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Sandy Bridge is the reason for strong growth in CPU/GPU hybrids  (Source: Intel)
By 2014 over 80% will have CPU graphics

Both Intel and AMD are implementing so-called graphics-enabled microprocessors (GEMs) inside laptops and desktops on the mainstream markets this year.

Research firm iSuppli has announced that these GEMs will be installed in about 115 million notebooks that will ship this year, which is about half the expected shipments for all of 2011. At the same time, the GEMs will be crammed inside about 45% of desktop computers that ship working out to about 63 million units.

One major reason for the number of GEMs shipped to grow so strongly this year is that the Sandy Bridge processors from Intel are GEMs, and AMD will be bringing its own offering to market too.

"The two biggest players in the PC microprocessor field are intensifying their competition in the GEM market in 2011," IHS said. "Intel at the beginning of 2011 was getting ready to launch its second-generation Core processor family known as Sandy Bridge, which integrates the CPU and graphics processor into one single piece of silicon. AMD, on the other hand, will release five application platforms with five GEM microprocessor categories."

The GEMs allow the notebooks and desktops to handle the graphics needs of the company and HD video rendering. They are not, however, often up to high-end 3D gaming. Users of desktop and notebook computers that are meant for high-end 3D gaming will still need discrete GPUs to get the performance needed to support high-resolution graphics and fast frame rates. 

ISuppli also notes that by 2014 it expects 83% of the notebooks and 76% of the desktop computers shipped to use GEMs. Those numbers will undoubtedly hurt the discrete GPU business of NVIDIA with its mainstream GPUs not being used as much. NVIDIA should still be popular in the discrete GPU market for gaming though.

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By therealnickdanger on 3/18/2011 11:36:10 AM , Rating: 2
Looking at the graphics improvements Intel made with the move from Arrandale to Sandy Bridge in less than one year, I wonder if discrete graphics will even be necessary in 3 years. I mean, assuming Intel is able to double (or greater) their IGP performance with each step... And shoot, AMD's Fusion is just starting!

I know, I know, there will probably always be a market for discrete mobile graphics, but I think it will become less compelling.

RE: 2014...
By Flunk on 3/18/2011 11:42:51 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree, Intel's current integrated solution may be significantly better than their last but it's still seriously inadequate. 2 years ago Intel's integrated solution was pathetic for software written 2 years ago and measured against current software their current solution is just as pathetic.

RE: 2014...
By Solandri on 3/18/2011 4:06:10 PM , Rating: 2
I think GP is right, though his timeframe is a too optimistic.

Intel's integrated solutions are inadequate for heavy gaming, but are substantially faster than they were in the past. 7 years ago, an integrated solution was inadequate for even business graphics. Now it's good enough to run older and simpler 3D games. My laptop is manually switchable between integrated and discrete. On the older games, I sometimes forget to switch and it's only after a few minutes of playing that I realize I'm still running on the integrated graphics.

The percentage of laptop purchasers who need discrete graphics is becoming smaller and smaller. I think discrete graphics will always be needed for heavy 3D work (AutoCAD, 3D Studio) and the hardcore gamers. But for more and more people, integrated graphics is becoming an adequate solution.

RE: 2014...
By mindless1 on 3/18/2011 4:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
7 years ago the average business PC had integrated graphics and everyone managed just fine except for imaging/cad/etc type work. Even 10 years ago this was true, though at that time it did eat up a good chunk of memory bandwidth.

A laptop is not a good example for gaming in general since that type of use is dominated by desktop systems, unless the panel in it is at least 1080p since it is becoming the bare minimum resolution for any *decent* desktop system and we all dread the idea of gaming at non-native resolutions.

RE: 2014...
By n00bxqb on 3/20/2011 3:52:57 AM , Rating: 2
Funny, it wasn't until the last generation Intel HD Graphics that they could even handle the Source engine games at a decent framerate, which is, what, like an 8-year-old engine now ? Brutal ...

Even if this latest gen is twice as fast, memory bandwidth won't be and I seriously doubt you're going to be rocking Crysis (which is nearly 4 years old now) on a Sandy Bridge laptop w/ integrated graphics at a decent framerate.

There's still a LLLOOONNNGGG way for Intel to go if they want AMD and Nvidia to disappear ...

RE: 2014...
By rudy on 3/18/2011 12:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
So far intel has failed to deliver graphics performance. As stated faster than last generation intel means nothing then they are still generations behind nVidia and AMD. Lets put it this way if discrete was on the way out my belief is it would have already been gone. The mass public does not even know there is a such thing as onboard and discrete graphics and have not ever known. They only know bigger and smaller numbers if they even know what a GPU is. And dispite that we still have GPUs going into notebooks. Also no matter what there is always the need to sell you more junk so companies will always drive the next product cycle no matter how good the processing gets. Look at HDTVs they sold the public on the idea that 60hz was all you needed with a LCD, then they inserted feet in mouth and sold them on 120 then 240 then they renamed real 120 3d and it just keeps going.

RE: 2014...
By Jeremy87 on 3/18/2011 12:37:55 PM , Rating: 2
You don't think discrete graphics will get better by 2014?

RE: 2014...
By Arsynic on 3/18/2011 1:26:48 PM , Rating: 2
AMD owns ATi which means they have decades of graphics experience and thus an advantage over Intel.

I do agree that only high end GPUs will be discrete units since they have stringent thermal and power requirements. But you won't see any separate IGPs on motherboards anymore.

RE: 2014...
By nafhan on 3/18/2011 1:38:07 PM , Rating: 2
Depending on how you define "not necessary" I think you could be right. For gaming it sounds like Llano/Bulldozer will probably have enough graphics muscle to actually play most games with medium settings (i.e. similar to a 56/5570). Extrapolate from there, and it's not unreasonable to believe that the lower and maybe even middle range GPU's (the two places where most of the sales occur) will not be necessary in a few years...
High end will never truly be replaced by integrated, but I could see them getting pushed out of the market as their costs relative to "good enough" on die GPU's goes up.

RE: 2014...
By Da W on 3/18/2011 3:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
IF pc games don't evolve much. But there will always be things that a discrete 300W discrete card will do that a 75W CPU/GPU won't.

RE: 2014...
By spread on 3/19/2011 12:37:45 AM , Rating: 2
Looking at the graphics improvements Intel made with the move from Arrandale to Sandy Bridge in less than one year I wonder if discrete graphics will even be necessary in 3 years.

I too am impressed. Instead of lagging behind the competition 5 years, they now lag behind the competition only 3 years!

Such fantastic improvements.

RE: 2014...
By PrinceGaz on 3/19/2011 9:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, and that will mean that soon the average PC an "ordinary" person buys will have graphics-power similar to the games consoles out there, making the PC an increasingly viable gaming market (people have been saying consoles will kill PC gaming for years, but it never happened, and now it looks like the PC is about to rebound.

I don't know if you were being sarcastic, but 3 or even 5 years is not a big deal, when talking about cutting edge hardware only a few people have.

somewhat disappointed in AMD
By wordsworm on 3/21/2011 4:22:07 AM , Rating: 2
I was expecting a 6 core, 4x CPU/2x GPU, APU this year. I am also wondering when they'll introduce a motherboard with DDR4/5 so that the GPU would have faster memory. I also wanted to know what would happen if a discrete graphics solution were added on the motherboard, and, according to AMD, it would simply replace the GPU unit on the APU rather than work together with it: simple tasks would rely on APU's GPU while games would rely on discrete GPU, or even work like Crossfire. That is unfortunate.

RE: somewhat disappointed in AMD
By ET on 3/21/2011 1:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
Actually a couple of months back there was a news item about Llano working together with discrete low end GPU's in a sort of crossfire mode. Also AMD has introduced a new technology to switch between APU and GPU (you can read about it at Rage3D). So I have no idea what you're basing your assertions on. It looks like AMD will give you what you want.

RE: somewhat disappointed in AMD
By wordsworm on 3/24/2011 8:17:34 AM , Rating: 2
I sent an email to Chris Hook (senior manager of PR at AMD) concerning the E-350:

In the traditional paradigm, the CPU and GPU work together to provide the foundation of a computing environment. Now that the GPU and CPU are together in what's now being called an APU, it occurs to me that the graphics processor can make use of DDR4 and 5. Will it be possible in the near future to have two sets of memory on the same motherboard to serve both the graphical and the computational nature of the APU? So, both DDR3 and DDR5 might be on the same board?

Second question: what kind of time frame are we looking at for the APU to start using more cores? Since there is a 6-core chip, I could foresee 4xCPU/2xGPU on the same die. I tried to find projections for this kind of combination, but haven't had much luck in finding more about the future of these Fusion designs.

I also went looking for information on how the E350 would work with a graphics cards. A number of boards coming out have a slot for a graphics card. Would the graphics card, for ordinary tasks, be dormant, but kick in for more graphically intensive tasks? There's absolutely no information about it online.

His reply:

1. What you suggest is certainly possible, but we can’t comment on our future roadmap.

2. We have a 4 core part on our roadmap for this year that has been previously announced (two more cores than the E series), but we can’t comment on unannounced products.

3. With an E-350, the external graphics card would override and replace the APU’s graphics core.


So, maybe with Llano it will be possible. However, with Brazos it is not. I thought that was a real shame. I probably would have picked one up and thrown a Firepro 256 in to handle the bit of Photoshop I do from time to time.

By RamarC on 3/18/2011 10:37:51 AM , Rating: 2
GEMs are simply replacing integrated/on-board graphics.

By DanNeely on 3/18/2011 11:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
Probably. I'm also curious how they figure it won't be 99% in a few years. Intel/AMD aren't going to be selling GPUless mobile parts once their legacy lines are retired, and switchable graphics will give even high end laptops access to the IGP for power saving.

By Chris Peredun on 3/18/2011 3:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Based on the AT review of the Compal SNB laptop, the Intel HD 3000 is already nipping at the heels of the current (yes, there's that word again) low-end offerings such as the HD54xx (80:8:4), and should be close to the GT520M (48:8:4). The Ivy Bridge refresh is supposed to bring 18 EUs and higher clocks, so a 50% performance increase might eliminate the need for the very bottom-tier of discrete GPUs.

<Insert standard Intel GPU driver joke here> though.

There will always be the need for the higher-performance GPUs, but it might just mean that the floor for graphical fidelity gets raised. And that benefits everyone.

By SandmanWN on 3/18/2011 4:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure what everyone was looking at but other than media encoding the HD3000 was just as crappy as every GPU Intel has ever made.

It comes close to the low end of discrete graphics in one very narrowly defined area. That's great if I only ever used my laptop for that one insignificant thing, but overall its still a useless jittering pile of...

By ET on 3/18/2011 6:14:07 PM , Rating: 2
iSuppli invented "GEM", then failed to define or analyse it well. The problem is with the definition of GEM vs. integrated graphics. What do GEM laptops replace, integrated or discrete graphics? Do any integrated graphics not considered GEM count toward the 50% figure? Do Atom based netbooks, which have graphics on the CPU, count as GEM's? Without knowing these, the figures are pretty meaningless.

RE: Invent-a-term
By ET on 3/18/2011 6:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, looks like iSuppli has been using GEM for a little while at least and has already predicted similar things last year:

Interestingly, Jon Peddie's graphics market reports always show Intel to hold over 50% of the graphics market (for example: Since even last gen Intel graphics are "GEM's" (or EGPs, as Jon Peddie refers to them), the iSuppli figure looks a little low.

In any case, I do think that EGP's will eat into the discrete market. These integrated graphics beat low end discrete solutions such as a Radeon 4330 or GeForce 310, so such low level solutions are no longer necessary.

What about hardware acceleration?
By inaphasia on 3/18/2011 2:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
It's just getting started on browsers and video players.

I never used laptops for gaming so I never really needed a discreet GPU. As of 2011, I do:) So, funny thing is, for the past 6 months I've been telling my friends asking for advice, the exact opposite: "Get a pink laptop for all I care, just make sure it's got a graphics card in it". Now, I know I've got zero influence on world markets (or Apple wouldn't be anywhere near they are today). But what if you guys are telling your friends the same?

By jharper12 on 3/18/2011 3:28:23 PM , Rating: 2
"One major reason for the number of GEMs shipped to grow so strongly this year is that the Sandy Bridge processors from Intel are GEMs, and AMD will be bringing its own offering to market too."

Zacate APUs from AMD have been more widely available than Sandy Bridge laptops. Why, in an article related to laptop sales, does it sound like AMD is playing catchup in this market? Due to the recall, AMD picked up a lot of territory they wouldn't have had otherwise. They aren't "bringing" their laptop stuff to market, it's been here. Now desktop variants are still coming, but again, this article is about laptops, so the context for this statement seems to be wrong.

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