel's graphics] performance. If you look at the ability to play next year's games, what's going to be the future-proofing component for integrated graphics? For example, Windows 7's DX-11 (DirectX 11) does not run on Sandy Bridge integrated graphics. And GPU acceleration is now coming to browsers--IE9, Mozilla (Firefox), Chrome (Google). [Browser acceleration] is not all there yet, but having that ability to offer it is going to be pretty huge," he said.

To back its assertion that demand for GPUs is healthy, Nvidia quoted an analyst in a release sent out on Thursday. "Demand from [PC makers] for discrete graphics solutions remains strong and above historic levels," according to the statement from Dean McCarron of Mercury Research, which tracks the graphics-chip market. "Mercury Research forecasts that discrete GPU shipments will double between 2009 and 2014."

And Haas says its Optimus technology, that can seamlessly switch between Intel's integrated graphics and Nvidia's discrete GPUs--depending on power-savings and performance requirements, respectively--will be offered on most of the 200 plus Nvidia-equipped laptop models coming in 2011. Optimus toggles the system between Intel and Nvidia silicon based on the application, Haas said. "Optimus decides, based on the classification of application, what processor (Intel or Nvidia) to run on. For example, any game will run on the GPU. If it's standard-definition video, such as DVD, it will run on integrated graphics because the integrated graphics will run standard definition at lower power. High-Definition video will run on the GPU," he said, as just a couple of salient examples.

Nvidia says it has verified design wins at Acer, Alienware, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba in 2011.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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