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Two chipsets, two graphics cores

DailyTech has received a July 2006 Intel specification update on G965 and Q965 Express chipsets that reveals final details of Intel’s GMA X3000 and GMA 3000 integrated graphics cores. Intel originally intended for the G965 and Q965 Express chipsets to have the same graphics core but have since changed its mind. The result is two separate graphics core—GMA X3000 for G965 Express and GMA 3000 for Q965 Express. As Intel is appealing to the mainstream consumer with G965 Express the GMA X3000 graphics core will have greater graphics processing capabilities.

G965 Express with its GMA X3000 graphics core will support DirectX 9c, DirectX 10 and OpenGL 1.5 features. The supported features include:
  • Hardware vertex shader model 3.0
  • Hardware pixel shader model 3.0
  • 32-bit and 16-bit full precision floating point operations
  • Up to 8 multiple render targets
  • Occlusion Query
  • 128-bit floating point texture formats
  • Bilinear, trilinear and anisotropic mipmap filtering
  • Shadow maps and double sided stencils
There’s no mention of the amount of vertex or pixel shaders available on GMA X3000 graphics cores. However, the shaders are fully programmable which can be adapted to varying amounts of vertex or pixel shaders. As previously reported the GMA X3000 will have a 667 MHz graphics core clock with support for high dynamic range and Intel Clear Video Technology for enhanced video playback.

Q965 Express chipsets will receive a less powerful graphics core in the form of the GMA 3000. GMA 3000 will meet the minimums to support Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Vista Premium with Aero Glass interface with support for DirectX 9c and OpenGL 1.4 plus. The following features are supported:
  • Software vertex shader model 2.0/3.0
  • Hardware pixel shader model 2.0
  • 32-bit and 16-bit fixed point operations
  • Up to 8 multiple render targets
  • Occlusion query
  • 128-bit floating point texture formats
  • Bilinear, trilinear and anisotropic mipmap filtering
  • Shadow maps and double sided stencils
With the exception of hardware pixel shader model 2.0 support the GMA 3000 graphics core has similar specifications as the outgoing GMA 950 graphics core. Since Intel is catering Q965 Express chipsets towards business users as part of its vPro platform initiative it doesn’t exactly need gaming capable graphics power.

Availability of G965 Express based products is expected sometime this month while Q965 Express based products will have a formal launch in early September.


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Questions
By ltcommanderdata on 8/5/2006 8:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With the exception of hardware pixel shader model 2.0 support the GMA 3000 graphics core has similar specifications as the outgoing GMA 950 graphics core.

I believe that the GMA950 had 4 hardware PS2.0 so the only difference between the the GMA3000 and the GMA950 is the clock speed from 400MHz to 667MHz.

Maybe you can answer something for me. If the 965 series uses unified shaders, what's the point of locking the shaders in PS mode for the Q965 and Q963? I don't see it offering any benefits to the user or Intel just disadvantages. For instance if there were 8 unified shaders having them as 8 PS doesn't increase yields or reduce power or heat compared to allowing dynamic shader allocation. All it does is slow down the system.

The second question I have is that the 946GZ uses a GMA3000 at 667MHz too. The only difference with the GMA950 is the higher clock speeds because of the 90nm die shrink. So what's the difference between the GMA3000 in the 946GZ (a die shrink of the 945G) and the GMA3000 in the Q965 and Q963? I was thinking that maybe they are the same, but that makes no sense. That means that there are actually 2 completely different chips in the 965 series with integrated graphics. I can't see Intel spending the resources to develop 2 NBs with IGPs in parallel instead of their usual design 1 and cut features to make others. The Q965 has more in common with in common with the G965 than the 946GZ too since the Q965 has FMA and all the other new features of the G965. This means that the Q965 isn't just a relabeled 946GZ but a separate development. It's all very wierd.

BTW, you're a little behind on this story. HKEPC reported this on July 27th.

http://www.hkepc.com/bbs/itnews.php?tid=638462&sta...

Not pointing fingers or anything, just pointing this out.

Also The Inquirer has reported on the GMAX3000's current poor performance, but that's because the new drivers aren't ready yet. Right now they are using 14.21, but hardware PS3.0 and T&L isn't added until 14.24, and hardware VS2.0 isn't added until 14.26. Hopefully Intel actually spends time on these drivers since that's usually their weak point and the GMAX3000 certainly has a lot of potential. If it ships in August it'll be the first DX10 chip beating the G80 and the first PC chip with unified shaders beating the R600.




RE: Questions
By Xavian on 8/5/2006 10:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
yes, but ofcourse it'll come no-where near in terms of performance of the G80 and R600 cards. Intel graphics have allways been ones for tonnes of features but not performance and honestly i can't see that changing at all.


RE: Questions
By Phynaz on 8/7/2006 10:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
A $30 integrated chipset will not come anywhere near the performance of a $600 dedicated GPU?

People, we have a new master of the obvious here.


RE: Questions
By defter on 8/6/2006 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If it ships in August it'll be the first DX10 chip


Check the dailytech summary. GMAX3000 is DX9 chip (Shader model 3.0 only).


RE: Questions
By Warren21 on 8/6/2006 1:25:04 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need SM 4.0 to be a DX10 chip. SM4.0 is simply a shader model spec that is being released with it. It says in the article "supports DX9c, DX10 and SM3.0"

Other cards like the GeForce 6 series don't "support DX10 like every card released in the past few years" either. They are DX9. No card released to this day supports DX10. Though some DX10 games will have a roll-back feature to play on DX9 cards, the games then run in DX9 mode and are no longer DX10 games. The next-gen games supporting DX10 can run on older DX9 cards in DX9, DX10 doesn't run on DX9 hardware. Get it straight.


RE: Questions
By Warren21 on 8/6/2006 1:25:47 PM , Rating: 1
*and Open GL 1.5"


RE: Questions
By ltcommanderdata on 8/6/2006 2:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I replied to a similar comment above.

http://www.hkepc.com/bbs/itnews.php?tid=638462&sta...

quote:
But our sources have some more details. Besides these, Direct X10 and Shader Model 4.0 are also supported for G965. The G965 Direct X10 driver will be ready as the same time as Direct X10 API for Vista released.

Essentially, the unified shaders already support SM4.0 and DX10, but just require proper drivers and a BIOS update to activate those features. The unified shaders can easily support GS mode in addition to PS and VS. Intel's just waiting for Vista to be released before they activate DX10 although they'll probably have something for the Vista Betas and RCs before that.


RE: Questions
By defter on 8/7/2006 5:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You don't need SM 4.0 to be a DX10 chip. SM4.0 is simply a shader model spec that is being released with it. It says in the article "supports DX9c, DX10 and SM3.0"

Other cards like the GeForce 6 series don't "support DX10 like every card released in the past few years" either. They are DX9. No card released to this day supports DX10. Though some DX10 games will have a roll-back feature to play on DX9 cards, the games then run in DX9 mode and are no longer DX10 games. The next-gen games supporting DX10 can run on older DX9 cards in DX9, DX10 doesn't run on DX9 hardware. Get it straight.


You are very confused:
- all modern cards will have DX10 drivers, meaning that they will work DX10 games, just like my GeForce3 works with DX9 games.
- The SM 4.0 is a new feature of DX10. Thus if we are talking about the chip that supports all DX10 features, SM 4.0 is a must have feature.

If GMAX3000 has only SM 3.0 just like GeForce 6xxx, then why do you think that GMAX3000 is "DX10 chip" while GeForce 6800 is "DX9 chip"?


RE: Questions
By ltcommanderdata on 8/7/2006 5:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
Currect me if I'm wrong, but I thought that DirectX 10 was a complete departure from DirectX 9 and before. For one, DX10 doesn't offer any backwards compatibility. The reason is that DX10 no longer offers support for compatibility bits which means that graphics cards can no longer tell games what feature they support and so what features the game can enable. This was the primary reason why the GMA950 could claim support for DX9 since it could tell the game which features it can't run. Instead, Microsoft will define a complete supported feature set in each version/update of DX10. In order for you to claim DX10 compatibility you have to support all the features Microsoft defines. There can be no half-assed DX10 graphics card implementation, it's either all or nothing. This leads me to believe that when Intel saids DX10 support it must be full support, because there is no partial support. This is the same reason why you don't see ATI and nVidia claiming any of their current graphics cards support DX10 if it's simply a driver thing. If it's just a driver then ATI and nVidia would be all over it already in their marketing.


RE: Questions
By IntelUser2000 on 8/6/2006 6:41:42 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
With the exception of hardware pixel shader model 2.0 support the GMA 3000 graphics core has similar specifications as the outgoing GMA 950 graphics core.


Please fix the errors, DailyTech editor. The amount of misinformation spread in DailyTech is so much its not even funny. GMA 950 DOES support hardware Pixel Shader model 2.0. The only difference between GMA 950, GMA3000 is that GMA3000 MIGHT have a higher clock rate. All else is same according to current information provided to public.

To all those wondering: 946GZ and Q965 both use GMA 3000, so they are the same graphics core.

DirectX 10 and PS 10/VS 10 is supported. It's reported that it will be supported when DX10 specfications are finalized(and probably available to download).


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