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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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.."and thinks it’s every notebook"
By CMercer on 10/23/2008 7:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
Being a PC Tech for a big box retailer, i had to add my 2 cents.

There was a period of time where we were getting 3-5 laptops a week in that were covered under HP's Service Enhancement, due to failing GPUs. We currently have 3 that have been at HP for around 4 weeks that are now awaiting RMAs. IIRC, there are around 225 models that were affected by this issue. To see NVIDIA downplaying this issue infuriates me. Maybe it has to do with region/location in the country, but It damn near seemed like every HP coming to the bench was suffering from this issue.

By mindless1 on 10/26/2008 1:57:19 AM , Rating: 2
There are indeed many questionable, arguably defective nVidia GPUs out there, but as someone who has in their hand an HP w/6150 video I found two other problems that contributed as much if not moreso.

1) HP has set the fan to speed up based on processor temperature, but the same heatpipe/fins/fan cools both the processor and GPU. This was a mistake on their part since modern mobile processors can go down into very low power states, meaning the northbridge/GPU is creating more heat than the CPU is but more importantly a higher heat density due to smaller die size.

2) At least on the model I have, the design places a very thick silicone thermal pad inbetween the heatpipe and the northbridge/GPU. That is bound to be quite a bit less effective than if it were a traditional metal then layer of grease or thin waxy thermal interface material.

To put it another way, I was seeing northbridge temps in excess of 85C. I'd never let a desktop motherboard chipset get that hot, I'd never let a CPU get that hot, and even a separate video card GPU getting over 80C concerns me. HP's design simply doesn't remove enough heat and their prototypes should've indicated this but they kept the design and sold laptops that hot anyway.

Combine both of these design mistakes and the coincidence that nVidia has also had known problems with solder bumps on G86 and G84, and we're seeing both shady behavior from nVidia AND a lot of people blaming nVidia for other failures that weren't their fault.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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