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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 omnicronx on 4/10/2008 5:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
Intel makes the worst video drivers in the world, period! They can't even make fun of the lowly AMD when it comes to driver stability. Maybe they should work on the drivers of some of the products they have already released rather than claiming you are better than AMD and Nvidia. The hardware T&L for the X3000 card (hell the drivers in general) comes to mind =P

I won't even think about buying a discrete intel card until their drivers become at least somewhat stable, and actually perform the way you advertise. I for one am not going to hold my breath.

RE: drivers
By Donkey2008 on 4/10/2008 8:15:06 PM , Rating: 3
The comment about "lowly" AMD drivers makes no sense. I have owned just about every conceivable video card over the last 10 years and I can say with experience that Nvidia has released WORSE drivers over the last 5 years than ATI BY FAR. If the Nvidia/Vista fiasco isn't proof of that, then I guess you will never be convinced that almighty Nvidia has flaws like everyone else.

RE: drivers
By bfellow on 4/11/2008 10:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
I'm going to agree to disagree. ATI drivers have been bad as well. Powerplay bug, the unknown white square, DX 10.1 functionality missing, stability issues, etc. Luckily I've got my 3870 and 2600XT running well now after 6-7 driver and hotfix updates later. I'm going to wait for official driver update for the powerplay bug.

RE: drivers
By shiznit on 4/10/2008 9:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about ATI's drivers being "lowly" (although that Control Center is ludicrous) but you have a point about their drivers. I have a G950 gfx laptop and it's good enough to play CS 1.6 but not at the native 1440x900. I want to use 960x600 or even 768x480 but there is absolutely NO WAY to add these resolutions anywhere in Vista or in the Intel drivers. I have tried PowerStrip but G950 isn't fully supported and I'm stuck with the default resolutions the driver allows. Larrabee drivers better not suck like this.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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