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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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I just can't help it...
By Aikouka on 4/10/2008 4:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
These articles just get me so flustered anymore. For a long time I've bought nVidia products, even when they weren't the fastest, because they were usually rock solid. You bought them and you knew you'd have a good time gaming through the stable and somewhat common driver releases.

I can't say this anymore and I don't know what to do. I own an 8800GTX and have for quite some time. I expected it to be buggy in the beginning; Not expecting that would have been silly of me and deserving of an eSlap in the face. But here we are... about a year and 5 months after I bought my 8800GTX (I think it was November 2006... sounds about right) and I still fight to this day with it.

I've spent more time trying to keep one step ahead of my drivers than gaming (this is an exaggeration). It's kind of a bad sign when I spend time figuring out which driver poses the least amount of livable issues... and note that livable refers to amount of blue screens in a week.

Please, for the love of God, baby Jesus, Buddha, Allah and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, open that jumbo can of extra-strength whoop ass on your driver division software engineers!

I should probably note that this is in Vista and I could point out the DT article where the most crashes were caused by nVidia drivers.

RE: I just can't help it...
By i3arracuda on 4/10/2008 5:05:56 PM , Rating: 3
This may be a side tangent, but are you running a 32-bit version of Vista? I'm always hearing these horror stories with Vista; Crashing, poor nVidia drivers, and the usual it's not as good as <insert OS of choice>.

I run Vista Ultimate x64 and have never had a crash, hangup, driver issue, anything. My previous video card was a 7950 GX2, which is, by far, the poorest supported nVidia product I have ever owned. I never had a single issue running this card with Vista x64. My new card is a 8800 GT 512 MB, and again, no issues.

I mention this only because, by and large, Vista gets an incredibly bad rap by the media. I see this great divide between the 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and I can't help but feel that Vista's story is a tale of two operating systems.

Slightly more on topic:

I love this. I really do. I have a soft spot for both Intel and nVidia, and I hope this spurns the competition between them even further. I am eagerly awaiting Intel's response. Perhaps something along the lines of "We're going to stomp a mudhole in their ass...and walk it dry!"

You just can't beat CEO's acting like red asses in public.

RE: I just can't help it...
By nRollo on 4/10/2008 8:37:59 PM , Rating: 3
I started in Vista with a NF4 motherboard, AMD FX 60, and two 8800GTXs, a month after Vista launched, using Vista Home Premium. I upgraded to a 680i/E6700/8800GTX SLi rig with Vista 32 Ultimate. Then I got a 680i/E9850/8800U rig with Vista Enterprise. Then I got a 780i/QX6600/3 x 8800GTX rig and used Vista 64 Ultimate. Now I'm using a 790i/E8400/ 2 X 9800GX2 rig with Vista 32 Ultimate again.

Know what the common thread through all this is? I've used NVIDIA motherboards and graphics cards in several configurations, on every version of Vista, every day of my life for the last year on games new and old and a variety of other softwares.

I don't think I get a BSOD or TDR a month, let alone a lot of them. The only time I ever saw a lot of "NVIDIA driver errors" was when my non certified PSU was failing to drive my three GTXs, and sure enough, Vista reported this as a "NVIDIA driver error"

The Vista errors around launch time with NVIDIA drivers are very old news. Yes, some people had errors at that point, but we'll never really know how many were caused by NVIDIA drivers and how many were misreported due to other hardware factors like PSUs failing, OCed RAM and CPUs, etc..

Personally, I think Intel is just trying to create the market for their upcoming products, and divert attention from ongoing legal issues they are having.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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