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Nvidia and Intel speak out about chipset dispute

by Sylvie Barak on 9 October 2009, 11:38


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qauez

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Chipping at Nvidia's business revenues

"It is definitely a blow to NVIDIA," Jim McGregor from In-Stat told HEXUS, but Jon Peddie of JPR, however, isn't convinced Nvidia is missing out on much. "It's a dog meat market," he said of the chipset industry, "the parts don't sell for much and there are too many suppliers (ATI, Intel, Nvidia, SiS, and VIA)." Still, reasoned Peddie, "Nvidia managed to offer a high quality, high performance IGP and created a nice little business out of it."

Several years ago, Nvidia's focus was actually on supporting AMD CPUs, but of course the firm took any business Intel threw Nvidia's way. When AMD bought ATI, however, Intel's business became that little bit more important to Nvidia. 

"Intel and NVIDIA have always had a challenging relationship," McGregor said, but warned that the same could be said about any third-party chipset provider and Intel.  "As one vendor once told me, ‘just because you have a license, doesn't mean that Intel will support you,'" he explained, pointing to how Intel often holds back specs and samples. 

Win7 Loss

Nathan Brookwood of Insight64 also told HEXUS that Nvidia's inability to offer chipset products that work with Intel's Core i3/i5/i7 line would represent a significant loss for the industry, especially in the coming Windows 7 era.

Brookwood explained that up until now, Intel's "good enough" integrated graphics only impacted users who cared about 3-D performance, mostly gamers. But now with the advent of Windows 7 - which can use GPU hardware to speed up compute-intensive media tasks like transcoding for slashing the time it takes to convert video and audio files for example - DirectCompute, offered by both Nvidia and AMD has become important as speedups only work on graphics engines that support Win 7's DirectCompute feature.  

Nvidia and AMD both offer DirectCompute drivers, but Intel doesn't, and most likely won't, said Brookwood "since (a) Intel's GMA graphics hardware lacks features needed to facilitate GPU computing, and (b) Intel wants users to buy faster CPUs, not faster GPUs."

Of course, users can still buy PCs with discrete GPUs in order to take advantage of Win7 speedups, but more than half the systems sold in recent years rely on integrated graphics, which are significantly cheaper.

"Unless Intel pulls a DirectCompute rabbit out of its GMA hat, users seeking to tap DirectCompute features on notebooks and desktops that lack discrete GPUs will have but two choices: AMD-based systems that use AMD chipsets or AMD-based systems that use Nvidia chipsets," Brookwood noted.