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NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang lets everyone know his company is spending nearly a billion dollars each year ready to take on Intel's graphics offerings
Any notion that Intel and NVIDIA have common ground in the graphics industry can now be easily dismissed

NVIDIA's already candid CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had more than a few things to say during the company's financial analyst meeting today. An hour into the call Huang began to ad lib; clearly something was on his mind.

"We're going to open a can of whoop ass," he told analysts, who quickly broke out into laughter. 

For the past two weeks Intel and NVIDIA have been playing a game of cloak and dagger with technology press, complete with secret slide shows and secret slide show rebuttals. At the heart of this covert battle is the integrated graphics market, and some of the claims attached to it.

Intel senior vice president Pat Gelsinger fired the first volley at the Intel Developer Forum last week in Shanghai.  "First, graphics that we have all come to know and love today, I have news for you. It's coming to an end. Our multi-decade old 3D graphics rendering architecture that's based on a rasterization approach is no longer scalable and suitable for the demands of the future," he said.

Gelsinger's bold statement was an introduction to Intel's upcoming Larrabee graphics architecture, but it was enough to put NVIDIA on full alert.  Larrabee is Intel's first attempt at a discrete graphics processor in nearly a decade, with first samples expected to ship and stay competitive with NVIDIA and AMD graphic processors. 

Intel slide decks presented to media argue that spending money on CPUs and more CPU cores makes more sense than spending money on GPUs.  Intel presentations go on to detail that its integrated graphics will still satisfy consumers for years, adding that its upcoming Nehalem architecture will come in variants that integrate GMA 4500 (G45) graphics directly onto the CPU package.

NVIDIA's slide shows almost completely ignore Intel's Larrabee, and focus on IGP claims.  One of Intel's slide decks states GMA 3100 (G33) is more than enough to watch high definition videos. NVIDIA counters by citing my previous publication, AnandTech. "While the video capabilities of the [GMA 3100] will suffice for running Vista Aero, just about any office application, and a wide variety of non-3D based games, it is not up to the task of running the latest games, decoding 1080P HD content, or even providing decent video capabilities for a media station," AnandTech's Gary Key writes.

Huang argues that not only are Intel's integrated offerings "a joke," but that even if Intel manages increase graphics performance by ten times by 2010, that's barely up to par with current NVIDIA offerings.  He claims what passes for average graphics outside of the tech enthusiast crowd should be consider abysmal in the visual computing world.

Throughout the bulk of the conference call, Huang continued to lament Intel for poor graphics performance.  He hints at another Intel slide deck that claims Intel GMA 3100 is Windows Vista Premium compatible -- a claim which was debunked by Microsoft employees in a recent lawsuit

Intel fired back minutes later, sending emails to analysts detailing NVIDIA's poor track record when it comes to Vista crashes due to incomplete drivers.  Almost on cue, Huang responded once again.

"NVIDIA has to support several new titles every week," he said, alleging that Intel's graphics just have to support the basic office packages.  "You already have the right machine to run Excel. You bought it four years ago," he said.

The statement clearly struck a nerve with Huang, who paused for a second before adding "How much faster can you render the blue screen of death?"

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By therealnickdanger on 4/10/2008 4:17:33 PM , Rating: 4
I love this! I've got an equal level of respect for both NVIDIA and Intel, so this article makes me very pleased to see that they are both so eagerly pursuing graphics technology. Intel is certainly not one to talk about drivers. NVIDIA may have caused the majority of Vista crashes, but at least they have drivers THAT WORK! Every single promise of Intel's for their IGPs thus far have completely fallen away. I have zero hope in IGP 4500, whereas any give NVIDIA IGP mops the floor with Intel.

I just hope relations don't sour, I like seeing them work together.

RE: Gold!
By Amiga500 on 4/10/2008 4:18:59 PM , Rating: 3
I like seeing them work together

I don't think Nvidia and Intel really do work together, they tolerate each other and that is about the height of it.

RE: Gold!
By therealnickdanger on 4/10/2008 5:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well, whatever the context, NVIDIA chipsets plus Intel CPUs tend to function very well. Throw in a discrete NVIDIA GPU and you've got the fastest rig on the planet (assuming the highest end of each company).

RE: Gold!
By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 5:10:30 PM , Rating: 1
Would be nice if they could actually you know fix the reference design for the MCP though so they don't run twice as hot as the CPU!

RE: Gold!
By eye smite on 4/10/2008 5:11:03 PM , Rating: 1
I've always had good luck with Nvidia cards. I think after reading this though, Huang should start his own comedy tech show. lol

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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