Print 30 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on Oct 27 at 2:16 PM

If Intel felt bad about losing the MacBook graphics war, they will hate what's coming next

For a long time Intel has enjoyed significant domination in the notebook integrated graphics world. Its integrated graphics chips were so popular that they alone gave Intel the lead in the graphics market.

NVIDIA, the leader in discrete graphics, has its eyes on Intel's integrated market and its latest integrated GPU -- the 9400M -- may be just the chip to grab share from Intel. NVIDIA's Nick Stam believes that the 9400M could grab 30% of the existing integrated graphics market.

Laptop Magazine had a long interview with Stam to talk about the new GPU and other NVIDIA issues. NVIDIA and Apple claim that the 9400M delivers about five times the performance of Intel's X4500HD integrated graphics. Laptop says that in its testing an improvement of about 2.5 times was seen. Despite the improvement in performance, the new MacBook using the 9400M was able to last five hours in the Laptop battery test.

Intel wasn't happy when it lost out on the MacBook GPU business. DailyTech reported this month that Intel has pledged to do whatever it takes to win the Mac business back. Stam says that users who just check email and surf the web won’t really notice any improvements of the 9400M compared to Intel's integrated GPU. However, those who encode video, use Google Earth and other applications will notice the increased power.

Stam says that NVIDIA is also working on a sort of upscaling technology for internet videos. A good example is YouTube; anyone who has watched a YouTube video knows the average quality is far from good. NVIDIA says future technology it is working on could make the video much clearer just like an upscaling DVD player does with DVD movies.

NVIDIA is mum on when we might see this upscaling technology, but says it is working with seven or eight companies that are making video enhancement technologies. Speaking on NVIDIA's goal of grabbing 30% of the integrated video market, Stam says that five other major notebook manufacturers are planning to ship notebooks using the 9400M GPU soon.

Laptop asked Stam why you had to log-out and back in to change from integrated to discrete graphics on the MacBook Pro. Stam says that log-out and in processes isn't needed on the Windows platform with NVIDIA GPUs, but the software for OS X isn't to the point where that is possible yet. Stam does say that is a feature coming in the future.

Speaking about the massive GPU failures in notebooks form Apple, HP, and Dell Stam told Laptop, "… it [GPU failures] has to be a bad thermal environment and lots of power cycling. Many different scenarios have to come together to cause the problem. We set a lot of money aside, but we really haven’t had to service a lot of that. All of a sudden when you say something like that the whole world blows up and thinks it’s every notebook."

The 9400M GPU can scale down to netbook use according to Stam. The clocks can scale and NVIDIA has a reduced function version of the GPU for lower-end systems. Stam also says there has been interest from netbook makers, but he declined to reveal what firms were interested. NVIDIA expects its TEGRA GPU to be very popular in the netbook market next year.

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By tallcool1 on 10/23/2008 11:53:25 AM , Rating: 5
Intel graphics have always been horrific, barely acceptable for general pc use. I hope the continue to lose market share. It will be nice to one day have all PCs come with a decent minimum graphics processor installed.

RE: Good
By mmntech on 10/23/2008 12:17:21 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed. Intel's graphics chipsets are just horrible. On the Mac platform running Xbench tests, I found that the Radeon 9550 beats out the GMA X3100 by a significant margin on OpenGL rendering. Stuff like the GMA 950 are only barely powerful enough for Vista and OS X and the X3100 is no good for modern 3D apps.

It's good that nVidia is producing more reasonably powered integrated GPUs. Especially now with HD video requirements for HTPC systems. For me though, discrete graphics are mandatory in any system.

RE: Good
By Oregonian2 on 10/23/2008 2:11:22 PM , Rating: 3
Don't underestimate Intel. Their previous stuff was low-end integrated graphics. Anybody else pushing higher end stuff won't have trouble because Intel's wasn't focused on graphics nor performance of it. Their intended market wasn't for where it mattered -- price was the focus.

But my understanding of Intel is that in the last year or two, they've really cranked up their focus on graphics performance to the level they concentrate on CPUs. So their products are likely to be improving quite dramatically in the next few years strategically (without regard to the tactical moves made in the short term).

Seeing competition start to crank up is good -- it'll spur things along. :-)

RE: Good
By Dribble on 10/24/2008 6:56:27 AM , Rating: 2
Intel have done nothing other then talk about better graphics. However talk is cheap, and the fact that they can't even get the drivers to work properly on the graphics chips they do provide doesn't exactly fill you with belief in what they are saying.

RE: Good
By Oregonian2 on 10/27/2008 2:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
I've owned video cards by ATI, nVidia, Matrox, and some other minor players. ALL have had buggy software (ATI was the worst in my personal experience, but the others have'm too -- probably more a matter of just which card and when one has it). If Intel had no bugs in their drivers, they'd be the only one.

p.s. - You still weren't catching the drift of my comment though.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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