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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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What cans do NVidia have in the fridge to open?
By Amiga500 on 4/10/2008 4:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
As above?

At the moment, it looks like they are going to come under increased pressure from RV770 (apparently its in pilot production already), AMD/ATI are happy to go toe-to-toe in price/performance if not in outright performance, and NVidia have a real problem emerging in the chipset markets, both IGP (good performance of AMD 780G) and discrete (poor performance of Nvidia 7X0).

So what are they gonna strike back with? A new GPU is not going to leave Intel seriously worried... are VIA a viable takeover prospect?

By cmdrdredd on 4/10/2008 4:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
the problem is that there are not any games on the horizon that warrant extra horsepower. The one game out there, crysis, failed IMO.

So I would like to see physics acceleration, hardware video decoding, HDMI audio streaming or decoding for HTPC usage,etc.

RE: What cans do NVidia have in the fridge to open?
By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 5:48:31 PM , Rating: 2
There is really a catch 22 here: Games that push high end hardware are doomed to commercial failure if they are not at least playable on average hardware.

Crysis is the only game that pushes modern high end hardware and it runs like crap on 99.9% of the systems in existance. That pretty much garunteed that it would look pretty, but be a complete commercial failure.

You can't make a commercially successful product if you limit the people that can actually use it down to almost nothing at all.

Doesn't help that (in my opinion) it was only a mediocre game as well.

By Silver2k7 on 4/12/2008 6:41:34 AM , Rating: 2
Crysis does hardly even run on a 30" 2560x1600, its got single digit frames like 5-9fps or something.

If they are opening the whopass can I would like some cards that cun run it at this resolution in a playable manner.. preferably even 75fps with sli.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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