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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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Intel to Dominate Mid and Low Range Market
By MikeMurphy on 4/10/2008 8:01:54 PM , Rating: 3
Hi Folks,

It seems quite obvious to me that Nvidia and ATi enjoy their market share due to the fact that current IGPs are incapable of running any meaningful 3D tasks. Even if you want to play the simplest of 3D games you are forced by Intel to go shop for an Nvidia or ATi product.

By creating even a semi-respectable IGP Intel will not give cause for the everyday consumer to go out and purchase a dedicated 3D card. The result is a world of hurt for those companies offering dedicated 3D solutions which strangely enough also compete in Intel's core markets.

Watch as it unfolds…

RE: Intel to Dominate Mid and Low Range Market
By Donkey2008 on 4/10/2008 8:42:08 PM , Rating: 3

The IGP market is HUGE and Nvidia knows that. It is a profit driver well above selling discrete graphics cards. The 10% of users like us who buy high-end cards to play games pales in comparison to the vast majority of users who buy OEM systems with integrated graphics. That's why Intel is the #1 supplier of graphics chips in the world.

Nvidia's market is rapidly contracting as OEMs fail to build around their enthusiast chipsets and IGP graphics. Without an entire platform to sell to OEMs(chipset-CPU-IGP) they will inevitably fail outside of just making great discrete video cards. Nvidia's CEO can try to get these analysts fired up with fight'in words, but it is already too late - just check out Nvidia's stock price over the last 6 months.

And oh so quietly AMD lurks in the shadows, cutting deals with large OEMs to build Spiders with 780G stickers on them.

RE: Intel to Dominate Mid and Low Range Market
By JustTom on 4/11/2008 11:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
It is somewhat ironic using stock prices to disparage NVIDIA then in your next sentence praising AMD.

Stock price for NVIDIA 10/11/07 35.27
Stock price for NVIDIA 4/10/08 19.88
% of 10/11/07 value: 56%

Stock price for AMD 10/11/07 13.80
Stock price for AMD 04/10/08 6.27
% of 10/11/07 value: 45%

AMD stock has performed worse than NVIDIA stock over the last 6 months

By just4U on 4/11/2008 8:47:22 PM , Rating: 2
He does have a excellent point. Here we are reading about Nvidia and Intel trading verbal blows and pounding their chests and yet...

Amd with their 780G in hand sitting quietly looking on..

By geddarkstorm on 4/11/2008 12:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Nvidia and ATI make IGPs on some motherboards? I don't think that's the full story. It's more like the two have always only had to compete with each other, and getting a third party involved and shaking things up bode ill for them.

By RHiNoX on 4/17/2008 11:35:16 AM , Rating: 2
the 780G from AMD takes any intel chipset and dominates.

If you are making a media center PC, not choosing the 780G makes you uninformed. just don't plug a 125 watt cpu, which would also make you uninformed.

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