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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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RE: how long we have to wait?
By Locutus465 on 4/10/2008 4:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I find Crysis to be a refreshing change on the PC gaming side... How long now have we had PC graphics hardware being capable of running games still in development at 60FPS and higher (faster when release comes up)... It's nice to see a developer create something that crushes current gen hardware and gives developers something to work towards. Heck, if this continues I might actually find my self going SLI one day! For now, it's a single AMD/ATI 3870 for me.

RE: how long we have to wait?
By MPE on 4/10/2008 4:57:12 PM , Rating: 5
It is not that hard to create graphics that is technically demanding on hardware. 3D artist generate them everyday. Filmmakers do it everyday. In fact it is probably one of the easier task - replace one texture with bigger texture, use more complex blurs, add more transparencies, more shadows, etc. You make it as if Crysis requirements is some kind of technical achievement.

It is not. In fact, it is just pretty make up. It distracts your from what is really going on - another FPS.

It prevents people from talking about what is important from more important aspect of game making like writing, game play, mechanics, etc. The technical requirement gives the illusion of replay value.

RE: how long we have to wait?
By Locutus465 on 4/10/2008 5:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
Well I suppose it's not hard to do by being wastefull and innefficient with out actually gaining anything graphically. That's not quite what I would call "pushing the envelope" though, more like purposfully throwing more data at the hardware than it could hope to handle.

I'm talking about new game designs that actually fully push the envolope on the PC side of things.

RE: how long we have to wait?
By Flunk on 4/10/2008 5:04:04 PM , Rating: 4
Why, so that we can use it as a benchmark neglecting the fact that games are meant to be fun and playable 2 things that Crysis is not?

If the graphics in Crysis were significantly better than the competition (UT3, etc.) then perhaps it would be interesting from a technological perspective. But as it stands it is just a badly coded game that doesn't look all the great and runs poorly on everything.

RE: how long we have to wait?
By Locutus465 on 4/10/2008 5:18:28 PM , Rating: 1
Because it's something that will push for better graphics hardware... If Crysis isn't fun, I'm sure it's not just the fault of a demanding graphics subsystem (I've only played a little crysis my self as my 7800GT isn't up to par). Console games have been doing much more in the arena of pushing the envolope graphics (and sound) wise, along with merging in fun game play than the PC side. While somewhat understanble to a degree, it's also very sad since PC's are still (and will forever be) capable of so much more.

So yes, I want to see at least 1 or 2 game studios out there pushing the envolope graphics wise, and hopefully such studios will turn out to be a studio capable of also making a compelling game. I'd like to see ID back in the game.

RE: how long we have to wait?
By Locutus465 on 4/10/2008 5:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
Or I guess another way of putting it is this:

Typically I upgrade every 2 years because by that point in time my PC is actually *FEELING* long in the tooth. This time around I'm doing it more for the heck of it than anything else. The only game I can't run with full details maxed (on vista) is crysis which I can't really run at all.

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